A Partner's Perspective: Campus Living

I thought it would be easy to move from a 2000 square foot house into an “itsy-bitsy-teeny-weenie-yellow-polka-dot” two-bedroom Soldiers Field Park (SFP) apartment. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t bikini cute (or even polka-dotted), but I figured I could tough it out for two years. Really, what’s sacrificing a little space when the alternative was spending $700 more for a third bedroom? With that kind of money I could buy 10 new pairs of shoes, or host a slamming Girls’ Night, or spend a weekend in Paris – and not just once, but every month!!

I was being realistic, I told myself. My kids are young and don’t require much space. And we’d spend most of our time outside, anyway.

I don’t know what psycho, rose-colored glass world I was trying to live in.

Addy (age 4) and Jack (age 1) can’t sleep in the same room. Addy coughs, Jack wakes up and cries, Addy wakes up and yells, Nate (NA) wakes up and gets mad, and I try to smother myself with a pillow. After a few nights, Addy started sleeping in my bed and I resigned myself to the couch. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a comfy couch, but I like my bed better.

So now no one was sleeping well (except maybe the kids, but at this minute they don’t count.) The saying, “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” became my new reality. I was tired of seeing my living room covered in toys and my kitchen sink full of dishes (that’s right, my teenie-weeny apartment was too small for a dishwasher.) I was tired of Jack climbing from the radiator to the couch to the desk across the computer keyboard to get to the phone (he’s a fan of 10-10-321.) I was tired of Addy harvesting junk mail from the desk garbage can for coloring media (what kind of mother lets her kid play with trash?).

I was tired of having to unload half of my front closet to get to the vacuum, or the toy shelf, or the laundry detergent, or my winter coat, or a fresh jar of spaghetti sauce, or a stroller (really, all that stuff, and more, fit into my front closet – it’s called “creative space-saving”). I was also tired of the walls closing in on me after an eternity of sub-freezing temperatures. Frankly, I was just tired. I needed to be back in my own bed, and I didn’t even care about the extra $700 a month anymore (and that’s saying a ton, as anyone who knows me will attest.)

So I called the HRES Future & Immediate Housing listing. As luck would have it, there were a number of three bedroom units available – two in SFP and two in One Western Avenue (OWA). We toured each apartment and measured the layouts (and closet rod space). Apartment 3A in SFP was a townhouse style unit. I swear it was bigger than my three bedroom with full basement and 1/2 acre fenced yard-place in Pennsylvania (it’s amazing what tight quarters do to your space perception). And by golly, it even had a dining room. I started dreaming about hosting one of those Section A small group dinner parties.

I could overlook having to travel with my laundry to another building, and having to venture outside in sub-zero weather to get to the parking garage. And I could overlook all the stairs. Wait, no I couldn’t. Jack may be rough and tumble, but after our Halloween day visit to the ER for a nasty fall off my four foot high bed (again, “creative space-saving” at work), I wasn’t going to take a chance. Which meant that unit 9A in SFP was also out.

We also immediately eliminated #136 in OWA – it was only about 200 square feet bigger than our two bedroom SFP place, and it faced Western Ave on the ground floor. It didn’t have elevator access to the soon-to-be-finished (wishful thinking at the time) parking garage, AND you had to leave the building to get to the mailroom and the laundry room. AND it cost the same as all the other (bigger and better) three bedroom units at OWA. I didn’t have to wonder why that unit was still empty.

Now we were left with only one viable alternative – a unit in the OWA tower. I will admit I was a little put off by the architecture. If this is what form came up with, I really think function should have won out. (I doubt I was the first to question OWA. I mean it’s weird looking, has a weird layout, and does anyone else think it’s weird to reserve the top three floors for mechanical space? Can a heating unit really appreciate the view?)

But the swipe card granted us entry without having to “do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight” as I was used to doing with the SFP door key. The elevator came when it was called and asked how high on the way up. And when the apartment door opened we entered our own little nirvana. After all, this place had 320 inches of closet rod – a 60% increase over our old place. And it had a dishwasher, and lights in the bedrooms, and central A/C, and thermostats, and solid-surface countertops, and two super-huge, what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-this-space bathrooms! Who could ask for anything more? (Maybe a new Toyota? 2004 Sienna, preferably.)

So Nate drew the floor plan and cut out miniature pieces of paper furniture to make sure everything would fit just right. (Yeah he’s a little “detail oriented”. But if he didn’t do it I would have. And he’s better with the graph paper.) So to make a long story short (or is it too late for that?), we said, “oh yes, yes, yes” and, “thank you very much” and moved into our new place on the last day of finals.

So now I’m enjoying this Boston winter (can anyone really do that?) in the warmth and space (and at one point, flooding – but that’s another story) of my fabulously expensive OWA apartment. Addy has her own bedroom, and Jack has his own bathroom, and my desk phone and garbage have their own office, and I have my own bed back. Our days are filled with “short-cuts” to the mailroom (up the elevator to the 6th floor, across the bridge, down the elevator to the 2nd floor, through the court, down the elevator to the lobby, and into the mailroom) where we have a super-sized mailbox (meaning fewer trips to the Spangler post office, which isn’t open on Saturdays, for packages that didn’t quite fit), and doing laundry where the dryer cycle is only 56 minutes.

So what if my bedroom door is too thick for my over-the-door shoe rack, and so what if I have to venture out at 7 am every Sunday to find my Boston Globe because the carrier leaves it in some obscure lobby that only a handful of people ever enter (I suppose s/he is as confused by the architecture as I am?) And it isn’t too much of a bother that the fire alarms are hypersensitive and over active. And who really needs more than one phone jack per line? What it all comes down to is this: Mom’s happy again. And yes, Section A, I’d love to host a small group dinner, even without the dining room.