I slept on the couch of my son's house. Not for the first time, but maybe for the last. He will soon be graduating from college, and the future will provide him with a new place to live. The potential for more couches still exist, but they most likely be shared with a group of college students with different majors, backgrounds and circumstances. The next couch could be in the place where he lives by himself. That would be brand new.
This caused me to reflect on the houses and apartments in which I lived after leaving my parents' house so many years ago. Initially, there was the requisite dorm room with a single bed. My roommate chose to live up in the loft, the roommate assigned to me by campus housing. In the room that was assigned to me by campus housing. I fled the next year.
Landing in my hometown again and being in my second year of undergraduate studies, I found a townhouse where the kind of hard-drinking heroics I was becoming familiar with could take place. I brought a roommate to this place, and we put out an ad for two more. We got lucky on one, and took a Mulligan on the second once he moved out after the first couple months. We walked on the supplied furniture and I learned to make Hamburger Helper in the kitchen. In June, the gang split up and I headed down the hill to a one bedroom where I could be alone.
But not for long. A co-worker of mine from Arby's took up residence in that place, and after a brief negotiation, we made the crash into a shared living arrangement. This was an apartment small enough that the fun often spilled out onto the street. Sometimes from the fourth floor balcony as we asked arriving guests to play "If You Catch It, You Can Keep It." This was also part of our strategy when it came time to move across the street, joining forces once again with our friend from Muskogee. We tossed a great many of our belongings to the ground below, and then hustled them across the street, into yet another furnished apartment.
Where we walked on the furniture. And played the stereo loud. And behaved as we had honed our skills to be animals who drank and drugged and oh by the way went to school and had part time jobs. It was a delicate balance that eventually spilled out into disaster. Three of us moved in. Only two moved out.
I returned to a one bedroom. This time I was on the south end of town. My place was no longer party central. It was another furnished bunker where I lived by myself.. No additional distractions to keep me from my appointed destination: graduation. When I needed debauchery, I had to travel across town. It was on one such adventure that I tore up my knee, necessitating a recovery period that kept me from going to the two classes of summer semester that would have pushed me out into the world a few months earlier. Instead, I spent the summer rehabbing my broken joint and putting off the inevitable. It came six months later, and I walked to campus carrying my robe. When the ceremony was over, we gathered at my parents' house. Full circle, one might say, but I still had more apartments in my future. The ones where I was a grownup.
Or at least that's what I told myself.