Suck It, Housing Lottery

Take the envelope, Patrick,” my blockmate urged me. As if still frozen from the previous night’s chilly River Run, I

Take the envelope, Patrick,” my blockmate urged me.

As if still frozen from the previous night’s chilly River Run, I remained motionless and stared blankly at two over-eager gentlemen, clad in Pforzheimer gear. I was unable to take the envelope. They gently placed the death notice in my blockmate’s outstretched hand and assured us that everything would turn out well as the door closed.

I whipped an already-beat Top-Sider at my poster-clad Pennypacker wall. After a year of scabies, long walks to Annenberg, and gazing at a parking-lot vista from my common room window, the prospect of river views and convenient access to the Square was tantalizing. The Union dormite-to-Quadling story is equivalent to a rags-to-new-rags tale.

Friends who had been placed in a dumpy river House insisted I was welcome to move in with them. They jest, I thought. Inspired by the likes of Oprah and the Pope, I spent the summer contemplating the positives of Quaddage. I recalled my tour of Pforzheimer House on that fateful March day.

Everyone in PfoHo did seem quite happy about their unfortunate circumstances. I’d never seen such happy people before—except for people on drugs. And like people on drugs, these citizens of PfoHo made grand promises. 210 square foot singles. Perpetual ragers in the “Belltower.” Many mirrors lining the hallway walls. I like looking at myself, I thought. Maybe things could be bearable.

Then came rooming assignments.

Some sort of technology glitch must have occurred, for my roommate and I were given two adjacent cupboards under the pretense of a double. And the view from the cramped quarters inspired nothing but nostalgia in me—another year to be spent looking out on pavement and fading skid marks.

Rereading the interhouse transfer policy for the umpteenth time, I accepted the fact that PfoHo was my unchangeable fate for a predetermined period. Nine months, in fact. Like the baby daddy of a pregnant Catholic schoolgirl, I had to stay with the carrier of my pfetus until I could find another woman.

Yet I needed a little loving myself during this awkward time. Like many a baby daddy, I started seeing someone else to take my mind off PfoHo.

Her name was Dunster. Surprising to some, I became smitten with a cockroach-riddled dame who is far more beautiful on the outside than on the inside. But it wasn’t the physical building that drew me; it was the people.

To be honest, the affair began the same day I moved to the Quad. After an evening of bacchanalian revelry with my Meese friends, I jaunted to Dunster and slept in a makeshift bed on the suite’s floor. This recurred the next two nights.

Soon I was like a crossbreed of a bag lady and walk-of-shamer. Every other day or so, I would trudge back to the Quad with a gym bag stuffed full of laundry, returning with a fresh supply of duds, contact lenses, and the like. Yet the delight of arriving back “home” to Dunster overshadowed any inconvenience of vagabonding.

Still, a more permanent solution seemed necessary.

Days after my official PfoHo move-in, a second move-in commenced. Armed with a single Harvard Mail Service dolly, two of my adoptive Dunster “blockmates” and I rolled my six-foot-long black pleather Chesterfield-esque foldout couch to my new home.

With such a wide load, we literally took to the streets, navigating Brattle and Mt. Auburn Streets amidst honking cars and gaping pedestrians. I loved being a spectacle, pushing this symbol of permanence to my friends’ digs. This sofa would be my bed for the next nine months.

The move-in continued gradually. Late weekend nights in the Quad became an excuse to lug my speakers, a box of ties, or my worn Hillary Clinton poster to my new room. These new roomies didn’t merely let me store my junk in the ready-to-burst walk through. My personal memorabilia joined theirs on the wall, in this room I now referred to as “our room.”

Indeed, Dunster became my adoptive house. House residents largely forgot my status as a squatter. Once my roommate secured me a room key, so did I.

Yes, PfoHo tried to win my love back with subtle interventions staged by various individuals, and my parents questioned my sanity (and that of my foster blockmates). But the Dunster community’s magnetism provided too strong of a pull towards the Charles. Plus, my ID magically swipes into all Dunster entryways after midnight. This isn’t supposed to happen.

Next fall, I will officially be a Moose. Yet my reputation as Dunster’s gypsy (or creeper to some) will likely stick. Sure, I’ll no longer need to take naps in Lamont while waiting for a roommate to unlock the suite door. And a dresser will certainly be a welcome replacement to the current system of placing my wardrobe in various cubbies throughout the room.

But I chose to be a roving nomad for a year because I couldn’t find what I needed elsewhere: my peeps.

—D. Patrick Knoth ’11 is a History and Literature concentrator In Pforzheimer Dunster House. He still rocks baglady chic.