I used to be one of you. I used to tread these hallowed halls in an academic gown, and ugg boots or thongs, weather dependent. I used to ask Deepak for extra sweet corn. I used to banter with Abdul, leave brunch with scones in my pockets, and burn cheese in the grill. I used to proudly wear my bumblebee at rugby matches and my pyjamas at breakfast.
Times have changed though. I haven’t worn an academic gown since October. I haven’t had scones for months. The other day, visiting friends, I made eye contact with Abdul. He looked straight past me.
I think that in time my broken heart will heal.
I have swapped it all for something else. Something different and kind of special. It has a front door and corridors without plates caked in baked beans that nearly reach the ceiling. It’s got a bathroom you can dry your hands in and a kitchen that is open all hours. It even has a table I built myself: I’ve become pretty handy with an Allen key recently.
We had a mouse for a bit – Cotton Eyed Joe (Where did he come from? Where did he go?) – but we got rid of him through an intensive attack and defence regime (we had to, he wasn’t paying rent). He was, however, our mouse. Not a member of Ormond’s creepy ninja mouse collective, but ours. Yes, we’ve got a substantial damp problem in our ceiling, but it’s our damp. The patch in my room is called Murray. Yes, rent’s expensive. Yes, our oven also makes a strange noise, but our house has internet that is pretty darn reliable. There’s also no need to lock your bedroom door when you step out for the day.
The dynamic of living in a sharehouse is different to a residential college. For example, when you see your friends, it’s because you’ve set it up and everyone is keen, rather than “Oh, you’re weeing right now? Me too.” There’s no strange guilt about not being sociable on a Saturday night; no sounds of people pre-drinking and socialising around you to make you feel weird about watching Masterchef on the couch in your pyjamas. It’s also much easier to have friends over when you have seats for them to sit on. I made dinner for a friend of mine the other day and it was bloody classy.
I’d like to stress that the years I spent at Ormond are, and always will be, hugely important to me. They helped me in ways I don’t have names for yet, in ways that maybe I don’t yet understand. I have spoken to, and made friends with, people whose paths I might not have crossed had I made different choices at the end of Grade 12. I’d like to think that as a result of these conversations that my worldview has evolved significantly, and that while I may not yet understand everything that makes up the fabric of this world, I can see it a little clearer.
I made friends there that are irreplaceable. On my very first evening, Paint Party 2011, I met people who would become my closest friends. My first memory of my housemate Sharni is of her knowing all the words to ‘Party In The USA’ and saying the word ‘circulate’ a lot. My first memory of my other housemate Kim is of a paint streaked grin and a lot of noise. I shudder to think what their initial impressions of me were… probably of a pale Tasmanian looking generally concerned in a pretty awful cardigan.
These are the years that begin to shape you. Love Ormond, as I did. But when it’s time to let it go, be it after one year or two, undergrad or postgrad, let it go easily. Think of it as a halfway house, one in between living at home and moving out. Remember that halfway houses are not supposed to be forever, so don’t be sad about letting it go and look forward to the next stage of your life. Look forward to learning new things about the world, even if they’re only as thrilling as understanding how an electricity bill works.
Living in a sharehouse may not be for everyone, but it is something I would highly recommend. Be prepared for your relationship with friends to evolve. I caught up with a friend who had also moved out; we had wine in glasses, not mugs, and we talked about the future, and not about whether or not we would be going to Turf. And that’s okay. Maybe that’s right.
Live long and prosper.