A wide blanket of depression was cast over me this afternoon as I realized it has been over four years since I moved out of my fraternity house. Four years. That’s a long time. That’s how long you were in high school if you were normal, and how long you were college if you’re stupid. I miss it almost every day. It’s hard to move on from the most fun place you’ll ever live in your life.
I can remember the first day I moved into the house as a pledge on a hot, Midwestern, August day. My mom, dad and oldest brother helped me move my stuff in that day. The heat outside was baking this magnificent brick and mortar shithouse that would house me for six semesters of irresponsibility, debauchery and complete disregard for the health and safety of myself and my peers. The heat outside was magnifying the scent of the house that I would soon know all too well. It smelled like an old lakehouse, mixed with wood, leather furniture, drywall, stale liquor and the faint smell of cigarettes long extinguished. If I try hard enough, I can still smell it.
Smell ignites memory more than any other sense, and every time I go back, I am reminded of the things that we did there. The guy who always blasted music until five in the morning. How cold the milk was out of the milk machine in the morning. The way dried jungle juice and beer stuck to my shoes like super glue on our basement tile the morning after a house rager. Being able to find anything to do at all hours of the day, and always having a brother there to motivate you through shame when you’re too hungover for tailgate. It’s where dreams come true. A big, pillared mansion of dreams. The best place you’ll ever live.
The attic was the best place to do drugs. The supply closet next to the president’s room was the best place to sneak in a sloppy beej during a house party. Your room was the best place to do shots. Your suitemate’s bed was the worst place to have sex. The deck was the best place to bum a heater 24/7. Coffee tables were the best place to dance. Putting on the 80s playlist was acceptable in every situation, and the first floor hallway drywall was always the easiest to smash.
There are nicknames for everything in every fraternity house. Different sections of the house have special names, rooms have special monikers with meanings that have been long lost through generations, but the names stuck out of respect and tradition. There’s a plaque on a closet commemorating a brother from the 1970s who had sex with a girl inside of it. There’s the study, the quietest place in the house with beautiful leather furniture, long tables and shelves filled with the past and current glory of the house. Hallowed ground that is always revered.
I will never have a better meal than Friday lunches at the frat house. Tales of Thursday’s transgressions filled the air as we inhaled our chef’s “Fried Food Friday” bar food buffet to exorcise our hangovers. Chef Todd was the fucking best. Each table slowly went silent as someone spoke poetically about their first threesome, and then came the uproarious laughter after someone tried to one-up the threesome story with a devil’s threesome story. I’ve never laughed harder than during these sacred meals. I always loved the uncontrollable grin that spread across my face and the face of my brothers and the subsequent cheers and laughter that spread through the lunch crowd as they descended into the dining room after being crowned as the coveted “drunkest kid in town” award for their Thursday night performance.
Coming down those stairs, looking like all hell in sweatpants and last night’s shirt, it felt like a king’s welcome. We might have gotten in a little trouble with exec, but those fuckers next door deserved a ketchup bottle through their window after scheduling their formal the same weekend as ours. Cock suckers. Few men have ever received a standing ovation during Friday lunch. We should be proud to be one of those few.
I never met a chapter meeting I didn’t like. Viewed as a waste of time by most in the house, it was one of my favorite times to observe the mob mentality that me and my brothers took on, as exec tried their damnedest to keep order. I would often go to chapter just to take it all in. Outside of the parties and sex and other awesome stuff, chapter is the fraternity experience in its purest form. Eighty boys just playing fort in a multi-million dollar mansion.
This column was short and fleeting for a reason. It mirrors your time in the frat house. A beautiful castle filled with a millennia’s worth of memories and consumed alcohol. Fleeting. It‘s going to be gone before you know it, and you‘ll miss it more than you think. It seems like yesterday I had just moved in, met lifelong friends and pounded out some rando slizz without shack sheets on my bed. Fraternity life is a different world and the frat is your mothership. All memories lead back to it. Brothers change, slams get boring, GPAs fluctuate, but the house never changes. It’s always there, your north star during your time on campus.
One day you might wake up in your big ass house, next to your wife with seven-figures in your bank account and still wish that you could just go back, even just for a little while.