Take Me Back, Student Housing

Alex Katz

Nine months ago, I packed my bags and moved out of NYU’s Carlyle Court on Union Square. Rebellious fancies concerning my departure and starry-eyed dreams of a cool new apartment, my first in this happening town, coursed through my brain. All these thoughts turned out to be entirely misplaced, and leaving student housing may have been the biggest mistake I, or anyone else in history, has ever made. Take me back, Carlyle, please; I should’ve never left you. My new room has been a nightmare from the beginning. Some may understand what’s to come, having survived similar torture themselves, but all others, heed my warning: never, under any circumstances, live on St. Marks Place. You might lose your sanity entirely—mine dwindles already.

My roommates and I found the place last summer, but I didn’t move in until this semester. I was away from school last fall, so of course the dirty gremlins I live with, my former friends, snatched up the better rooms. My microscopic room overlooks the street, and it’s loud out there at all hours. And there are no curtains or air-conditioning. And it smells.

Drunks puke on the sidewalk outside my door, between loud babbling and raving, screaming and crying. Fratboys holler cultural appropriations at each other and then slap five, the crack of their palms sounding for hours. Cars honk for no reason, and not in typical New York fashion either; there are at least seven honks per second. The drivers scream out their windows at each other, then break their windows in anger with hatchets, as I hear it. Garbage trucks come at the weirdest time and beep incessantly, as if to punish those of us who should’ve recycled. My fickle heater is either broken or supernatural; it bakes me alive or chills my bones, or somehow both at the same time. I wake up nightly from my chattering teeth just to find sweat pooling around my body. “Get me out of here!” I scream post-awakening, “Deliver me, Lord! I beg you!” But He only turns the heat up further, and if I ever do fall asleep, fever dreams wait for me.

I remember my glorious Carlyle suite. Sure, I was a twin-bed arm’s reach away from my roommate. Sure, I had suite-mates who smelled, never cleaned the bathroom, and one who even left piles of his dirty laundry in the kitchen for some reason. Sure, that particular dorm doesn’t even have a dining hall. But I miss it all the same, like an ex or a widow. I lost my building and can never have her back again. I didn’t appreciate her, and now her doors are closed. No pillow waits for me there. Now, there is only St. Marks—the street of the beast.

So if you’re searching for a piercing or a bong, St. Marks is there for you. But don’t stay too long… or it might swallow you whole.


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