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Life at the bottom

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, September 1, 2006

Bare light bulbs, unfinished walls and cold concrete floors. Typical things you would find in a basement.

It is the bottom of the building, the place in your house you were afraid to go by yourself when you were little. Some people might call a basement spooky. I call it my home.

This year I am living in the basement of my dorm, the result of an unfortunately low lottery number during room picks. The first, second, and third floors filled quickly last year, so I resigned myself to living in what is widely regarded as Pangborn’s least desirable room location.

During an introductory exercise on the first day of Spanish class, a classmate asked me what dorm I am in and what floor I live on.

“Cero,” I replied, since I have not spoken a word of Spanish all summer and could not remember how to say basement.

“The basement,” I said in English after he looked at me with a confused expression. Immediately a look of what can only be described as pity registered on his face.

“They have rooms down there?” he asked incredulously.

Rooms and much, much more. After only two weeks living in the basement, I am officially converted to a willing basement dweller. Climbing stairs to go to my room has become a thing of the past. The easy access to the laundry, the printer and the close proximity of my friends, the “Basewoment,” is marred only by the occasional blaring of the back door alarm when a fellow Phox breaks parietals or forgets, as I myself have in the past, the door alarm is always turned on at midnight.

This basement life is not new to me. Over the summer, I moved from the second floor bedroom I had lived in for six years to another room in the basement of my home.

My extensive basement dwelling experience allows me to identify certain pluses to lower level living. The temperature is cooler, it’s easier to move in and move out and there is a slight feeling of detachment from the other floors that can easily be misconstrued as living on your own.

Now, from my dorm room I can walk right outside and do homework in the sun at a picnic table in the courtyard. My DeBartolo commute is about two minutes shorter. And without a couple flights of stairs to lug my laundry basket up and down, I think I can get through the whole year without breaking it like I did last year.

When room picks start at the end of the year, even if I have a high lottery pick, I think I will choose to live in the basement again.

So, to my Spanish friend, don’t worry about my living situation. I may barely be above ground, but I still enjoy windows, plumbing, electricity and a room identical to every other room in the dorm.

If you need me, I’ll be in the sótano.