Locational Living: The world beyond four walls

Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor

By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor

Welcome to the Continuing Misadventures of a Displaced Duquesne Student, a series in which Features Editor Seth Culp-Ressler grapples with his newfound life off campus. For the veterans of apartment life, feel free to laugh at his incompetence. For non-veterans, perhaps the mistakes he chronicles are valuable lessons.

Chapter Five: The Location

If my building was a block further south, it wouldn’t be an issue. A block east would solve it as well. Two blocks westward would do it, too. North? Well, north leads to Carson Street — the root of the problem in the first place — so, no.

If you haven’t already guessed, my bedroom has a bit of a noise issue.

And, indeed, a short move in three of the four cardinal directions would let me rest in peace. As it is, however, each weekend is an exercise in mild frustration. See, my apartment is a block and a half off of Carson proper, a distance which, I assumed, would be removed enough to escape the fervor of late-night South Side festivities.

Unfortunately, I live right around the corner from one of the very few bars south of the main drag. Patrons of that establishment usually walk right outside my window in transit to and from. This starts at around 10:30 p.m. and continues until, say, 2:30 or 3 a.m.

Now, let me be clear, while I’d love to have some peace and quiet on the weekends, I’m not an unreasonable grump. I live in an urban location filled with a vibrant nightlife — some boisterous passersby are a reality of life. Instead, I bring the topic up to make an important point when living off-campus is concerned: Location matters.

Yes, the oft-used real estate adage of “Location, location, location!” is quite important when choosing your living arrangement. And, after being in my current place for five and a bit months, I’ve gotten to know what works about my geographic positioning and what doesn’t. Hopefully the findings are enlightening.

It might be easy to guess from my previous anecdote that I’m not exactly your typical purveyor of the South Side. My nightlife typically involves a computer, some Oreos and my bed. Judge that admission however you see fit.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I lack appreciation for the wide variety of businesses the area offers. It’s undoubtedly the double-edged sword that is living in this kind of neighborhood. Being in amongst things to do means some noise at night, sure, but it also provides me with easy access to those very noise-producing businesses.

I can have virtually any type of food I could ever imagine, just blocks away. If I decide last-second to go see a concert on a Monday night I can — and at a location five minutes from my front door, no less. Should I want to make my bank account unhappy, Pittsburgh Guitars is right around the corner. I can get a haircut at a good four or five places, all short walks from home.

A key aspect of location I’ve picked up on during my time in South Side, however, is that of proximity to common destinations. The flats are a big place, and there is a significant difference between living on 11th and living on 27th. I was lucky enough to just about split the difference between my two major trips: Duquesne’s campus and the grocery store.

It’s a valuable lesson, I think. A living choice is more than just what’s inside the four walls of the house or building. It’s also an equation of compromise and context — zoom out Google Maps a click or two farther to really take in the whole situation (and see if there are bars close to your front stoop).

All things considered, I do genuinely enjoy living in the South Side. It often gets a reputation for being a miserable place full of drunk college kids — and, sure, that’s some of it. Crucially, though, the flats are a much more colorful place than such a simple characterization can convey.

On nice days I like to grab my camera and wander around the back streets, exploring the nooks and crannies of the area. Old brick houses abut ramshackle apartments which border striking modern architecture. I always find something wonderful and interesting and new.

Now if only I could get some sleep on the weekends.