My off-campus apartment building was on fire the other night, and, having to evacuate, I grabbed my laptop and my loafers, then moved first to Ashley’s for sugar-free fat-free frozen yogurt (a high) with carob chips (a low), and then, to a friend’s apartment, where we proceeded to watch television and avoid responsibilities such as working and eating real food.
Staring blankly at Rory Gilmore and the fantasy that the WB (nay, the new CW) make of all Yale, New Haven and Connecticut residences, it occurred to me (now a week or so into the school year) that my off-campus “castle in the sky” (the apt Microsoft Word synonym for: fantasy) has been blown to shit.
In a quaint and girlish way, I’ve been waiting and wanting to pay my own bills my whole life. Things like neighbors, landlords, kitchens, refrigerators, running toilets, vacuums, trash chutes, storage spaces, and yes, even slips of paper that demand my parents’ money of me, all signify “real life”, as opposed to the fake life lived on-campus.
Having harbored domestic fantasies involving dusting, recycling and decorating on my own since the disappointment of dorm life freshman year, “off-campus” seemed a mecca, for both the obvious and less obvious reasons.
But my castle caught fire, prompting my re-evaluation of the Pros and Cons of my two weeks of off-campus living.
1) In addition to the space issue, and the terrifying future a life of doubles in Branford continued to promise, having a real home offered more than just stability and privacy (though these things, of course, can’t be overlooked). For example, such statements as “Suzanna, darling, we can’t forget to pay our rent” or “You should stop by for tea one day” are infinitely more interesting than the on-campus corollaries: “I have to visit my Master’s Office to ask them about my clogged toilet” and the suggestion of any meal, tea or coffee in the dining halls. Conversation is simply more interesting when the words “Entryway”, “Study Break” and “Master’s Aide” are never mentioned.
2) Glassware has redeemed itself as an entire reason for living the off-campus lifestyle. Martini glasses, I’ve discovered, are the most satisfying of drinking vessels, whatever their contents (a certain godfather of mine insists on drinking Diet Coke in cognac glasses with two teaspoons of lemon juice — I now know why). Martinis, themselves, though effective and fun to pronounce in the context of “We are having martinis tonight”, are unfortunately less pleasant to consume in any stemware (though a wine glass with a pink fish as its base makes the whole experience substantially more entertaining). These pleasures I would never know without the benefit of an off-campus kitchen sink.
3) I can receive FedEx packages without having to brave the Master’s Office.
4) Finally, having the ability to drive any screw I wish into my wall, whether it be a painting, mirror, lamp, coat-rack, animal head — well, the pleasure speaks for itself.
1) Hunger. I have not eaten a real meal in days. After moving off-campus, the temptation to curse the meal plan forever made its way to my Student Information Systems Meal Plan Selection menu, where I condemned myself to a life of part-skim string cheese, stale milk and olives. This is not good. I can now be seen clutching a Starbuck’s coffee while walking down High Street three to four times a day.
2) 2 a.m. screams from your roommate when a mouse scurries across her Marc Jacobs pocketbook. It wasn’t the mouse itself that bothered her, but that it touched her pocketbook.
3) Fires and other disasters. The fire in the building, specifically, in the elevator of my building, which, for reasons unknown, has a very convoluted and un-navigable system of stairways in the case of such an emergency. Rushing from my apartment as the alarm went off and as the hallways reportedly filled with smoke, I thought to myself, “I guess this is as good a homework excuse as any.”
I imagined myself reporting a battery of excuses to professors, peers and co-workers, in the event that real life persists in such a fashion:
“I’m sorry, but I was stuck in an elevator.”
“I’m really sorry, but the pest control showed up and I simply can’t tolerate living with these mice anymore.”
“Sorry, but my car was towed.”
“I’m sorry, but my building was on fire.”
Thus, the distractions of real life are Con #3. But at least I can drink it away with stale milk in a Martini glass, over good conversations about hunting (sparked by the decapitated gazelle on my wall) and bad poetry.
S. Zelda Roland enjoys not having to share a shower with the less hygienic members of the Yale community.