Let me set the scene for you, interspersed with lots of back-story: I was a Junior at IU. It was my second semester and I had just come back from a semester-long internship in Washington, DC. I was thoroughly convinced that I would be returning to DC upon graduation the following spring and no one could change my mind. (Insert God laughing here…not an evil laugh, of course, but more of a chortle with a raised eyebrow and an “OK…let me know how that works out for you”.)
I was living in a house with four other girls (one one of whom I actually knew) and three guys. This was a former drug house…that’s no joke…but I did say FORMER…my friend Big Dan confirmed it; I had two guys I was friends with at the time, and both were named Dan. One was really tall and the other was not. I look back on this now and we really should have come up with a better naming system, because though we meant no disrespect, we referred to them as “Big Dan” and “Little Dan”. That’s so nice, isn’t it? I still kind of feel badly about that.
Yes, girls and guys living together. It sounds like I was so liberal and at the time I thought I was, but this was actually an arrangement birthed from necessity. I shall explain. All of the original renters were girls, but a couple of them signed the lease sight-unseen. That was their first mistake, because that place was a dump.
At this point I am going to pause, because if you know me at all and the fact that I don’t handle other people’s dirt or squalid living conditions well, you may be asking, “How did you end up in this house?” And that is a very fair question…I would ask it myself, and actually have, as I have ruminated on this over the years. The over-arching answer is that God wanted me to be there. And here’s how He worked it out: My roommate from the dorms the previous year was a year ahead of me in school, and was actually graduating at mid-term her Senior year. She only needed housing for first semester and I only needed it for second semester, due to my internship. So this was the perfect scenario.
I don’t remember thinking about it much at the time, although if it were to happen to me now, I would probably stroke out. I only knew one of the people with whom I would live; my closest friend on the lease (my former roommate) would be gone by the time I arrived. I don’t think you could pay me enough to do such a thing at this point. Did I not care? Was I so blind? What was wrong with me? Or is it that I have become so inhibited in my old age? Let’s go with young and foolish at the time, shall we? I can’t give my Christian walk credit either, as I do not recall any prayerful consideration about it. I’m certain there was little to none, I’m sorry to say.
So, back to the girls who wouldn’t live there but were on the hook for the rent whether they lived there or not; just before school started in the fall, these two girls were scrambling to find anyone to take their place. Their second problem: people actually went to see the house before signing the lease, so needless to say, finding sub-letters presented a bit of a challenge. However, they were apparently lucky girls and we had three guys clamoring for the spots. The guys did not know one another and came to the house independent of each other. But each just needed somewhere to live; they were also in a scramble.
As it turned out, guys and girls together in that same house was an easily-overcome obstacle. There were two entrances to the house: one by way of the front door and one through the walk-out basement. And there was a lock on the door leading down to the basement so the two areas could be kept separate. There were two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom and a galley kitchen in the basement so it worked out “fine” for the three guys to have the lower level (one of them had the living room as his bedroom. A.W.K.W.A.R.D. and the girls would have the upstairs. There was also a bathroom, living room, kitchen and bedroom for each girl in the upstairs.
You may be wondering why this mattered to me, since I wasn’t there in the fall. You would be right to ask because frankly, from August through December, I did not care. I was all about DC and the great fun I was having, I mean all the hard work I was doing. IU? What’s that?
Come January, I was singing a different tune and I did, most certainly, care.
I moved into the house at the tail end of Christmas Break. Sorry…”Winter Break”. I don’t recall much comment at the time, but it has come out in the years since then that my parents really did not want me to live there. I completely understand, as I look back on that, but at the time, it didn’t really bother me. I sometimes wonder who that girl was that went by my name. She’s not the girl you see before you now, I will say that.
So once I arrived, there was some discussion about who would get what room and somehow, even though I was the newby, I ended up getting the biggest bedroom. I thought I had scored big but come to find out, it was the old, closed off sunporch with no insulation. Nice and toasty in the winter, as you can most certainly imagine! But I didn’t care…I had my own room, I was living off-campus with a bunch of people who were 21 or older.
However, it quickly became evident these were not exactly “my kind” of people. Even the one person I had previously known had become a different one during that semester I was away. I am certain it was because of me and the lack of influence I had during those several months…Yeah, not really. That was something which probably would have happened whether I was there or not. And truth be told, as it has been described to me, I am glad to have missed the transformation, but was still upset by the end result. But I digress…
Not that I was a big drinker or party-goer, but mind you, I had turned 21 while in DC. While I could have an alcoholic beverage with most of the people in my DC group, the majority of my friends in Bloomington were under 21. The only Chi Xi who was of legal drinking age was CA (it’s CM now, actually), and she didn’t want to drink. She was possibly the smartest one in our group (not just because she didn’t want to drink, but that fact didn’t hurt her), although there were a total of three Chi Xi’s who have earned PhDs. I am clearly not one of the three.
Anyway, we kept a running list of things which this girl DID NOT know. It was on a legal pad we duct taped to the dorm wall; I think I still have it packed away in a box of Chi Xi treasures. Even after 4 years of school, I think the list only totaled 1 ½ pages. We would use her like we use “Google” today. She knew just about everything. I’m sure she still does.
So since the Brainiac wouldn’t drink with me, imagine my delight to find that I could bar-hop with my roommates. Not that I really liked them, but I could still go out, which was my goal for some reason. (I’m such a big talker, I will tell you that now.)
After a few weeks of being in the house and getting settled in, none of my roommates had invited me to go to the bars with them. As I look back, apparently the feelings I had for them were mutual; I wasn’t really “their kind” of people either. But one of the guys downstairs, with whom I had become chummy, told me that he had a couple friends from Indianapolis who were going to visit him the next week-end. He thought that we should all go out…one big group of roommates together.
Since I hadn’t gone out with them yet, I thought this was my big chance. And I would meet a couple new guys…that made it sound all the better…
Editor’s Note: Yes, I am stopping
here. No, Mr. Always Random and Usually Shallow has not made his entrance into
the story yet, but I foreshadow it...via the title if nothing else. I said I would tell the
story, but I didn’t say it was a short one. If you’ve read me before at all,
you know I get side-tracked with superfluous details sometimes.
|Obviously this is not him when we met. But it was so stinkin' cute I just had to include it.|