Jack is 19 years old and is a double major in art and math at UCSB. He’s lived in a small town in the western part of Washington where his backyard is filled with maple trees and sour grape vines. He misses his cat Sylvie, who sleeps in his bed when he is around. After talking to him on a Wednesday night until 3am, I crashed out on Jack's floor, where he provided a camping mat and spare blanket and pillow. See photo above.
Jack decided to live in IV, not necessarily by choice, but from an unusual circumstance that involved a roommate negotiation at the campus dormitories which fell through the cracks. He had scrambled to find a place to live after his freshman year in college and ended up at the Studio Plaza apartments off Camino Del Sur.
His description of his initial reaction to living in IV was "intimidating at first. It’s a crazy, crazy place. [...] At the beginning of the year I thought, 'IV is so cool,' then I thought, 'oh, it’s so scary.' But now I think it’s a unique thing."
Jack has grown to become content with his current living situation. He has no problems with his landlord, utilities, or with the condition of the building itself. In a discussion that he previously had with his parents, he's calculated that he's saving more than what he would be paying living on campus.
"I'm also a street a-ways, so it's a lot quieter, and because every apartment [in the complex] there is a one-person studio apartment, there's not crazy parties and stuff," Jack says. "But I'm close enough to that if that is what I want to do. But I do end up spending a lot of time by myself.
"Once the shock value passes, some of the silly things are fun. Like walking in the middle of the street. There’s a lot of freedom. It feels like a hodgepodge of different things coming together. Like a sustained anarchy, in a way, but in a pretty successful way."
Even in a dense unincorporated town of nearly 20,000 residents in a small two square mile radius, the sentiment of loneliness arises.
"I have to stay busy, because it gets lonely sometimes. But it’s also a great place," Jack adds.
Kind of having a sense of what Jack is currently experiencing, I gave him a small handmade 16-fold book with some words of encouragement.
At a surprising time of 3am we both decided that this is way too late. Jack has an early surf lesson and has to leave at 7:30am. I pass out quickly on his floor, sound asleep, and groggily wake up in a few hours to see Jack up and ready to go for his surf lesson. He sees me out and I walk to a bright and quiet IV.