A sophomore at the University of Memphis, Shakiera is moving out of her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to be closer to her school life in Memphis, TN. With money in her pocket and restlessness in her shoes, she’s ready to move into her first apartment and fully experience every part of being an independent, living, working adult…officially.
The lease has been signed, deposit paid, roommate secured, furniture bought (but not yet assembled), a moving date selected and I have a new address to call home. It’s official, I am moving into my first apartment. I am living out the dream we’ve all had since we were kids: growing up, moving out and living by my rules, my way. I couldn’t be more excited, or more surprised at how quickly the big day is arriving. I didn’t think I’d be here a year ago today, but the entire process has been easier than I thought so far. (Minus the heavy lifting and late nights packing).
I suffered a year of dorm living (along with Hernando, Normand, Sandy and Fez, the cockroaches that frequented the room) and the horrors of living in one tiny room with a complete stranger. We had different study habits, different schedules, different standards of cleanliness and different levels of sanity. Just kidding! (Kind of.) Even in a shared space I can honestly say I had less than 30% of the room. While I found it necessary to bring only the necessities (fridge, microwave, clothing, books, bedding, etc.), my roommate at the time thought packing her entire childhood into our living space would make the tiny dorm feel more like “home”. I went to bed each night being stared down by a creepy, toothless grinning picture of my roommate at 5 years old and plush “Twilight” vampires threatening to snuggle. That is, if I could shut my eyes with the blinding neon pink theme that was eating away at our walls.
Needless to say, this wasn’t the ideal living situation. Communal bathrooms and all.
Meanwhile, outside of my dorm life, living in my friend’s basement in Atlanta wasn’t really working either. Going back and forth every two months from Atlanta to Memphis and back again was getting expensive. I didn’t belong anywhere. I needed a permanent residence, a place to settle. I was ready to put everything I owned in one place and call it my “home”. I was tired of just visiting, going from place to place just long enough to pack my bags again. It was time, I could feel it in my bones. With the price of on campus living rising significantly in Fall 2010, it made sense to get a place off-campus. This was my chance! It was the bright neon sign flashing before my eyes saying, “Go for it!”, and I had the perfect roommate in mind!
I met my roommate, who we’ll call “Will” for his privacy (yes, as in “Will and Grace”) at the University of Memphis. We lived on opposite sides of the same dorm building and would often meet up late nights and trade dorm-living horror stories over Mountain Dew and doughnuts down the street from campus. We didn’t really get close until we experienced two-hours of “moving your body like a river” together in our Theater Performance class, looking to each other for support with goofy grins on our faces, trying to suppress the masses of giggles and snorts trying to escape. I couldn’t see myself taking this leap independence with anyone else, I needed someone who’d keep me laughing. We may be the less lavish (and less co-dependent) version of “Will and Grace”, but our little apartment might as well be Barbie and Ken’s dream house…. which surprisingly, wasn’t that hard to find.
Our apartment is just a few blocks from campus. It has all hardwood floors and big windows that let in lots of natural light. Our kitchen and dining/living room are on the first level, and the bathroom and 2 bedrooms are upstairs. It was just big enough for the two of us. $625 a month including water between the two of us. Not bad. We took a tour of one of the apartments together, initially as a joke back in May. As we walked through the apartment and began discussing what life off campus would be like, the idea didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. We immediately expressed interest, which I believe was the secret to our successful apartment hunt. By June we were signing papers and come July I was sending out my new address to everyone I knew. And just like that I had an apartment!
So, I’m sitting in my room and taking it all in, but looking around, I can’t envision the mountains of boxes flooding my bedroom unpacking into the layout of my new place. It’s a little overwhelming. I can’t say that it’s easy leaving the city where you were born and raised to move forward with your young-adult life, but I have no regrets. I know that this is exactly what I need to do. It feels right.