Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ah, to be 20 and live in abject conditions

Be honest: in college, did your living room/common room ever look something like this?

Mine did (minus the Confederate flag beach towel).

Yesterday morning, I was walking through Allston, where many of the BU frat houses are located, and was struck by the garbage-strewn lawns. Red Solo cups, beer bottles, empty pizza boxes covered the porches, evidence of the previous night's revelries. But what fascinated me even more was the fact that some of these house's occupants were sitting out on their porches and lawns relaxing in the sun, amidst their party trash. No one was lifting a finger to clean anything. They were perfectly comfortable, proud even, of their filth.

At age 29, I thought, I could never live like that. That's disgusting. But there was a time, in the not-too-distant past, where I did live in some pretty squalid conditions. It's a rite of passage, I think, to live somewhere gross when you're 20 and not care.

For me, that place was 67 Edgewood, in New Haven, CT, from 2002-2003. I could not find a picture of the actual house, but it looked a bit like this:

Quaint, right? You would never suspect the level of decrepitude that a cute little house like this on a college campus can sustain.

I lived at 67 Edgewood, much to the dismay of my horrified parents after they visited, during my senior year of college. I lived there with 5 roommates and 1 small dog named Robot. I paid less than $400 a month. And while we weren't the biggest slobs on the planet...somehow the house was always pretty rank. Especially the basement. I still have nightmares about this basement.

The basement smelled like the Disneyworld ride Pirates of the Caribbean: a mix of dank water, mildew, sweat, and gunpowder. It was also filled with the abandoned belongings of previous residents (clothes, window fans, computer keyboards, boxes of Q-tips and partially used deodorant sticks). I avoided the basement at all costs -- we had a washer and a dryer down there, but I still paid extra to send my laundry out because I was convinced that nothing could go into that basement and come out cleaner.

Whenever someone's parents were coming to visit, we made an effort to clean, but mostly this was just surface stuff -- putting away drug paraphernalia, making the dirty dishes in the sink look more presentable, etc. I'm not sure we owned a mop or a vacuum. In our defense, the house was already in such disrepair that cleaning it seemed kind of beside the point. We reported various problems to our management company (shower leaking into the basement, mice) but the only time they ever showed up to fix something was when a sink broke off the wall. Granted, I think a drunk person was sitting on it when this happened...but still.

Now I keep a pretty clean "house" (studio) -- the only cleanliness issue stems from my shed-happy cat. I won't let people come over unless I have thoroughly cleaned. But once....once I was much more lax. So while I shudder a bit while walking past the off-campus BU residences in my neighborhood, I would be a hypocrite to really judge the inhabitants. They are young and don't know any better.

Ah, youth. Not that I'm on the verge of AARP membership, but I am almost 30. My salad days are (mostly) over. Sigh.


Jordan said...

Does the elder decrepit male of the household live there?

fishwatch said...

It wasn't just that the person leaning on the sink was drunk, he was NAKED too.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully it wasn't your confederate flag towel. I have a pair of vintage bowling shoes emblazoned with what I consider a highly whimsical patriotic motif. My brother calls them my "racist shoes." Hard to live that kind of thing down.