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Thursday, March 31, 2011

My First Apartment: The Train

Throughout college I have roomed with Catherine (my cousin/BFF/basically my sister) all four years.  The first two years were spent on campus in two different dorms that were interesting in their own rights but didn't really give us the same sort of freedom as our first apartment.

Freedom that we totally didn't take advantage of, but freedom nonetheless.  

The search began with us and two other girls who decided they wanted to live with us because we are awesome.  The first apartment we found was luxurious, had its own gym and a beach enclosure.  But then one of the girls didn't want to sign the lease and she dropped out.

So then it was three.  Really, it was only the three of us from the beginning because that fourth girl never came to look at any of the apartments because she was studying abroad in Disney World.

Yes.  My school sends students to Disney World and calls it part of the study abroad program.  It's like they're not even trying to convince people this is a place where you can get a legitimate education.

Anyway, eventually we found apartments that had just been redone.  They were gorgeous with hardwood floors and high ceilings and a ton of room.  And split between three people?  The price was perfect.

That's when third girl dropped out and Catherine and I had to fend for ourselves.

There was an apartment complex five minutes from school.  We stopped there; picked up papers; dropped off papers; had our parents come see the place.  And we were in.  

We moved our stuff there in August and made a night of it.  I brought Arielle and Catherine brought her friend Tiff.

After unpacking, Catherine and Tiff went off to do girly things while Arielle and I took out our laptops and became despondent.

I can't remember if that is what actually happened, but it seems pretty likely considering Arielle and I retreat into our laptops like we're farming for gold.  (Which sometimes we are... tee hee!  I'm funny, dammit.)

So the apartment seemed pretty awesome at first and for some reason that first night I did not notice the train.

This train made me a partial insomniac for the better part of the first semester. 

The second night we stayed in the apartment (the night before our first day of classes as Juniors) I woke up in a violent panic because I was convinced a train was going to come through my window.

I guess I should tell you that I'm scared of wind.  I saw Twister when I was really young and it cemented my fear of all natural disasters and especially tornadoes.  I made the logical connection that wind makes tornadoes very early, and in New Jersey wind is a lot more common than tornadoes so my fears were much more easily realized.  So, if I am inside of a house and I hear terrifyingly loud gusts of wind my stomach silently churns and I become distracted by imminent doom.  During my time at the apartment, my fear was transferred from wind to trains.

Although, sometimes both occurred and I wanted to board myself up in the bathroom until the obvious danger was over.  

Our apartment was stationed about 400 feet away from the train tracks.  But, this is someone who has no idea what 400 feet of anything look like so this is basically how it went:

Our apartment was located around where I wrote the word "BRICK."  My bed faced the window.  Every night when the train went by I would literally jump out of bed.  What went through my head most of the time was this train is going to tear through this room and run me over.

This might not make any sense to you right now because you are completely lucid (I'm assuming).  But, to someone deprived of sleep, who has dreams filled with monster trains, the fact that it would rip through the window to destroy me seemed perfectly reasonable.  

The nightly terror of being crushed under the wheels of an incoming NJ Transit train become a regular event.  Lying there, staring up at the ceiling, hardly conscious of what was real and what wasn't I convinced myself that my life was about to end.  I even prepared for death in those final moments.  What I said to myself must not have been very comforting, because I still tried to use my covers to shield myself from sure destruction.   

The moment that confirmed my suspicions that I might have a serious problem was when I woke up in a cold sweat, threw my legs over the side of my bed and broke into an immediate sprint towards the bathroom.  I stopped dead before I found myself colliding with the door, but the damage to my psyche was done.  I couldn't get back to sleep and I might not ever again.    

I would forever be the girl who ran away from an imaginary killer train... more than once. 

This kind of psychological trauma wears on a person.  Especially when you look over and see your roommate sleeping soundly on her side of the room.


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