Moving in has always been a time of great stress for me. I over- think things, I pack and repack until my boxes and suitcases weep and beg for mercy, I have panic attacks over whether people are going to make fun of me for how much I bring.
I thought that, after first year, I would no longer suffer from these symptoms. I fancied myself a god of moving, one that wouldn’t be brought down by an overstuffed truck bed or a father turned grumpy after carrying one too many bags. However, I was wrong.
After waging the never- ending battle with my keys to unlock the finicky bolts that seem to exist to taunt me, only to open easily at the hands of the next pitying person to come along, I toppled into my new house.
Gasping for breath, I looked as if I had carried my suitcase through the Mojave Desert, instead of the ten steps it took from the car. The entrance was not graceful, not put- together. It looked like I was evading an angry mob, rather than happily opening the door into this next phase of life.
When we- myself and my current roommates- toured this house last winter, it was a disaster. There is no way around it. Supposedly five boys lived there, but you could have fooled us. It looked more like one of those abandoned cabins that you see on the news, one that the wolves had gotten to first and torn everything apart.
The walls were disheveled and dirty; the rooms were in chaotic disarray. However, with that overly- accepting way that people have when entering a new situation, we declared it perfect. I imagine that we each spent the summer envisioning how the house would have magically transformed into a livable environment by the time we got back.
In a way, it had. One of my roommate’s family worked tirelessly to clean the place up, to cover up the mysterious stains on the wall and set up air conditioners to get rid of years of accumulated boy- smell. It was when exploring the deeper recesses of the house that things got peculiar.
One could focus on the outhouse- style bathroom setup in the basement, with the toilet paper hanging from a string and the noticeable lack of door. Or, perhaps, the “glass garden” of broken bottles next to the porch, which also turned up what my father hypothesized was either a dead squirrel or an old toupee. However, my favorite area is the attic.
When I went upstairs to explore, I hoped to find a cute, open space, one that could perhaps use a chair and a table to read a book in with a cup of tea. I was already picking out the matching rug in my head and imagining all the great times we would have up there.
Instead, I was greeted by rusted nails jutting up randomly through the floor and rafters, bits of feathers and cloth sticking to some of them, floating in the eerie half- breeze. In one place, the floor ominously bends downwards in a questionably human- sized depression, threatening to give way the second some unlucky squirrel merrily trips across it. This area happens to be directly above my bed. In the corner, the chimney pipe is coated in a material that, in a certain light, bears an unfortunate resemblance to blood.
Jointly, we decided that the attic’s sole use would be as a haunted house at Halloween- we wouldn’t have to do anything to it, after all. I decided that I wouldn’t be taking my morning coffee up there anytime soon.
One could say all sorts of things about walking across the threshold into a new house, many of them cliché. You know, things about crossing into the next part of life or opening the door to the future, all that nonsense.
If one were to predict the events of this upcoming year by the way in which I entered the house, it would probably turn up a couple grimaces or further acts of pity. However, I think it sort of matched the house itself: not perfect, not graceful, but a haphazard, awkward leap into something completely unknown that will, no doubt, result in a good story or two at the end of it all. And, all in all, I think that’s a much better way to start anything.
Welcome back, U.Va. Let’s make this a year full of good stories.

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