College living as a transient neat-freak

Cabin on the Lake
One thing that greatly aided in my enjoyment of college life at Andrews was embracing a new found freedom.  Apartment living.  I commuted the whole four years to Bethel College.  That wasn’t going to work going to Andrews, and besides, I really wanted my own place.  So I got an apartment at Castle Point in South Bend with a couple of Bethel friends.  I learned very quickly that what I expected of myself wasn’t what most college guys lived out.  That first apartment was a great set up, but evidently I was a "neat-freak" and only performed at my best when everything was in its proper place.  My two roomies tested this theory from time to time when they would make minor adjustments to items on my desk or bookshelves.  Not knowing I was being played, I would stop as I walked into my room, sense something was wrong, and then turn the items to their proper place or position.  I'm a lot less like this now, though my family would probably disagree with that.

Once when I stopped by our place over Christmas Break, and my other two room mates were back at home in Michigan, I was confused why there were three people I didn’t know hanging out in our apartment and eating our food.  And sleeping in my bed.  And wearing my underwear. I wonder what the three bears would have done had Goldie Locks been wearing their briefs.

The next year we were down to just two of us.  We found a smaller pad on the west side of South Bend at Indian Springs.  It worked out great, but we rarely saw each other as architecture studio was making bigger demands on my time.  The following year I moved across the state line into Michigan.
It wasn’t the typical college or bachelor pad, but it was awesome nonetheless.  I knew that I would be looking for someplace new my third year and it was mentioned that some of my mother’s cousins had a few lake cabins at their fishing resort in Buchanan, Michigan.  This sounded intriguing.  So one summer day I drove to Buchanan to check it out and they were willing to rent me the only cabin in which you wouldn’t freeze to death during the winter.  The cabin looked like a bit of a shack, but it had that quintessential fishing/lake cabin feel that I couldn’t pass up.  And the drive would take me half the distance it had from South Bend to Berrien Springs.
I moved into the cabin in October and had the place to myself.  The living room was perched well above the shore so it felt as though nothing separated you from the lake which was largely surrounded with wilderness.  And since I was the only one around in the off season, I found that I enjoyed the solitude.  Having the escape from studio where I could still work on my projects was also a good thing.
I remember the seasons probably the most in that little cabin.  After a few weeks of living there the fall colors broke onto the scene and reflected off the lake some days as if it were on fire.  An old friend, Dave, who had helped me move into the cabin, surprised me one afternoon as I pulled up by yelling my name from a boat he was fishing from on the lake.  The next weekend we both went out on the lake.  January was a particularly cold month with a lot of snow.  I remember hunkering down for a few days while roads were shut down from the heavy snow that Buchanan seemed especially prone to receiving.  The benefit was that I was also taking photography and used the whole wooded resort as my photo studio, particularly given how snow can be an incredible subject in black and white.  As the warmer spring months landed at my cabin door I would open all the windows and fall asleep on the couch to the brushing of the waves on the shore below.  I have called this experience my own “Walden Pond” as it probably came at the pinnacle of a shift in my ideology.
A good friend and archi-colleague and I found a place together our 4th year in Berrien Springs.  It was one of the near-slumlord ran houses-turned college apartment that filled the little village.  Roland moved his girlfriend (now wife) in the day after we signed the lease.  I don't think I was expecting that.  Most of my time was spent at the studio or office anyway.  There was one night while I was working upstairs in my room I heard power equipment being used.  And it sounded like it was being used on my oak table in the kitchen.  And it was.
By my fifth year, and unless you think me a lackie-there are 5 years to architecture education, I had blown my summer savings on that Mustang and I honestly thought that I would only need to bum a night off my buddies here and there since I was very part-time.  The night here and there turned into every night except for Friday and Saturday, and sometimes Sunday.  My friend Chad called me "homeless".  I mostly slept on Chad's couch.  I tried Sean's couch, but he had built it himself.  Enough said.  Later I shifted to my buddy, Krazy's couch after Chad got a girlfriend and kicked me out.  It was sad, I lived out of a black leather duffel bag.  I still have it today.  In my defense, I always bought the guys groceries and dinner out.


Jim said…
I'm a little persnickety too when it comes to things in their place. This is why after living with three other guys all through college, when I got my first job and first apartment I turned down EVERY LAST offer to be my roommate.

Kinda jealous of your Walden situation!

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