Every now and then when I have to attend some function on campus (most likely involving football, gymnastics, or a spending spree at the campus bookstore), I pass the apartment complex where I lived for a while when I was in college.
I didn't live in a dorm or an apartment when I first started college. Our home was only about 10 miles from campus (at least where freshmen had to park....actual campus was another day's ride away.....or so it seemed), so I just commuted from home. It was cheaper that way, but I think I missed some of the college experience. I didn't meet a whole lot of new people, because there were so many of us from my high school there that we mostly just hung around together.
My mother moved to Atlanta for a while, and Katydid and I shared the house I had lived in since I was 12 years old. We split expenses, although I'm sure Katydid paid more than her fair share. I worked part-time, and I was able to pay my tuition because I drew Social Security after my step-father's death. Then Katydid got married, Mom moved home, and it was verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry tough to go back to living in "mama's house" again after being pretty much on my own.
She threatened to whip me one day (probably said she was going to "beat me half to death," her favorite phrase) because I didn't clean my room, and that was the final straw. I was 19 years old, for heaven's sake!
I went on my own and found an adorable little one-bedroom apartment not far from campus. I could ride a city transit bus to campus and avoid the trouble of looking for a parking place. I once tried to see how long I could go without moving my car. I made it two weeks, but the city buses didn't run on the weekends, at least not to the places I wanted to go.
I lived on the bottom floor of a two-story unit, in the apartment on the far right end. My apartment number was F-13, and it didn't bother me a bit. In fact, I don't remember even acknowledging the fact that I lived in number 13. It was pretty spacious, especially the one bedroom. There were two doors to the outside (a building code requirement, I think), but they were side by side. One opened into the living room, the other into the kitchen.
I didn't even tell my mother I was moving until I had signed the lease. My rent was around $200 a month, I think. I had to budget very carefully to pay all the bills and still afford my social life. I had no furniture except for what family members gave me. Mom actually came to my apartment and gave me my first television - a hand-me-down, of course, but I was proud to have it. We had never had cable before, but it was something I splurged on. We hooked the television up, and I immediately turned it to the Braves game. Mom was so proud that the t.v. worked. Then I said (because I never learned the art of keeping my mouth shut and/or being gracious), "Uh.....the Braves don't wear green."
My apartment building was on a busy street, but it backed up to a wooded area. I tried to save money by leaving the windows open at night when it wasn't too hot or cold, and the night noises sometimes made me uneasy. I wasn't normally a nervous person, but I imagined all sorts of evil folks hiding in the kudzu and jumping out to do me harm after dark.
I took a friend home very, very late one night, and when I was coming home to my apartment a car pulled in behind me. Then it turned on its blue lights. I almost peed in my pants on the spot. It was none other than Figment, in his brief stint as a police officer. He saw me driving home, and it was almost time for him to get off work. He laughed at having scared me, then he said he might drop by when his shift ended. I slept on the sofa all night with the lights on just hoping he would come by. (Don't we do STUPID stuff? Hello? Anyone out there?)
I was so proud of my little apartment. It wasn't luxurious by far, but it was all mine. I didn't have to clean it if I didn't want to (usually didn't), and I didn't have to answer to anyone else. I think every woman in the world ought to live completely alone at least once in her life. I used to teach with a girl who had moved straight from her parents' house to the one she shared with her husband, and she was terrified to stay alone. When her husband went out of town on hunting trips, she had to pay a former student to come stay at her house with her. I find that very sad.
The first winter I lived there, my electricity bill went up and up and up. I expected it to go up some during the winter, but it got out of hand. I turned the heat down and down and down, and I was freezing to death. But the electricity bill kept going up. Then I had problems with the water heater. I couldn't take even a short shower without running out of hot water. I went by the leasing office one day to pay my rent, and I casually mentioned my hot water problem. They came out and discovered something wrong with the hot water heater, which they repaired immediately. When I mentioned my electricity bill, the manager said for me to bring my bills for the last three months and she would adjust my rent. I wasn't expecting that kindness, and I almost cried right there in the office. I didn't know leasing offices could have decent, kind-hearted people working in them!
I didn't have much furniture, but I did have my piano. I should probably issue a blanket apology to any and all of my neighbors whom I might have disturbed with my playing.
There was a Burger King right across the street from my apartment. It came in handy for those Saturday mornings when a little grease was what I needed to settle my stomach from Friday night's social events.
The only thing I wish about my first apartment is that I had been into cycling back then. The ride to campus every morning would have been sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet, down a steep hill almost right to the bookstore. Coming home in the afternoon might have been a beeyotch, but I guess I'll never know.
Sometimes I miss that little apartment. I wonder if the people who live there now would mind if I drop by just to look around a little.....