University Kid ~ 1st Year Away From Home ~ Lesson #1

My son learned some important lessons in life last week.  We drove 7 hours from Los Angeles to UC Berkeley for orientation.  Then we spent 3 days looking for his first apartment.  He had 3 roomies lined up (none of whom were with us).  I can’t tell you how many apartments we looked at, that everyone could afford.

I knew it was going to be tricky:  I would have to put down the deposit.  We would have to fax the applications to the roomies.  They would have to fax their applications back immediately.

We finally found an apartment everybody could afford.  It was late in the day, so I couldn’t get the paperwork from the rental company until the next day.  We checked out of the hotel the next morning, drove over to the rental office with deposit check in hand.  The door was locked.  I called the office.  Sheepishly, the agent I had been working with told me that, when he assured me the apartment, another agent had already leased it and had not plugged it into the system yet.

I got steamed, but understand how something like this can happen.  My young son did not understand, and went thermonuclear.  He was also getting very sick.  We drove the 7 hours back home (there was absolutely nothing else I could find that everybody could afford).  My thinking is:  We go home.  Kid goes to the doctor.  Something new will be listed.  I can jettison the roommates (who are now become big pains) and find something just for him.  These were my goals:  Get my kid to the doctor, and get a place for HIM to live.

Here’s the funny thing:  I told him that things happen for a reason.  Told him that we would probably find something even better.  Told him that life is what happens when you’re making other plans (thank you John Lennon), and you just have to take a deep breath and go to Plan B.  He would have none of it.  I’m a clueless, naive woman!  (A 20 year old speaking to a 55 year old mother.)

Got him home, to the doctor, plunked him in bed.  New rentals came online.  Drove back to Berkeley by myself.

LO AND BEHOLD:  Clueless, 55 year old mother was right!

Rented him a new, fully furnished apartment, in a 5 bedroom townhouse, with only male Berkeley students.  For $599 a month, he gets:  a private bedroom with double bed and desk, shared bathroom with 1 guy, secured building, secured parking for car & bicycle, all utilities included, free cable TV, free secured wireless internet, washer & dryer inside the townhouse, step out of the building & take a 5 minute bus ride into campus (free), in a very safe and groovy part of Berkeley.

No walking 3 blocks in an iffy neighborhood to catch the bus.  No hasseling with setting up utility, cable, and internet accounts.  No renting a U-Haul truck, hauling furniture, finding people to help us negotiate into his 3rd floor apartment.  No dealing with 3 roommates.  They can figure out their own deal in this same building.

AT THE END OF THE DAY:  My son apologized to me for the yelling.  My son also told me that I was right about life throwing you a curveball, and how you have to deal with it.  He learned that you can’t deal with those curveballs when you are being scared, angry, emotional. 

I thought he learned that lesson 2 years ago when my husband (his father) suddenly passed away and we had to deal with a lot of things we weren’t planning on.  I hope he has learned it now.

I leased him a single bedroom in a 5 bedroom townhouse at Campanile Court.  Google it.  They tell me they have buildings like this near a lot of universities around the country.


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