College boys and college towns~
My son, Max, elected not to come home after his freshman year and found a one bedroom apartment to rent while he hunted for a job and another place to live that would accommodate his friend, Dillon. It's been two months since school ended, and 'no job'. Max must be out of his apartment by Friday.
The frantic calls began while I was still in Colorado. He was disheartened by the job search, and even more frustrated by finding a "perfect" place only to be told the next day that it had been rented.
Max stumbled upon the only remaining two bedroom, one bath place to rent that was in walking distance of the college and local businesses. He called me. "Mom, can you come up and look at the place? It just needs some TLC". Andy and I drove up today.
This is where the honest inquiry within myself began~
The building was a dilapidated structure, and the inside was filthy, smokey, with vines growing inside the windows in the kitchen, and tenants who were "squatters". (But, the building is on the historic registry and cannot be torn down). It's hard to describe the sinking feeling I was experiencing while digesting the fact that this was the ONLY place left and my son had to be out of his current apartment by Friday!
The landlord assured me she would replace light fixtures, repair the holes in the walls, and shampoo the carpets. She said she would take a hundred dollars off the first month's rent if the boys would clean the place, and offered to buy all the paint if they wanted to roll on a fresh coat. I looked at my son and his friends and asked, "Are you game?" They were. Actually, Dillon said, "This will be a good experience for us."
"Yep," I said to myself, "until you are about 2 hours into the repairs, cleaning, painting and moving!"
I had to step back in time, thirty years ago, and remind myself that I did the same thing. Pressed for money, I left campus and found a tiny, one bedroom apartment, in an area that would not be described as the "best". I paid Steamy Barrett (yes, that was his name) a hundred dollars a month. I loved it! I had my independence. I found my furniture and knick-knacks at tag sales. I ate very little. And, I made ends meet. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that I could support myself.
I have no doubt my son and his friend will do the same. They will experience the thrill of "roughing" it, know what it means to work hard, and hopefully appreciate the value of a good education. I know the tenants in that building made an impression on them.
The message was loud and clear -- 'Under different circumstances, this could be you'.
"There but by the grace of God go I."