Girl About Campus: My year in Roo Commons

Written by: Helen Dauka

I was in love with Roo Commons. It was the first time I’d ever lived off campus. I was five minutes away from campus, two minutes away from McDonald’s, and oh-so close to the bars on Exchange. Life was going to be good.

Aside from location, Roo Commons had great referrals from my friends. And anything was better (and cheaper) than living in the dorms. I was going to decorate for every season and cook dinner, because I’d finally have a fridge big enough to hold more than apples and a quart of milk.

By my first weekend in Roo Commons, my neighbor from the second floor had made it clear that I wouldn’t be borrowing a cup of flour from him anytime, ever. He was pacing around drunk one night, yelling aggressively, so I told him, “Calm down!” And then he spit on me.

One weekend, I came home and saw a beer bottle smashed on my windowsill. Other things tossed from the second floor to the courtyard included a bag of flour, a traffic cone and a recliner.

Always a surprise!

Maybe my vision was clouded by all the possibilities and potential I saw in my new apartment. Maybe I was only seeing what I wanted to see, projecting all my hopes and dreams onto this apartment.

Regardless, I was blind to everything bad about my apartment. I was living on Sumner Street. Robberies in off  campus housing happen all the time. Why did I think my apartment would exist in a bubble?

One night, I had friends staying with me. We all crammed into my bedroom at night, shut the door, and went to bed. Before I fell asleep, I could hear a group of girls giggling, but I blamed it on the thin walls and my loud neighbors. When I woke up, my laptop was gone.

My friend had heard the giggling girls too, and had thought it was my roommate coming home from work with friends. That wasn’t possible, because my roommate didn’t have friends other than me, and she was staying at her boyfriend’s place that night anyway.

After an hour of searching, I had to accept it: Someone had been in my apartment. And someone had stolen my laptop.

Whenever I heard about robberies, it only made me worry a little. Those were things that happen to other people, but not to me. I have a new laptop now. I never leave it anywhere, not even for a minute. I don’t even feel comfortable leaving it in my car, even when my car’s locked.

That’s what happens when you get something stolen from you. They don’t just steal your possessions, they steal your naivety and your trust, and they make you believe a little less.

I will always second-guess whether I locked my doors. I am the cautionary tale that I used to not take very seriously.

– Girl About Campus