Welcome to the tales of a self-described germaphobe living in a unanimously-described mansion of filth. Let’s embark on this journey together.
I’ll start with a quick About the Author. I am not a fan of germs. I have germaphobic habits, but I couldn’t be clinically germaphobic because I share drinks with people, and eat their food, and exchange chapsticks, because life would be nothing if not inconvenient if I didn’t do those things. But if the words “I feel nauseous” escape someone’s lips, I will absolutely leave them in their time of need. Out the door. I’ll let it hit them on my way out, I don’t care.
If this serves as any self-redemption since you probably think I totally suck now, I will say that if you really, really required my presence, I would be there for you, mask in hand. If you have a cold or the regular flu, I’ll buy you medicine and crackers, but I’ll toss them to you from beyond the threshold of the room. However, if it’s the stomach flu, I won’t step into your area code unless you’re one of my three immediate family members. But if you’re sick from alcohol or a really hard workout, I can deal because I won’t catch it. I have to like… really love you though. The list of qualifications is quite extensive.
Despite all of this, here I am, living in the Sigma Chi fraternity house at USC. Prior to my move-in date, I had been informed— nay, warned, of the lack of cleanliness exhibited here. By adults, USC students, and one-time visitors of the house alike. I did not take this information with a grain of salt; I registered it, accepted it, and embraced it. You know how there are five stages of grief? Those were my three stages of preparation for the five stages.
What am I doing living in a frat house? Valid question. Long story kind of short: I thought I was going to live and intern somewhere at home this summer, and I was really looking forward to that. And if not live at home, then at my grandparents’ house in East Bay, if I found work there instead. During the spring semester, I searched for internships in Sacramento and the Bay Area, until I finally asked my Chapman advisor if he had any places in mind for me to apply. When he asked what kind of work I was looking for, he lit up— he is full of awesome connections for my field. But when he asked me where I’d been sending my resume, he lit down, and was forced to remind me that those are the wrong cities to look, and that the metropolis right in front of me was bleeding opportunities for where I was headed. So after that conversation, I refocused my search and found a job down south. I needed to find a place to live for the summer kind of quickly, and my cousin’s frat house turned out to be hundreds of dollars cheaper than even the cheapest apartment sublets. Damn you, LA.
So now that I’ve moved in, I can compare my visualizations to the real deal. *Sigh.* You win some, you lose some.
Brief interruption: I just want to say that despite any negative things I say, they will all be said with a blithe, loving attitude. I’m super grateful to have found a place to live, smack in the middle of the LA skyline that has mesmerized me since before I can remember. The people I've met in the house are incredibly nice, and I have had a ton of great experiences since moving in. The first day was just suuuuper interesting.
Upon arrival, two of my roommates from Chapman who came to help move me in, and I, emerged from my van and took in the sights of the backyard. To paint a word picture: Garbage! Everywhere! Not sure how old. No problem. It’s not smelly, it’s just broken glass, outdated TVs, old kegs and cardboard. Nothing a tetanus shot and closed-toed shoes couldn’t combat. We progress past the volleyball sand court, hop over the garbage pit onto the sidewall that leads to the backdoor, and punch in the code for the front door. My room is not far down the hall, and when I punch in another separate code to enter, we are greeted by an untouched 30 rack of Coors Light and a pair of nunchucks hanging on my wall. Score! My mental pro-con tally board is back at equilibrium after being weighed down by the garbage pit.
Zack and some buddies help me move my furniture in, I clean a few pounds of dust from my bedroom floor, and voila— I get to live the frat life. I make some friends, and some discoveries. For instance, a keg was found in one of the women’s showers. When alerted and asked if he knew it was there, one tenant responded “Yeah. It’s shower keg.” Message received: Don’t find yourself in a situation where alcohol is not readily available. And if you do, don’t fret. Stick a keg there and know better for next time.
I’ve met some awesome people! I’ve stuck with two of my hall mates, Paige and Madisen, for the past five weeks now, and we have gotten through the highs and lows of frat living together, which has been quite the saving grace. I have learned, or at least the knowledge has been reinforced for me, that three 20 year old women, when put together, especially in an unfamiliar environment, become multi-purpose friends to each other: the moms, the instigators, the confidants, the fashion critics, and the adventure pals. Sometimes we come home from our work days and share stories over a few glasses of wine. Sometimes we do laundry together or embark on an all-day errand run. Other times, one will provide a glass of bourbon while the other prepares a sterilized needle to pierce the third’s cartilage in the bathroom. Or sometimes, a relaxing girls day at the pool. It’s just hard to predict, you know?