Four years of campus housing; a fond(ish) farewell

As I near the end of my stay at our high class campus housing, I feel the need to reminisce on my time here. Maybe its nostalgia, maybe it’s a complete lack of anything recent to write about this week, or perhaps some part of me just wants to get everything in writing in the event of a class action lawsuit.

Either way, as I begin the packing process for the final time (deciding to finally trash my secondhand shag carpet rugs and pineapple lamps in the process) I can’t help but think back to everything I’ve seen as a resident of campus housing.

Due to mismatched schedules, conflicting budgets and preferences, and the fact that some of my friends seem to think the only relevant criteria when renting a property is checking to see if it has four walls and internet; I’ve been unable to live off-campus during my time at UAA.

I began in North Hall, which was nice, well maintained, and relatively uneventful. Well, if I close my eyes and try to block out memories of my two muscle-bound roommates lobbing punches at each other and any solid objects in the immediate vicinity, then it seems uneventful. Coming home to a sea of empty Natural Ice beer cans (which the roommate in question claimed to have been hurled by the “Natty-pult”) and a hole in my wall one day before move-out was probably a low of the year. Needless to say I quickly learned to consider my housing deposit as some tribute to an unknown god, never to be seen again.

I do however, have fond memories of cranking all the showers and sinks to maximum heat to turn the room into a sauna and serving some variation of tropical shave ice while we blasted reggae to try and hold off the crushing darkness of December.

For my sophomore and junior years, the MACs remained a fixture in my life that I’ll always remember no matter how much therapy I attend. In my first semester I moved upwards of five different times due to mold, shrew infestations, reoccurring flooding, and a roommate who made the questionable decision to allow a homeless man to sleep on our floor. I have fond memories of gazing out the window as campus police were called in to tame a raucously drunk hockey party for the third time that month in the apartment across the way.

While I certainly appreciated the opportunity to use the window as a convenient entrance on nights that I misplaced my key card in a less than sober state; the benefit was null compared to the nightly fire alarm caused by residents who didn’t seem to understand that smoke detectors also react to incense, bongs and 3:00 a.m. burned popcorn. By the time I had left the MACs I had developed an unsettling numbness to fire alarms that may very well be the death of me.

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When I finally moved into a Templewood apartment my senior year, it was as if I had achieved nirvana and ascended to a new form of life. Never mind that the shower didn’t drain, the toilet didn’t flush and the heat was malfunctioning at best; I had a garage and a fireplace. Within a few hours time I was able to extract two feet of hair from the drain, fix the toilet with zip ties and duct tape, and start a fire large enough to warm the space until the heat decided to cooperate. With the exception of having to teach my roommate how to wash his clothes and dishes as well as cook, the rest of my stay ran smoothly.

At the end of it all I roomed with friends, RA’s, foreign exchange students, and a disproportionately high number of alcoholics. I was complicit in multiple plans to create Nerf forts out of decrepit furniture, a scheme to bake three cans of chili and a bag of Fritos into a “casserole”, and participated in a therapy session conducted by our favorite RA who made us an “anger orange” (essentially a citrus with a crudely drawn face that was to be passed around the room as we shared our grievances). I once watched a man use a bungee to snowboard off the top of a parking garage and nab a sketchy back flip on the way down without missing a beat.

So as I begin packing I realize that while I wouldn’t wish four years of crumbling infrastructure, mayhem and low living standards on anyone, I also wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Campus housing may have been a struggle at times, and it almost certainly took years off my life, but at the end of the day all our lives really come down to the stories we tell. And when you measure life by the stories, then I’m convinced I’ve lived an eternity in these past four years.

So here’s to my few remaining weeks before I’m on to the next big adventure.