Storytime with Sten: My 4 humble UConn abodes

"Carriage had, by far, a more robust party scene than anywhere I’d ever lived, as well as occasional cases of arson. Those dirty apartments are a playground for the free and the obscene."  (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

As of late, I’ve attempted to avoid the topic of graduating when speaking with my friends, saying “It’s too soon, we’re not there yet,” as if refraining from talking about it will keep it from happening. But it’s easy to slip into nostalgia as a second-semester-senior. Today, I gave into a specific sort of Storrs reminiscence: place.

Thinking of my living locations over the past four years transported me to memories I forgot I had. Like a certain smell, or a song, the concept of “home” is a strong emotional indicator. I considered the largesse of the University of Connecticut – the over 20,000 students, the old buildings, from Wilbur to Depot Campus, the countless clubs – and came to the conclusion that there are countless microcosmic-UConns within UConn. Here are four of mine.

1. Lester E. Shippee Hall

And darn proud of it. Shippee was formative, my freshman year place of residence and where I met a group of people who would eventually coalesce into a lifelong friend group. The thing is, Shippee is mercilessly made fun of, perhaps especially by the people I shared it with that fateful freshman year, when I learned to hate frat parties, to love tall bushes with picnic tables behind them, how to fit 25 people in a two-person dorm room, to make older friends so they could buy me booze, to leave your door open in case you could meet someone new, to become an English major, to make the walk to South Dining Hall and skip Buckley, and that the collection of friends you put together is the most important decision you’ll make as a freshman.

Anyway, don’t hate on the Ship. Good things happened there. It wasn’t perfect, but the people were bright, and creative.

2. Hurley Hall, North Campus  

The quad. I lived with three friends that year and we thought we were sick for having a quad. One of us penned a “Quadstitution” that included “No Drake is allowed to be played in this room” and “No f***ing on the futon.” We soon realized that a quad could hardly contain four growing boys, but as sophomores, our egos were wrongfully off the charts, so this fact didn’t bother us much.

I wanted to live in The Jungle. It had been tamed since the 20th century, of course, but I still met some insane people, men and women alike, who ensured that North would be a weird adventure. I suppose that year was one of fellowship, necessitated by closeness, but also one where I stumbled my way to some pretty big decisions, such as “I want to be a journalist,” and “these people are my closest friends, I don’t need new ones,” and “I don’t think we should date anymore,” and “we should get back together,” and, finally, “we definitely shouldn’t date anymore,” among others. I was selfish that year but it was the good sort of selfish, like when you look out the window of your dorm in North, or you walk up the “secret” trail to the smoking fort, and you ask yourself, “How many people have done this before me?”

3. Carriage House Apartments

The move to off-campus was a big one. Carriage had, by far, a more robust party scene than anywhere I’d ever lived, as well as occasional cases of arson. Those dirty apartments are a playground for the free and the obscene. My time spent there is what I think of most fondly of my various lodgings. It fit me – it thought itself great without good reason, and without pretension, it liked to party, to throw big, memorable parties, it liked to spend time outside, it likes good-natured people. I inadvertently finished writing two books there.

Carriage, a foreign idea when I was a freshman, like some mystical palace where you can do whatever you want (a palace I only gained access to late sophomore year), was rendered concrete. If you came to Carriage and loved it, I loved you. If you critiqued it, I understood, but I judged you.

4. Celeron Square Apartments

My final resting place. At last, I have a bed bigger than a twin (a king) and my roommate and I, my best friend at UConn whom I originally met at Shippee that first weekend, each have our own rooms. We split everything down the middle – groceries, Xbox, Netflix time – like a bad divorce. 

I love Celeron, it makes me feel like an adult. Well-to-do Greek Lifers surround me, and the whole thing is self-sufficient, because we’ve already made our friends and plans and now we’re here in this college retirement home, drinking our way to graduation. My only gripe is with the parking Gestapo who won’t even let Ubers drop us off in the driving snow, and the overall management with its frequent noise complaints and ban on pets.

If Carriage took itself seriously, it would be Celeron.

These places I have called home are all integral to UConn as a whole. Thus far, I only have good memories associated with them, so good, in fact, that it hurts to call them memories at all.  


Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sten.spinella@uconn.edu.