My summer in Kent: Round One

Adam Griffiths

As you near the end of your second year of living on campus, you start to get real antsy about the next few months of your life. You’re coming to the end of a long, fairly ridiculous period of being told you’re free to live as you want but within a set of guidelines an entire handbook thick. Granted, said guidelines are meant for protection of the community and guaranteeing the building will remain livable and in one piece.

You can stay in this situation for the rest of your college career – or you can grow up just a little bit more and move off campus. It’s what the many of students here do. You feel antsy about it – you just can’t wait for that freedom. It’s not antsy like you were the day you moved in the fall of your freshman year here. This nervous trepidation is real – genuine excitement to finally tear down that wall of restriction and live alone. Your rules. Your time. Your life.

My nervous trepidation wore off before classes even ended this past spring. The excitement of starting to pack the past two years of my life away into a random assortment of boxes and tubs was replaced by moaning and groaning as I coordinated the signing of my lease between parents in two states, balanced moving everything from my dorm room to my apartment while procrastinating during finals week and did all the things a new renter needs to do – turn on the electricity, sign up for cable, call for renter’s insurance. The list went on.

So after a long weekend of many trips to Ikea at home and a Mother’s Day spent with my mom and grandma scrubbing, unpacking and building, I shut the door. I turned around.

I was alone. No roommate. No family. No anyone. It was evening, and the porch door was open because it was cool out. It was quiet, and I was alone.

That first week I had nothing to do other than work two days in Cleveland at my internship. I would come home, make myself something that barely resembled a proper meal and sit on the computer and watch TV. And then I did what I do when I get bored – I had sex. With 12 people that week, to be exact.

I think it was exactly one week later when I lay in bed crying because I felt alone. I missed my old roommate. I didn’t really know anyone in Kent, as all my friends were home or away for the summer. I didn’t know if I had the motivation and drive to do the whole living alone thing, and I think that’s what was the scariest thing of all. That, and while I’ve never been afraid of the dark, I still find it creepy and try to fall asleep as fast as possible.

So I sit here almost three months later on a Sunday afternoon just off work from my twice a week, five-hour shift job in my underwear with a bowl of chicken soup and half a grilled cheese sandwich. The apartment needs to be vacuumed. I’ve become an expert at washing just what dishes I need and arranging the dirty ones left in the sink so that they all fit just right. I’m pretty sure I need to clean the bathroom sometime soon, and I finally got sick of all my clothes (both dirty and clean) being strewn across my bedroom, so I shoved them all in the hamper and closet so that I can bear to walk in my bedroom without feeling like a loser. I feel more and more like I’m turning into some straight stereotypical man. It’s scary.

Living alone makes you feel like a loser a lot. My best friend is living alone across town, and when we’re not at each other’s apartments, we’re talking online about how lonely this all is. And on top of being lonely, it’s kind of allusive to the future. I was talking to one of my friends who is living on his campus up in Cleveland and doing 9-to-5, five days a week this summer. I think he put it best: “I come home at 6. Beat off. Get food and go to bed. It’s pathetic.”

That’s pretty much my life, too. I sit around and ask myself: Is this what I have to look forward to? No wonder they tell you to love what you do and find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Otherwise, all you have to look forward to is a life you’re free to live, no one to live it with and nights and evenings that pretty much blow. We’ll see how much changes. Next summer I’ll be out of Kent doing another internship and probably missing all I leave behind. But the summer after that, the summer of 2010, I’ll be right back where I am today. I hope, though, it will be a little less lonely, a little more humble and maybe with a roommate – some kind of sign that that nervous trepidation wasn’t all in vain.

Adam Griffiths is a junior visual journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater.

Contact him at [email protected].