“Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?” ~Against Me!, I Was a Teenage Anarchist
I graduated college when I was 22. When I graduated, I knew I wanted a change of scenery. I lived in St. Louis my entire life and was ready to find out what it was like to live somewhere else. After I graduated, I took a crappy office job to pay the bills. I needed money and a job I could easily leave once I found my ticket out of town. I graduated in May, and my ticket arrived that August. I received a call from one of my best buds living in Chicago. It was a simple question and an easy answer. “Hey. One of my roommates is moving out at the end of September. Do you still want to move up here?” The answer was yes. An immediate yes. I was going to be living in a three bedroom apartment with two male roommates – both already good friends of mine.
The following October 1st, I printed some resumes, packed whatever I could fit in my car and drove 300 miles to Chicago alone. I had $600. I can’t fully explain the wave of emotions and empowerment I felt leaving a stable life behind to see what else was out there. It was absolutely liberating.
When I pulled up to my apartment, my bud was there waiting. I immediately knew I made the right decision. We unloaded my car and had some beers…pretty much setting the tone for the next year of what life would be like in my new home. That year was fueled with booze, jokes, laughing, late night food, wheel barrel bonfires and rooftop fireworks. I think when you’re 22, this is the best time to do all of these things. It turns out you can get away with a lot of bad behavior when your neighbor is a drug dealer who doesn’t give a shit, and your landlord doesn’t renew the lease of the people in the apartments above you. Here are some things you would have witnessed on any given weekend in my first apartment:
- You would have seen my friends chop up old furniture found in the storage units left by old tenants with a samurai sword in the middle of the living room. Not on the floor. No, no. That’s boring. Someone would have been holding up a chair in the air while another person swung the sword. I have no idea how we have all of our limbs.
- You would have seen my friends and I take that chopped up furniture, put it in a wheel barrel we found from somewhere and set it all on fire. You might have also seen my bud push it around the yard while the flames were in full force.
- It’s possible you would have walked in the backyard and witnessed two dudes naked in a kiddie pool attempting to start a whirl pool…at 8am after drinking champagne all night.
- At the time, I was the only one in the house with a 9-5 job. So you would have seen my bud come home hammered from his bar job, kick open my bedroom door and yell, “Wake up, bitch! Lets do some shots!” This was usually around 3am. I woke up for work at 6am. A handful of times, you would have seen me actually get up and do shots with him. Ok, more than a handful.
- After a minor bike accident (where my bud was trying to race me home on his bike. I was in a cab….), you would have seen our drunk selves laughing while trying to turn paper towels and duct tape into Band-Aids.
- When we had nothing better to do, we would sneak to the rooftop of our building, which we were specifically told was off limits, and shoot off bottle rockets into the condos being built across the street.
- While I was out of town you would have seen my bud rub his butt on the handle of the doorknob to my bedroom door and leave a note on my dresser telling me what I just touched when I got home. You also would have seen the sign he left on my pillow…”I farted on one of your pillows. Guess which one?”
What else? Who knows? It was all documented on film that was later stolen from my second apartment. We keep waiting for these videos to show up on YouTube. Between the videos and pictures, I could never run for office. I’m glad. It means I lived. I think all 22 year olds should get a year to act a fool before the pains of true adulthood kick in. I credit that apartment and experience for so many things. It opened my eyes to a new world, new people, new friends, gave me a new perspective on life, and, despite the stories to the contrary, it helped me grow up. It’s one of those years I will reflect on and appreciate for the rest of my life.