What it's like to move back into your old college house as a post-grad
It’s been five years since I graduated from college and moved out of my quirky Northern California college town. I experienced many feelings as a post-grad: happiness, worry, anxiety — and the overall sense that I had no clue what I was going to do with my life. In the years following, I’ve had life-changing moments. I’ve reevaluated relationships and grown in tremendous ways.
For three years, we lived together in two distinctly unique houses — both of which were likely not build to code. As questionable as the condition of the houses may have been, we had no doubts about living together — so much so that we created our own faux sorority, an alternative sisterhood of sorts.
In our two different homes, we hosted many a Friendsgiving and Halloween. We threw countless birthday parties and lots of low-key hang seshes. We looked to each other for advice, and helped each other get through the general chaos that was college. Though we stayed close following graduation via Facebook and group texts, it just wasn’t the same. This all changed when I had one of the most surreal moments of my more recent life.
This spring, I got a new job in my college town. I was excited and nervous but ready to make the move back to the place that had been my second home.
Honestly, if those walls could talk.
There it was on Craigslist, of all places, as a summer sublet. At first I thought it was a joke. And then it seemed like a sign. I immediately sent it to my old college roommate who encouraged me to reply to the posting.
I’d initially written it off as an option for a place to live. “How crazy would I be if I lived here again? Who even does that?” I thought to myself. Clearly, someone deeply rooted in the past. But after pondering the idea for a while, I decided to consider it as a serious option. I crafted a message, replied to the post, received a response within an hour.
I spoke on the phone with the landlord, who was both amused and confused that I’d decided to move back in for the summer:
If nothing else, I knew that this would be a good transition as I embarked on my new career adventure.
As I approached the front door, I was greeted with piles and piles of mail stuffed in the mailbox, some of which was addressed to my former roommates. I was slightly surprised, but then remembered that this was, in fact, a typical college house where everything was a little off.
I recognized every noise I heard — from the neighbors playing beer pong into the wee hours of the morning, to the homeless man singing outside. It was comforting and jarring at the same time. I had attached recollections to nearly every noise and sight in the neighborhood — the notorious rooftop deck where we had so many dinner parties, the streets we’d walk down in the middle of the night, the paper thin walls that made us feel like everyone in the house was together in the same room.
One wasn’t better than the other — our lives were just different. On the night before my first day of work, she told me “Just be yourself and ask a lot of questions!” I immediately laughed it off but she was right. Maybe it was as simple as that.
At times, I had to remind myself that there was an entire world to explore outside of my college bubble. I didn’t need to go to the same coffee shop around the corner — there were lattes being served beyond a 5-minute walk. I had been so conditioned to do the same thing, day-after-day that I had to break free.
Though I loved living in nostalgia, I could only re-meet so many neighborhood cats. It was almost like living in a twisted fantasy.
Those four years were precious on their own because I was a different person having experiences that I’ll never have again. Looking back on my college self, I see someone who was both naïve and fearless, always ready for the next thing. And after reliving parts of 2007-2011, I can say with full confidence that my next chapter doesn’t involve paper thin walls or Tuesday night beer pong tournaments — but I still appreciate the sentiment.