UZORNIKOVA: Read Before Living Alone

A Semi-Informational, Semi-Cautionary Semi-Tale


On the fine morning of Monday, Jan. 20, I ran for my newly-independent life as I sprinted towards McKeon Hall because the moving company came one hour early. A month and a half later, I can’t believe that it’s only been a month and a half since I’ve been living alone. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about being privileged enough to have my own place at 19 — I’m on cloud nine. But I do think that I would have been better adjusted if I had known what I know now before I moved out. If you’re contemplating moving out next year, you are welcome to learn from my mistakes. If you’re just along for the ride, I hope you have fun reading about my suffering. 

The sheer amount of money you will spend on things you never knew cost that much is the first highlight of this little emotional roller coaster. For example, the mattress. Since I’m not into the practice of sleeping on bare hardwood floors, I embarked on a quest to Mattress Firm on 72nd and Broadway, full of hope. I exited the store two hours later, full of existential questions. To an average college student, getting a mattress is a pretty serious financial commitment. If you’re one of those people who signed up for the most expensive meal plan, then you’re probably fine. 

Say your apartment is finally set up: a Steve Buscemi poster on your bedroom wall and a trashcan on fire. Surprise, surprise! This harmonious feng shui composition is not going to maintain itself. Whatever disorder you could previously blame on your (not entirely guiltless) roommates is now entirely on you. 

How exactly do you deal with the mess that is your life without spiraling into control-centered madness? You don’t. I tried everything: shelled out more money on cleaning supplies, attempted to come up with a waste-reduced lifestyle, almost threw out my keys into the trash chute in the process. 

I do have a clean apartment. But am I sane? As you may begin to suspect, not entirely. 

Your life is finally void of garbage, at least physically. The claustrophobia you first felt, surrounded by unpacked boxes, fades. Worry not, your mood quickly goes into complete reverse as you realize that there is too much space. And it doesn’t matter how filled with vintage Star Trek collectibles your apartment is. It will still feel too big. Take, for example, the fridge. As a proud owner of a rented mini-fridge in McKeon, I quickly got into the habit of buying only those perishables that were necessary — such as the countless La Fermière mango yogurts I have a habit of stealthily consuming in the middle of the night (sorry, ex-roommates). 

I was not at all prepared for the giant that could contain the entire arctic tundra that came with my apartment. Upon staying over one depressingly cloudy weekend, my friend solemnly judged the state of my refrigerator. “I see you have fully transformed into your father,” she remarked. I hadn’t yet gone grocery shopping, and the only things it contained were a pack of sausages and two potatoes.

And don’t forget about the void you’ll feel in your heart and mind after having spent a semester (or more) in a building full of noisy college students. To me, the quiet now is bliss. No more upstairs neighbor who blasts Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at exactly the same time every day while you’re trying to brush your teeth in peace. No more roommates screaming at their gaming buddies over Twitch three hours before your 7-page essay was due. No more people having very personal conversations right in front of your door while you try to fall asleep. But sometimes, when I’m watching foreign movies at ungodly hours of the night and the only sounds I hear are my own breathing and the seductive murmur of the Ukrainian language, I truly feel like I’m on an asteroid far away from any conscious form of life. 

After you’ve dealt with all the struggles you can experience within your new apartment, it’s time to go outside and experience the final challenge: the commute. Now, I’m pretty lucky. I live on the Upper West, about 20 minutes away from Fordham on foot. 

Getting to class should be a breeze. Guess what? It’s not. You think it would be easy for you to get to class on time every single day because you’re punctual? Think again. A myriad of unexpected things can and will happen to cause your delay. The reasons I was late this semester range from wind so strong I turned into Mary Poppins to jumping away from a rat and into a man in a bathrobe who was walking his dog

If you’re scared of living alone now, you should be. However, the benefits might still outweigh your suffering in the first few months. I, for example, enjoy shower karaoke and writing while in curious positions at even curiouser times of day. No one but God is there to judge my strange poster taste anymore (please don’t send me to hell for this). And, of course, I now have more life experiences to make fun of.