Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Patrick Inside Space/Place Essay

“Why the F**K is it so cold?” I ask to an empty room, shivering profusely as I approach the thermostat in the living to check the temperature after waking up for class in the morning. My roommates had not yet awoken in the igloo that was our house.

It was a cold December morning at my house off Bearfield in Columbia, Missouri when I had woken up to a, at most, 45 degree house although the thermostat needle didn’t even go low enough to tell the temperature and a broke heater. But hey, at least I didn’t have to worry about the ants that had invaded our kitchen for the previous 2 months. Looking back on it, perhaps my optimistic, sarcastic personality might have said that to my roommates. But at this time, waking up in a house nearly cold enough to freeze the cup of water next to my bed may have been the worst morning over the course of the year I spent living in my first house away from home in St. Louis.

It was July 28 and I had survived a year with two other roommates in our own house without parents. The house as empty as when I first moved in (perhaps more empty after breaking a few chandeliers) and I thought back on all the events that had transpired in just 365 days. I kept thinking of memories, kept tugging for emotion, and awaiting a feeling that never came. I thought back to the “Friends” series finale on how emotional they got when they had to move out of their apartment. Granted that was “10 years” and television, but I waited for that sense of sadness.

It never came.

“Places” should extract emotion, right? A home should be considered a place, right? So why could I not find one ounce of emotion, or sadness for moving away? I mean, I even called it my place.

“Hey, do you guys just wanna come over to my place and play beer pong before the party?”
So perhaps not the same idea, but saying “Do you wanna come over to my “space” …” probably would not have gotten me the same response, but merely strange looks and a “WTF are you talking about?”

I digress. Nevertheless, 3520 Marquis Court, my first house away from parents was no place at all but simply a space for three college fraternity guys. A space for openness to be who they want to be, freedom from parents, freedom to act how they want to act. The actual location, structure of building, pictures on the wall meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. I had little emotional attachment to this house; it was just the first to give me an opportunity at freedom.
The ultimate question I ask myself to determine a space from a place, what does it consist of, what am I attracted to? If the answer involves “things” or items rather than the structure, view, or landscape, than how can that be a place? Am I truly attracted to the structure, emotionally attached to the building, or is it the things in the building? When the walls are stripped, the carpets cleaned and shampooed, the furniture moved on to the U-Haul, what do I see?

Before answering, I look around my room at my current house. Everything’s the same just moved around, my bedroom looks the same, so maybe that’s the “place.” But thinking back to the empty house I most recently moved out of, I saw flashbacks of memories, good and bad. I saw a house located in a good part of Columbia, but also located next to a trailer park. A house located on the same street that had three break-ins over Mizzou’s winter break last year.
Maybe some people consider memories and nostalgic feelings enough to make a house their “place.” Those same people might not have spent an entire essay talking about a house they lived in and not once mentioning it as their home. And again, perhaps that’s why I felt little emotion when I looked at my bare walled house on Marquis Court one last time.

3520 Marquis Ct., Columbia, MO. 65201, it took me a while to memorize the address (about 2 months and 10 pizzas ordered to the address), now it’s just a memory. When my dad came down to Columbia to move me out, he lifted up my marble coffee table and noticed a wheel missing on the bottom, stains from alcohol and who knows what on top, and told me it looked like the table had been through Hell. Then he looked to my mom and said something along the lines of, “If this table could talk, I bet it’d tell quite a story.”

As soon as we moved the table, I thought back to the party that got out of hand ending with a fight and a hole in my kitchen wall. The half drank beer ball my roommate bought over spring break in Panama City and the broken garbage disposal from a shot glass unknowingly falling down the sink. None of these memories could have come without the freedom of my own “space.”

Several people talk of their home away from home. I have never really agreed with that statement. Growing up in St. Louis, I never seemed to fit in with the St. Louis mentality, it never seemed like a home no matter how great my family was or the house I lived in. In Columbia, Missouri I don’t know that I have found that idea of a home yet either. But someday, some house will feel like a home. That day, and only that day will I then consider a house my “place.” For now, I still count on those stories from my “space” about why I’m good at fixing holes in dry wall, half-kegs are a little too big for two people on a Wednesday night and training on your 20th birthday for the 21 shots on your 21st is a questionable decision. And if I ever want to remember more stories, I still have that marble coffee table.

***AS for pictures or video, I didn't really have any good pictures of the place except from parties, and I don't live there anymore so I couldn't record any video.***

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