House(mates) & home

October brings with it many things: fall colours, midterms, Thanksgiving turkey and then the onslaught of graduate school applications. Over the past couple of weeks, while searching websites and guidebooks for the right program, it’s becoming ever more apparent that the academic world is bigger than the area bordered by Lake Ontario, West Campus and Johnson St.

Like many students thinking of moving beyond Queen’s little corner of the world come graduation, I’m excited by the possibilities a new city has to offer. But thoughts of moving don’t come without the knowledge that there are things I’ll miss when it comes time to leave them behind.

With dreams of living somewhere past the Walkhome boundaries comes the realization that my housemates most likely won’t be coming with me.

Remember the point in your childhood when you were first introduced to the idea of roommates? For me, it was summer camp: sharing a cabin with four other girls who I could make beaded bracelets and sing Kum Bay Ya with all through the night seemed just too good to be true.

Later, TV shows like Friends glamourized apartment existence. Rooming with friends was living the dream, complete with romance, pet ducks, trivia competitions and days spent lounging at the downstairs coffee shop.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to have housemates of my own.

But these days, as school gets busier and commitments pile up, my two housemates and I can barely find a time in the day when we’re all home and not rushing off to somewhere else. Passing each other bleary-eyed on our way from late shifts to early classes, it’s easy to let the obligations scrawled on our wall calendar take over and surrender the Friends dream to a more pressing need to keep up with the daily grind.

So we can’t linger in coffee shops or spend the nights wailing Kum Bay Ya into the streets of the student ghetto, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t steal a moment to appreciate the chance to live with friends.

I’ve heard many students and alumni call the housemate tradition a hallmark of their years at Queen’s. The opposite of a commuter school, Queen’s breeds a sense of community with multi-person housing that fringes the campus borders.

Not that we haven’t all heard the stories about crazy housemates. We’ve heard about them, and chances are, we’ve lived with them: anything from the idler who leaves teetering stacks of dirty dishes in the sink to the tyrannical terror who threatens to take legal action against you for your pet bird.

But by fourth year, once we’ve modified the housemate crop into a group we’re most compatible with, it’s easy to take living with good friends for granted.

Even though I hope my housemates and I will be all accepted into our school or travel plans of choice, living away from this new form of home will be bittersweet. Although moving on is inevitable, it’s tempting to call it all off in the interest of staying here in our Bagot St. hideout for a little while longer.

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