Freshman year was a simpler time. Your room was the size of a closet, heat was free and, most importantly, Mom and Dad couldn’t yell at you to pick up your shit. Liberating, truly, and you were happy in your glorified pigsty. But every so often you’d waltz into the room down the hall, the one with the neat-freak pair of roommates with matching comforters and a flat screen TV who had yet to see a mouse scamper across their sparkling clean floor, and you’d wonder if you were going about it all wrong. But then again, you were the norm and those kind of people were rare. And let’s face it, they weren’t that cool.
Then, for those who ventured off campus sophomore year, a greater disparity emerged. Walking into a Walnut Street house last semester, I was floored by the expensive décor, the polished light fixtures, the dish-less sink. It made my cluttered old apartment seem a little less “cozy.” Then, days later, I made my way into a house a couple of blocks over, where containers of half-eaten take-out and overturned Natty Lights littered the floor, egg-crusted frying pans were rusting in the sink and the whole concept of “cleaning up” clashed with the dominant “we’ll do it later” kind of mentality.
I know some of these boys (and girls) who choose to live a less-than-sanitary existence and I’ve been to their parents’ houses back home. They certainly didn’t grow up with cockroaches lurking around every corner and mold growing on their bathmats, nor do they seem to enjoy a less-than-spotless kitchen atmosphere. So why is it okay now? What is it about college that makes a sloppy lifestyle acceptable for some and not others? Surely, no one prefers to live that way.
And then I realize. You can give credit for cleanliness to the chore wheel if you’d like, or attribute the untidiness of some houses to the lethargy of their inhabitants, but you’d be forgetting one tiny thing. No matter how much we try to fight it, we’re all still a bunch of children. We lean on our parents to refill our checking accounts, we cry to them when our phones fall into the toilet and we still haven’t figured out how to completely take care of ourselves, let alone clean up after ourselves, without the safety net they provide. That’s the beauty of college — we don’t have to. And as for those of you with the perfectly dirt free off-campus living spaces, yeah, we got the flyer for the cleaning service too. We just spent the money on booze instead.