Room 131

Mock Trial competitions are starting tomorrow so I thought it would be appropriate to post this now. This is my description essay for English, which was the hardest to write out of all the essays in our class. I really had to keep reminding myself I was supposed to describe rather than tell a story. Thanks to countless peer reviews and lots of revisions, I’m pretty proud of my essay. Please enjoy.

Room 131

Where I spend the majority of my time in the fall isn’t in my living my room with a cup of Trader Joe’s green tea or in the little park by my house running around crunching leaves. It’s in room 131 at my school. I’m on Mock Trial which has a pretty self-explanatory name. We practice for about two months then present a case at our competitions at the Santa Ana courthouse in mid-November.

Mock Trial is one of the most rigorous activities on campus; not quite as crazy as band, but still up there. We practice Mondays and Wednesdays from five until eight from the beginning of the school year until we are eliminated from the competition. Competitions are Tuesdays and Thursdays and our bus to the courthouse leaves school at 3:45 so we all just meet after school and hang out.

Where do we spend all this time together? Our coach’s, Ms. LaFramboise, room, 131, of course. Last year was my first year on the team, and I remember walking into practice the first couple days and the room just had a distinct smell. Houses and stores and restaurants tend to have very definite scents, but classrooms? Not so much. The room’s floor space is taken up by rows of desks, either facing the center of the room or the front. Our coach’s desk sits in the corner, neat and decorated. One look around the room and you’ll see at least five frogs; Ms. LaFramboise is a big fan.

The walls themselves are completely covered in posters (an English teacher’s favorite piece of decor, apparently) about movies, literature, politics–you name it. Having had a class where the walls were literally just a bunch of bricks painted white, I try not to take this effort at making the room more inviting for granted. I think my favorite is tie between a huge screenshot of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a bright yellow picture of Nelson Mandela that says “Open The Doors.” The whiteboards (there are two) are usually filled just in the middle with easy-to-read cursive writing, usually in the form of a lesson plan or an “On this day in history…”

The actual appearance of room 131 isn’t the only thing that stands out–it’s the feeling it gives you. When I’m in 131 with all my teammates, whether we’re working or discussing the school day while eating Chipotle or warm, gushy brownies someone brought, I don’t have to worry about the things I worry about in other places. In other classrooms, for instance, I’m worrying about my hair looking okay or the fact that I wasn’t paying attention at all when the teacher said something that’s going to be on the test. In 131, I can just be. Sure we get a little stressed during competitions and we have to put countless hours of work into our case, but we don’t have to worry about being someone we’re not to please other people.

This feeling of comfort and freedom couldn’t be possible without the amazing people who make it so– without a family, a house isn’t a home. For many of us, room 131 is a second home, not only because the room itself is so charming or because we spend a ridiculous amount of time there, but because our family is there. Like any other club or sport, there are misunderstandings and drama, but we have to put them behind us because it would just be extremely awkward to spend so much time with someone you were in an argument with. We support each other and accept each other and push each other to be our very best, because everyone just cares so much about every other member of the team.

The team and the room are symbiotic. They need each other to exist. Without the room, we wouldn’t have an actual physical gathering place; something tangible to represent our bond and, of course, our endless labor for the case. Without the team, the room wouldn’t represent what it does for all of us. Without our team in particular, with its beautiful dynamic of support webs and relationships, room 131 could never be Room 131. Aroma-filled and poster-covered, symbolistic and realistic, tangible and indescribable, Room 131.

 

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