Griffin Pepper | Eight Girls and a Guy

Students often compare Thanksgiving Break to Spring Break, but the two couldn’t be more different. Thanksgiving happens during that awful, stressful transition from midterm recovery to finals mode. It’s usually grey and rainy and cold. Spring Break is a brighter time when the threat of finals dims under the shadow of blossoming trees and Spring Fling. But this Thanksgiving was more of a transformative period than I thought it would be.

I went to my best guy friend Eric’s house. I needed a little time alone with the man I had neglected for the past four months, staying home and using my housemates as case studies and scapegoats for this column. And, as most people, upon learning about my living situation this year, predicted, the girls started to stress me out.

I needed a little break from the drama that inevitably arises from an off-campus housing situation. Chores, obviously nobody’s top priority, were not getting done; the house looked dirty; my room was a mess from the hectic week preceding Thanksgiving. Everything at 86 was bursting at the seams.

Although I didn’t plan it out like this, Eric’s offer to drive me down to his home outside of D.C. was just what I needed to regroup and prepare for the ensuing weeks of long days of class and work, even longer nights in Tisch and all of that drama that comes in between. This weekend would be great.

It didn’t surprise me, however, that our car broke down in the Bronx, halfway to D.C. As a shady man circled our dead minivan with an aluminum bat in hand and as Eric calmly called AAA and his parents, I wished I were back with the girls, in my kitchen, talking about birth control and broken relationships.

But our problems were soon solved with the help of a generous uncle. The next day, we drove the rest of the way to our destination.

Life at Eric’s house slowed down my life. Each day was filled with de-stressing activities. No early morning coffee chats about the enormous pile of work we all had to complete, no midday freak-outs about presentations left for the last minute, no early evening stress-pacing through the halls as a housemate or two gathered belongings for an inconveniently-timed meeting. It was relaxing and catching up with Eric was awesome.

His house was definitely foreign to me. It was much bigger and much more colorful than the houses I’m used to. But I felt most at home when Eric’s mom and sister wandered into the room, asking for my advice or striking up a random conversation about whatever was on their minds. Eric’s sister writes a weekly column in her college newspaper, and she needed help choosing a topic for this week. Eric’s mom didn’t approve of his hair. You know — the inconsequential stuff that fills time.

I realized, at Eric’s house, how much I missed my home, where my crazy parents would pontificate about nothing in particular, especially as they downed their third and fourth glasses of red wine.

But as the weekend came to a close, I felt a pull in my chest, not back to my home on the west coast, but to my home just off-campus, in 86. The girls in my house are my extended family. even says so.

You never really know what you have until it’s gone. Well, luckily, it’s not gone yet. I still have the rest of this fall and all of next spring with the wonderful women of 86. I got away from home, which you need to do sometimes in order to put everything into perspective. But now I see how much I love, and need, my eight ladies at home.

Griffin Pepper is a senior majoring in political science, he can be reached at