Monday, March 22, 2010

the fishbowl

Soon after we married, dh and I moved into the super-cheap, cinder block, all-utilities paid on-campus "married housing". (My guess is BYU is the only university with what amounts to married dorms. That's a topic for another day.) The apartment was quite small and the walls dripped condensation in the winter. But it was close to campus and so CHEAP. We were happy to be there.

There were four buildings on our "quad" (hence the name) and they all faced in, with a greenbelt and tiny playground (again, only at BYU) in the middle. I felt this layout would lend itself well to impromptu BBQ dinners and someone pulling out their guitar to play "Edelweiss." Needless to say, we avoided the greenbelt.

I often thought of that quad as a sort of fishbowl for young marrieds. At night the glow of fluorescent light told everyone you were home. A bluish light indicated MOVIE NIGHT! We heard a few loud marital disputes and even some summer lovin'. (I know, gross. We didn't have A/C and everyone left their windows open).

Our first baby lived there with us for 6 weeks before dh graduated. It was then that I really appreciated the fishbowl. At 1:00 am (and 3:00, and 5:00), when Flash was crying his eyes out and I couldn't figure out why I opened the blinds and looked out at the fishbowl. Without fail, there were other lights on. By then I knew the other residents--I knew who had a baby of their own, who was in law school, who was pre-med. I felt a certain kinship and even encouragement as I looked out. This was part of being an adult. Part of being a mom. I could do it.

Recently a friend was (sort of) railing on bloggers. She feels bloggers are probably internet addicts. They have nothing better to do. They are neglectful parents. I tried to explain it, but I probably failed. If I could have that conversation again I would describe it in terms of the fishbowl. No matter what your life is right now, you can look out and find someone who gets it.


Queen Scarlett said...

Love this!

pianogal said...

Enjoyed reading this.

Denise said...

What a sweet post. I never had the pleasure of living in the married dorms but I did visit some friends there. It seemed like fun to me. (But I never lived in dorms period.)

I love your analogy. I hardly feel like an addict. I feel like I am helping my family stay connected although we are hundreds of miles away. I feel like I am documenting the childhoods of my children and recording our family's history. When I read other blogs it helps me to know the author better and I even get ideas about how to be a better parent to my kids. So, I'm glad you wrote this...even if your blog naysayer never reads it.

Denise said...

I hope you enjoyed your Gatorade this morning... Luke spotted you at CVS when we were at the light on our way home from bringing Jackson to school :0)

Angie and Mike said...

So very true and a perfect analogy of it all.

PS. Utah State also had married housing "dorms" with a playground in the center of the "quads." We also had married student housing townhomes, although they were not cheap. You could always chalk it up to a Utah thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wonderful post! So true, we like a "peek" into each other's lives!

I grew up a few years in similar housing -- cinder blocks, tiny, opened to a playground. It was at Cornell, in Ithaca, NY. I remembered it as a huge place, but visited later when I was 12 and... what do you know? Actually a tiny apt!

Wonderful blog! I enjoy your writing.


Patty O. said...

I agree wholeheartedly. My sister once implied that I blog because I am bored and lonely, and I just didn't have the words to explain that it is so much more to me. I love this post, because it really captures what I feel about blogging.

Thanks for sharing. And I for one am grateful that you blog (and that you introduced me to it.)

Gwen said...

I stumbled on your blog by hitting the "next blog" button at the top of my own. I felt so compelled to give you a thumbs up for this post. I blog for a thousand reasons. I vent there instead of yelling at my kids. I take time for myself instead of eating junk food. I swap ideas with other moms, other crafters, other women, other students. I blog to maintain a grip on my sanity. And yes, sometimes I even blog because I am bored. Thanks for a lovely perspective on an activity that has saved my more times than I can count.

And by the way, Mizzou in Missouri has married student housing that sounds similar to what you are describing. I have friends who've raised kids there and if we didn't have 4 we'd probably be there as well.