Photo Essay by Gracie Alvarez
My first apartment in college symbolized independence, freedom, adulthood, and responsibility. But more days than not, it more realistically resembled a sort of 20-year-old-girls meets frat-house aesthetic. Four girls, a few of them randomly paired with the others, and a cat take on a 12 month lease in the center of a college town.
After nearly a year, it is time to pack up and move out. This photo series exemplifies the unique experience of being young, dumb, and living on your own for the first time.
One night as we were packing up, a roommate mentioned it might be time to empty out the decorated jar that lived on our kitchen counter. This was all that was left; one dollar and some change.
My apartment housed a lot of chaotic personalities. From the start of our time there, we decided to put a system into place to keep each other from making bad decisions. Any action that fell into the category of “dumb bitch shit” would result in a fine that would be paid to the jar. The jar was, fittingly, created from an empty vodka handle. The money raised by our actions went towards more alcohol. Ironically, this tended to lead to more money in the jar.
I had high hopes when first moving into my apartment about my ability to keep plants alive. I think it’s a millennial thing; the idyllic living space is punctuated with an endless amount of green plants. It’s all over Youtube, Instagram, VSCO. I had managed to secure a job at a shop that sold all kinds of houseplants and they seemed easy enough to take care of. I think we started with five plants spread around our living room and kitchen. Now, as we move out, only two remain. One, though alive, is growing sideways and seems to barely be holding on. The other is proof of the failed attempt at resuscitating a lost cause. Our only surviving plant is still up for grabs. Nobody has stepped up to take it with them when we move out.
The iconic college apartment decoration; empty liquor bottles above the cabinets. We’ve been steadily taking a few bottles down to recycling every week but have yet to reach the end. Trashy as it may be, a lot of them hold special memories to us. The first bottle we went through as new roommates, awkward and unfamiliar. The extra large wine bottles we shared while going through various relationship troubles. The champagne bottles we used for mimosas to celebrate football games and homecoming. It’s a bittersweet thing to throw them out gradually; the emptier the shelf gets, the closer it is to move-out day.
And lastly, the huge, ugly blanket fort that has taken over our living room. It’s been here for a few days and at any point of the day at least one roommate can be found inside it amongst the blankets and pillows. There’s been an exponential increase in movie nights and TV show binges as of late. It’s nostalgic, knowing this is the last time we will all live together. Everyone is going separate ways next year, all with different housing plans. Until then, we’re going to spend as much time as we can together.
People always remember their first apartment in college. It’s a huge step away from living in dorms with RA’s watching your every move. It’s your first real, serious step towards adulthood and making it on your own. My apartment simultaneously had my best and worst college memories and was the epicenter for many parties, late night conversations, study sessions, smoke sessions, snow days, an alarming number of crazy one-night stands between four girls living there.
Gracie Alvarez is a Low Caliber co-founder. She is currently studying journalism and political science. In her free time, Gracie can be found curating flower arrangements or finding the best spots to have a good time. You can track her adventures on her Instagram @grace.alv