Walking up for the very first time to my apartment in the Fort, I immediately noticed a razor blade lying outside of my doorstep.
Gingerly stepping around it, I almost stepped onto some previously unnoticed broken glass from the remnants of a plate, I assumed was thrown from one of the apartments above me.
Finally walking into the apartment itself, I immediately observed that the air conditioning unit was barely blasting out any air – our living room was painted navy blue and green stripes – and the view from my bedroom literally looked out into an alley with a barbed-wire fence and a vast array of beer bottles lying around.
I shrugged and thought, "but that's just the Fort for you."
Other problems abound with living in the Fort. Don't even mention the parking situation – some places have their own parking lots which provide you with spaces, but many others lack such amenities.
Parallel parking must become a strength if you are to survive living in Fort Sanders.
And those yellow painted curbs, as tempting and convenient as they may appear, can lead to disaster; I just retrieved my car this weekend from a Knoxville impound lot after a tow truck intervened on such a yellow-hued curb.
Along with all of that, there is also the ever-present question of safety. Everyone talks about how dangerous it can be at night, and how you always have to be careful. We've all received the UT alerts about guns and robberies. People almost always try to walk in groups at night. My mom and friends always tell me to text them when I get home so they know I'm safe.
But despite all of these things, the Fort is our home. It is our playground, our turf, even our "hometown" away from our hometowns.
There's a community here. You get to know your neighbors, whether it's just to commiserate over the landlord or to attend their parties. Knowing that you live so close to most of your friends gives it a camp-like atmosphere – enabling you to run from this apartment to that easily.
Playing pranks on your friends or leaving notes on their door is effortless.
A certain shabby glamour can be found in the buildings and houses, giving them all a unique character. Almost everything, except for a couple of the student living complexes, is old.
The history here is evident – the name for the Fort originated from it being an actual fort in the Civil War. It used to be home to wealthy Knoxvillians who built their houses here. James Agee, the famous author, both lived and set his masterpiece "A Death in the Family," right on Laurel Avenue. According to Wikipedia, it was only after World War II and the increasing numbers of UT's student body that the Fort became home to students.
We live with that history, while also making our own to eventually leave behind.
Another aspect of living in the Fort is just a hint of rebelliousness. Our parents may not approve, but we like living a little bit on the wild side – adding a bit of jungle to our lives.
Whether it's the pair of shoes thrown over power lines, or the random pair of underwear you see on the sidewalk, it's all a part of the Fort experience.
Take it in and enjoy it, because someday we're not going to all live within walking distance of our friends.
Our rent is not always going to be so cheap, nor will it any longer be socially acceptable for us to live some of the confined spaces we call now call home. Corner markets with the best selection of beer and frozen dinners are not always going to be accessible. Walking to football games and back with no worries about parking or traffic is likely not ever going to be possible again.
Love the Fort, not for the housing it can give, but for the home it already is.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at email@example.com.