Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Room of My Own

Even though it's completely declasse to talk about money, can I just maybe allude to the fact that having a non-full-time job in your twenties, with things like rent and groceries and phone bills lighting up like neon in your braincase, is not the delightfulness I was envisioning?

When I was a kid, memorizing Archie comics and ignoring my sister, I stumbled upon this one Veronica story that was entitled "THE GROOVY PAD" or something to that effect. I was a) eight years old in 1991 and b) had no concept of a "pad" being something you live in, rather than something menstrual and therefore discomfiting to the max. (This dated-slang phenomenon also perplexed the hell out of me when I read The Hardy Boys, who were always shouting "good night!" when it seemed like they were going to bite it. Confusing? You bet.)

THE GROOVY PAD was a story set in (when else?) the 1970s, starring 16-year-old Veronica as the spoiled rich girl who got her very own apartment. It was full of period details like burnt-orange shag carpeting and whorish purple eyeshadow that just impressed the hell out of me. Obviously, when she went to bed, the GROOVY PAD turned out to be in some improbably seedy part of Riverdale: smoking (!) men in trench coats and gusting wind equaling "you will get raped," clearly.

But, like, awesome? Her own place? All the whorish purple eye makeup she can shoplift (not that Veronica Lodge needed to, but it seemed like she would - the whole narrative had an huge undercurrent of seediness and trashiness)? It seemed like the glammest thing in the whole world, a total extension of the this-is-my-treehouse vibe little kids confer on basically every space they can.

I remember childhood as a hugely public affair. I am still basically an introvert at heart, so to spend eight hours a day with kids - most of whom I didn't like/was afraid of/wanted desperately to be accepted by - and then go home to my family, where the person closest in age was my terrible sister (oh, don't worry, we're friends now), was massively stressful. My parents, who were saddled with this stressed-out nine-year-old, were probably kind of mystified. I felt exposed all the time. All I wanted to do was hide: I read a lot, ignored 85% of the normal growing-up socializing, and made forts out of every space smaller than 25 square feet.

You can imagine the type of lightbulb-over-head moment THE GROOVY PAD inspired. A whole apartment...for me?! What's weird is that I didn't just march into the post-highschool world and get my own GROOVY PAD. No, first, I lived in residence. Then I lived with fifteen housemates. Then I got my own place.

I'll tell the (terrible) residence and (for all intents and purposes, very fun) fifteen-housemates stories some other time. For now, I'll just mention that living with people is much less expensive than living alone. It's strange: you trade one psychic burden (people-stress) for another (money-stress) when you decide to swap out living arrangements. I, for one, like it both ways: it's really nice coming home to someone. On the other hand, it's really nice to cook dinner in you GROOVY PAD wearing nothing but whorish purple eyeshadow. It's all about choices, you know?

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