Settling Into Common Quarters
This holiday season, I am thankful for the computers responsible for matching me with my current apartment mates in Campus Village. We are the four out of many freshmen who chose the affordable apartment life over the expensive dorm life. Unlike the dorms, a building isn’t called a hall. It’s just referred to as a building. Meal plans don’t exist. Swipe is an unheard term. We are the wrong group of freshmen to be friends with. But please. Still talk to us. In our refrigerators are forgotten packages of bread and vegetables, and eggs idle in the corner only to be remembered when way past the expiration date. We praise the microwave, for without it college life would be damn difficult. The disorganized freezer holds the possibility of a great avalanche of ice cubes falling all over yourself and the kitchen floor. This guarantees a wave of laughter when others are around. The stove top has little specks of oil, evidently expressing that we fry food often. This is the easiest and fastest method of cooking. The struggle is real. Do not blame us.
Outside the crammed kitchen with its forgiving three max occupants, is our cozy living room occupied by ragged navy colored couches and a coffee table topped with a deck of cards and cups of tea. We have pizza Wednesdays with our neighbors solely for our collective love for American Horror Story. They are the reason why our bedtime has exaggerated from 12 to 4 a.m. It’s funny how you lose attention to time when you’re with good company.
It wasn’t always this fun though, but rather, painfully awkward and boring.
Imagine a small circular table with four strangers sitting around it. What they have for dinner is a serving of salt and pepper seasoned fried chicken with another dish of stir fry and white rice. The glaring at the grain of rice resting on the newly shared plates replaces ongoing conversation. Sipping water is frequent. Eye contact is severely avoided. That was our first meal. The food was warm but the mood was cold. I know that we all just wanted company as cheesy as it sounds. I started joining clubs parallel to my interests and culture. I made friends with the neighbors. My apartment mates had their own high school friends over. They joined their own organizations. They found jobs. We all made acquaintances. And I think we hated that fact. It’s the golden truth that the infamous combo of college ice breakers can get tiring: what’s your name, where do you live, where are you from, what’s your major, what do you like? It rings on and on and you wish you could just wear a dog tag declaring the answers to those repetitive questions. Gradually, the college load made its stressful impression. The reading piled up. The homework difficulty intensified. Midterms slapped us hard on the face. Through this transition, my apartment mates who I call my roommates were with me.
We are four freshmen. We complain together and we eat pizza together. It’s only been ten weeks and I admit that I deeply care about them. I wouldn’t trade my roommates for anything. Well, actually, if I could, I’d immediately trade all of them for a college diploma with no hesitation.