Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Roommates Closer

    It’s spring quarter of last year and I’m psyched about my future living situation. One of my soon-to-be apartmentmates had a great housing sign-up time, so we were lucky enough to secure one of the rare and treasured five-girl apartments in Muir. This means we won’t have to scatter through residence hall singles or trek all the way from Warren every day. What could be better? But one month in and it’s clear: Second-year living isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

    To the untrained eye, “on-campus apartment” means on-campus convenience with apartment independence. While convenient, RSOs still prowl the apartment halls, taking pleasure in harassing the audible-music listener. H.A.s still visit frequently and randomly to say hello and serve as reminder for upcoming ice cream socials. And now, rather than across the quad, resident deans live right next door — how cozy. All this doesn’t exactly spell freedom.

    At least second years choose their apartmentmates though. That’s a plus, right? Sort of.

    With apartment living spaces so isolated from neighbors, you better enjoy living with the people you choose — and only those people — because you won’t be seeing much of anyone else. Second year I chose to live with friends I had made outside my suite. While the five of us get along and share common interests, it occurs to me now that living cohesively is more nuanced than that.

    Like most freshmen, last year I was assigned a roommate whom I had never met before — which was immediately obvious to anyone who stepped in our room. Her side was black and red and very simple, mine was an obnoxious explosion of purple, green, blue, orange and pink with pictures covering every surface. She listens to trance music, I like the Beatles — or sometimes E40 — but that’s another story entirely. She has three tattoos, I can barely handle getting shots at the doctor’s office. Clearly we were an unlikely duo. However, it was my roommate that accompanied me on In-N-Out missions to escape the dining commons and pulled Muir 40 all-nighters with me.

    It turns out the housing gods matched us pretty well; maybe having similar sleep patterns, diet and habits are even more important than actually having common interests. Despite our obvious differences, I got along great with my roommate freshman year because we were compatible in all the subtle ways that count. After all, when you’re delirious from lack of sleep and pumping out three more pages of rhetorical analysis it really doesn’t matter what your favorite color is.

    Now it’s a year later, and to begin, one of the five decided to live off campus, leaving a randomly placed freshman to fill her spot. As it turns out, this freshman, though nice, is very shy and I suspect very annoyed with our nearly constant parade of visitors. But that’s really just an assumption based on the few times we’ve run into one another en route to the bathroom. In reality, she could very well be Batgirl, using her room as a temporary secret lair while the Batcave is being remodeled. Who’s to say?

    Besides those awkward encounters, the apartment itself isn’t a structural masterpiece. For reasons unknown, the bathroom floods entirely at random, leaving us to mop up inches of questionable water. When the uninvited sewer has been harnessed, we’re just in time to flee the squealing ring of the fire alarm. This is an alarm that sounds singularly in our apartment when there is no heat, smoke or flame to be found — we aren’t even cooking.

    Our first-floor space evidently attracts no sunlight. Outside it’s 2 p.m. on a sunny afternoon but in my living room it’s the dead of night. As you can imagine, by this point my shins are well acquainted with the coffee table. However, despite the blind escapade that ensues each day my friends remain avid energy-saving sticklers.

    Don’t get me wrong, power saving is the way to be, but this is the Alaskan dark season we’re talking about. My apartmentmates probably prefer the dark because they apparently require much more sleep than me. No all-nighters with this bunch. On the contrary, they don’t share my tendency toward procrastination and distraction. There has been many an evening that I find myself the only one awake as early as midnight. What’s more ridiculous? My apartmentmates aren’t In-N-Out fans; these health nuts say no to meat in favor of green beans. Vegetables? I say pass the French fries, the saltier the better. Guess I should have paid closer attention to that “subtle compatibility” thing.

    While the apartments seemed to be a paradise for second years, they are in practice a dreary concrete maze of isolated suites that hold no special freedom beyond that of the residence halls. So if you happen to be looking for company and your apartmentmates are busy doing something silly like finishing homework in a timely manner or eating tofu, you’re basically shit out of luck. You can’t really make conversation with the kids in the house lounge, because there aren’t any. And obviously second years are just too cool for the campus-sponsored friend-meeting ice cream socials.

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