Fort Apache

28 Aug

This past week I moved into my off-campus apartment here at Villanova. Although I was scared to start classes, I was eager to embrace my friends after three months apart and ready to pull off the cardboard tab and secure the nozzle on a box of wine. Although I knew my apartment wasn’t the finest of living situations, I didn’t realize just how badly I would need that wine after move in.

Perhaps the most instantly shocking feature of the apartment, which, after some brainstorming, has been rightfully been nicknamed Fort Apache, is its walls. I can only describe the color of the walls as old piss. And it’s everywhere. There is not a single square centimeter of wall that survived the urine apocalypse. The walls, the bedroom doors, the moldings, the pipes, and even the radiators all share the same dim and putrid shade.

Now maybe if the walls had been painted white (or any other color with the slightest bit of brightness within the past three decades) the terrible lighting in the apartment wouldn’t be so bad. The kitchen has a single tube light that sheds nothing on the situation, which might be a good thing being that the kitchen is such a vile room that you really don’t want to see anything. But as for the other rooms, there are no globes covering the lights (because the cheap landlord claims you don’t need them to pass inspection) and the light in my room didn’t even work. When the electrician came to fix the light we smooth talked him into getting us some globe covers, which we hope he returns with eventually. And once he does return, we will surely be batting our eyelashes in the hopes that he feels bad enough for our living situation that he changes the kitchen light.

The fact that the apartment will never get clean has been accepted. But the fact that we can’t keep the bugs out has not been. The gaps between the doors and their shoddy frames welcome any and all creatures and weather– no discriminating there! Although there have been sightings of mouse poop it doesn’t bother us much – we haven’t heard of a student housing situation without mice and/or mouse poop sightings. I was told by a friend of a case of a mouse emerging from within the stove – yes, literally came out of the burner on the stove. How is that even possible you may ask? We just sit here and mentally sedate ourselves so that we don’t ask these questions anymore.

Last night before going to bed, I felt the faint feathery feeling of a spider web on my arm. I tried to brush it off and ignore it, but I couldn’t shake the sensation on my arm. I lay in my bed staring around my room trying to differentiate between the holes in the wall and a potential spider, and I finally spotted the sucker on the light fixture. I stared at him for a little while wondering what my next move was. As I hopped up to kill him, deciding I didn’t want him crawling on top of me during the night, he started to descend from the light. In a moment of sheer panic I grabbed a folder off my desk and ripped it open. When he descended to arms reach, I slammed him between the folder. I did not open it up after. I put it right back on the shelf.

I woke up this morning to some more exciting surprises. As I went to wash a plate in the kitchen, a long and hairy caterpillar started crawling out of the sink. I grabbed a piece of paper towel and smooshed him, feeling quite accomplished. But when I went to move the plate again, a massive cockroach-like mega-grasshopper started running towards me. It took me three attempts at getting him, three squeals, and three hot flashes before I finally killed him. But afterwards, I felt proud. That’s right; I got ‘em.

So here I sit on the futon in the living room, setting the mood with a lemon-scented candle that I hope will cover some of the apartment’s natural stench, watching meals be cooked on the food network that I will never even attempt in the room over from me, and sweating from the lack of air conditioner. Yet surprisingly, I think I’m getting used to it. My twenty-something year old mattress has an amazing mattress cover. I bought a candle for my bedroom that smells like the delicious Dior perfume I can’t afford. I’ve got a few pictures of a few important people up on my walls. And I have my sweaty gym clothes hanging on the door knob like I usually do back at home.

Maybe this is just something everyone has to experience: the dirty off-campus senior life. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to go to a school like Villanova, and I’m glad that I recognize that. Although I know many people that are endlessly grateful to be where they are, I also know people who never sit back to think about what they’ve been given. If living in this apartment for a year is my biggest problem, then I think I’m doing pretty well. As long as the critters keep their distance and I find and kill the fly that just buzzed in my ear, I think I’ll be able to make it.

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