I have been living a lie. Well, living in a lie — or lie adjacent.
In May I moved to the 2300 block of Park Avenue, in what I thought was a positive life choice.
First, let me take you through what was the decision-making process for my living arrangements for the 2012-13 academic year.
After living in a four bedroom house my sophomore year, I got together with a friend and we both decided to try our hand at apartment living. We both figured living in an apartment would mean cheaper utilities, a cleaner space and overall healthier lifestyle choices.
We eventually found a place on 15th and Norris streets. It was a perfect distance from Main Campus and affordable, on what I considered the “good side” of Broad Street.
Unfortunately, for reasons I don’t want to relive, the place fell through at the very last minute in April. My roommate and I were forced to scramble, not knowing where to go, where to turn or what we should drink to help us in the mourning process.
We ended up finding a place on Park Avenue. It was large, affordable and close to Main Campus. The main draw was that our rent was going to be less than $500, each, a month. We signed the lease shortly after finding it and sealed our fate.
Disclaimer: It’s time for me to be vague now to protect parties implicated in this column and avoid a libel suit.
All I’m going to say is this: When you are scrambling to find a place to live anything affordable and attainable will seem like the Taj Mahal. You won’t notice the dirt on the blinds, the missing window screens, shower decay or the fact that the building has probably needed a major renovation for 20 years. As long as you aren’t stuck literally living in the TECH Center, anything will seem good.
You also won’t know if your future abode has, let’s say character-building creatures — because when you have to spend a good portion of your day killing bugs when you’re just trying to get to your Tuna Helper, you gain a new perspective on life.
Long story short, my roommate and I went a little crazy in our apartment and through the art of sweet talking and crying, we were able to break our lease early. While my roommate jumped ship a while ago I am stuck there for another 16 days.
Sixteen days. All I have to do is wait 16 days until I can pack my belongings in a U-Haul and put the nightmare that has been Park Avenue behind me.
Now, I know some hold those two blocks between Susquehanna Avenue and York Street somewhere near and dear to their heart, but I am not one of them.
Maybe to the freshmen who wander onto Park Avenue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after getting kegs turned away from them at frat parties, the idea of one day living five-or-less minutes from Crown Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Temple Star and Main Campus may seem like a dream come true. No.
I hate to burst the bubble of anyone putting Park on a pedestal, but for your health I urge you to only go there as a guest, not a resident.
Temple Star is such a luxury when you live more than three blocks away but when it’s literally always on your way home it’s as tempting as one of those sirens Odysseus had to avoid on his way home. A siren singing songs of pork fried rice, pizza rolls and sesame chicken. I’m weak — don’t look at me.
Then there’s Crown Fried Chicken. Oh Crown, if Temple Star is a siren, you are the serpent from the Garden of Eden. I went my first two years of college free of Crown Fried Chicken, then I moved to Park Avenue and it was all over for me.
If any of you are looking for ways to trap me all you have to do is put fried chicken, mozzarella sticks and a biscuit from Crown Fried Chicken in a cage — or windowless van — and you’ve got yourself a limited edition Luis. Much easier than catching a Pokémon, I promise you that.
We’re not even going to get into McDonalds being so close to my home, but if you want a visual, just imagine the final scenes of “Titanic” where people are running and fighting to get on a lifeboat. That’s 2 a.m. at McDonald’s.
Moving away from local cuisine, let’s consider the nightlife. As mentioned earlier, Park Avenue is the Ellis Island of party hopping. There should be a historical marker that reads: “Give us your thirsty, your poor, your huddled masses…” If you need a party, you will more often than not find one.
My first time partying at Park was the summer after my freshman year and all I can say is there were mattresses where there were supposed to be stairs and there was free beer for everyone — well, we assumed it was free.
My second time was this semester. I was excited because all of my friends live west of Broad Street and, for the first time, I would be the closest one to home, avoiding all food temptations.
Well, there was a keg that was difficult to partake in because I’m not anyone’s bro and there were so many people there that I think I was technically deflowered at least three times that night, just trying to get from one room to another.
It’s OK, I got tested — and prayed.
This was also the first time in my college career that I was at a party that had the misfortune of getting busted by the police. But I was already 21 at the time, so all the thrill of running away was gone. Then I ended up on a couch on 19th and Oxford streets with Temple Star in my belly. Like I said, I’m weak. Judge me.
I’d mention the times I stayed in on weekends to get work done, but putting myself in the position those long nights of hearing dubstep and people breaking bottles would put me in a post-traumatic stress disorder episode.
In the end, I would like to thank Park Avenue for the one thing it did give me: a voyeuristic look into what it’s like to live among the world of ragers and keggers. My freshman year I made friends with upperclassmen who took me and my friends under their wing and taught us the beauty of BYOB. I know it’s odd for some of you to imagine, but there is a world out there where people find their own adult beverages and bring them to parties.
This isn’t to say there’s a wrong way to party, but Park Avenue moves at a pace I just can’t keep up with. For the next 16 days I’ll embrace it from a distance.
What I’m really trying to say, Park Avenue, is that it’s not you. It’s me.
Luis Fernando Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.