My Friday afternoon with Tia Georgiou ’25 and Zarif Ahsan ’25 begins with a 10-minute reading of my astrological charts.
“Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Leo Rising,” Tia tells me as she nurses a 16-ounce pink Monster Energy Ultra Rosa.
“Crystal girly session,” Zarif jokes, laughing as Tia nods in playful admission. From the start of our conversation, these two Stanford sophomores share a banter characteristic of their room’s design. Together, they’ve developed a botanical, Renaissance-esque aesthetic that warms the room to visitors. A postcard wall near the entrance greets guests at the door. They beam with pride as they show me their favorites: a Communist-themed congratulations card for new parents, a Julie De Graag print and a black-and-white portrait of Langston Hughes. Like many of the postcards, much of their room’s trinkets are gifts they’ve accrued from friends and family.
As with all Synergy residents, Tia and Zarif became roommates on the Sunday before fall quarter during the co-op’s consensus-based rooming meeting. The meeting (which lasted seven hours) matched the two based on their living styles: sleep times, preferences towards drugs and alcohol, how social they are and so on. Though last year Tia and Zarif just knew each other through mutual friends, their cohabitation blossomed once Zarif’s printout of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” opened their eyes to how much they shared. From there it’s been a joyful dwelling for both: Tia offers Zarif vines to drape over his bed, Zarif cracks witty jokes that Tia giggles at and both of their alarms hold each other accountable.
Pointing to above his wall, Zarif runs me through his decor one-by-one: a Yayoi Kusama piece, $1 album covers Zarif snagged at San Francisco thrift stores and prints of impressionist oil paintings that his “artsy freshman self” brought to college last year.
On Tia’s side, the botanical theme continues; macramé suspends a pot of tiny sunflowers, earwig succulents sprout on her small window ledge, an antique mirror amplifies the afternoon sun caught between post-its of her favorite quotes.
Where the two sides meet stands Tia’s proudest creation: a 3-foot by 6-foot multi-media project that she painted as a culmination of her compassion meditation work. Bright pastels, ripped notecards and bending cursive combine to showcase Tia’s lessons on shared humanity. Zarif smiles as Tia reads aloud her favorite quote drawn on her artwork:
“It’s a paradox of happiness that we are the happiest when we are less concerned with our own happiness—from being inspired to in love, our deepest experiences of happiness come from transcending our narrow selves.”
It’s evident in their interactions and the way they admiringly glance around the room that these two share both an appreciation for one another and the space they’ve managed to create in Synergy. The cohesion between their design aesthetics encapsulates their relationship — one that’s playful, caring, and respectful. It’s light and easy, and like most things for Zarif, it ends with a joke. “If I were one of those bitches with LED lights, you’d be done for.”