It’s official. After living three years under the protective umbrella of Yale housing, I have decided to take a walk in the rain. Together with my good friend Andrew, I am moving off campus. I’ll be the first to admit that my decision to move off was based more on a flimsy romantic notion than a fair analysis of the pros and cons of the situation. It wasn’t so much about being closer to friends and favorite watering holes — though that is certainly part of it — but about a particular vision I had about what my senior year off campus would be like. I saw a stylish bachelor pad, smartly furnished with the best IKEA has to offer, but with a warm atmosphere making it perfect for an impromptu dinner party and a wine-soaked game of Jenga. I saw the epicenter of style and maturity at Yale. Can you see it?
Well, wouldn’t you know, a lot of other Yalies had the exact same vision and were willing to give their eyeteeth to achieve it. How on earth were we going to get an apartment when so many other people also wanted one? By selling our souls to Off-Broadway, of course. For those of you unfamiliar with Off-Broadway, it is the Yale-affiliated rental agency that handles most of the apartment rentals for Yale undergraduates. Also, the power afforded them by the virtual monopoly they have on undergraduate off-campus housing has rendered them flint-hearted and unfeeling. Oh, and sometimes the people working there forget to read important e-mails and almost give your apartment to someone else (oops!), but this is neither here nor there. Skipping to the end, through Off-Broadway, Andrew and I were lucky enough to get one of the last habitable apartments in the Yale area, and we are, needless to say, stoked. Finally, we have a place to realize our unfulfilled dreams of youth before we’re broken by the capitalist system and they become totally irrelevant. This is going to ROCK.
Or is it? Am I really ready to leave behind the comfort of on-campus life? What am I so afraid to leave behind? I suppose it’s the ease with which everything comes when you’re living in a residential college. Anything you want, you got it, provided you have your keycard (which like Brittany Murphy is surprisingly capable for being so thin — just ask Eminem.) I am going to miss using my keycard all the time. I mean, is there anything this plastic wonder cannot do? It’s almost magical. Simply hold it before a sensor at your college’s front gate and the gate opens before your eyes. (Just push.) Rub it the right way, and poof, you’ve been granted a perfectly adequate meal or an activated washing machine. No genie involved. And even better, no cash: living on campus means most major transactions are taken care of before the semester starts, so you don’t have to open your wallet as much. Sure, you’re still squandering a small fortune on some vegan shepherd’s pie and a raspberry scone that talks back to you, but it doesn’t feel like it. Instant, if not total, gratification. That’s the key. It has always been enough to have me coming back for thirds.
So why the hell am I moving off? Well, for me, on-campus living hasn’t been all magnetic strips and magic gates. Sure, every evening there’s the opportunity to gorge without reproach upon a never-ending bowl of linguine — which I hear only happens two other places in the universe: Heaven and the Olive Garden — but when one is as regular as a Swiss watch from eating the same thing every night, it’s time for some variety. Off campus, I feel, is the answer.
I’ve been looking forward to cooking for my apartment. It will no doubt appeal to my domestic nature, to the Martha Stewart that lies in me, that lies in all of us. It will be difficult, but I’d like to think when I am cooking for myself I will eat healthily and well. I would like to think that there will be dinner parties, and I will cook complicated dishes I have no business even attempting, and everyone will be leaving raving about how well I pulled it off. I’d like to think living off campus will be something like this, but I know the reality will be something far less glamorous. Instead of “Dahling, the flan was a revelation,” it’ll be, “Dude, we’re out of Easy Mac.” But hey, I’m OK with that, as long as I am in control.
But seriously, this is the main point. Doing it for myself, not only with food, but everything. Buying furniture and groceries, paying the rent, entertaining guests, cleaning bathrooms, etc. In TD, my life has been about instant gratification. Off campus I’ll have to deal with all of the responsibilities of living.
What’s that you say? I’ll have my entire life to deal with all of the responsibilities of living, and when I reach middle age my singular goal will be the achievement of almost exactly the kind of comfort I am giving up by leaving my residential college? And what’s that? I’ll slowly develop obsessions with places that seem to provide this comfort, like Denny’s and Disneyworld, and by the time I’m 70 I’ll be eating in cafeterias because it’s easier than cooking for myself? Hmm — I never thought of that.
Andrew, we gotta talk.
Eric Eagan has to go.