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Upgrade: Sophomore Moves From Harrison Double to Van Down By River


Photo Credit // Till Daling

Double life can be rough. Long nights, early mornings, bedtime sexual tensions — it gets pretty overwhelming. College sophomore Chase Norelk couldn’t take it much longer. The other night, his roommate fell asleep on the floor after chugging so many whippets that his heart temporarily stopped. The night before that, his roommate was up until 3 AM with the light on doing his finance homework. That circle block just wouldn’t fit into the square hole. He started thinking it was time for a new place.

Scrolling through various apartment sites, Norelk wasn’t having much luck. He found a place on 40th and Powelton for $1,600 a month, and, about to pull the trigger, he reminded himself that such rent would exceed his budget when combined with Penn’s $2,400 per month on-campus fee. So, Chase dug deeper into the trenches of the internet. Reddit, Facebook, TikTok — he was truly exhausting all options.

Finally, match.com provided our protagonist with a glimmer of hope. He met this guy Frank who said he had a nice spot just over the river in Center City. It was one of those mid-size U-Haul vans. The size that says, “I’m making a go of it in a new city because I committed a non-trivial crime in the last one and I don’t want to transport evidence across state lines so I don’t have much to bring.” 

Frank gutted the thing and stapled bed sheets to the interior to give it a nice homey vibe. Rent was exceedingly cheap — something like 50 bucks whenever Frank needed to get his mind right with some H. For now, it seemed like that wouldn’t be super often. And Chase would get a signing bonus of three pounds of ham from the deli just for moving in. This definitely seemed like the one. 

I caught up with Chase in his regal Philadelphia bungalow as he was drying off from his morning dive. “Yeah, caught a couple of crabs down there,” Chase said, before extending a muddy hand that held some sort of snail. “Hungry?” he asked. It seemed Chase was acclimating to van-down-by-river life a little quicker than I would have imagined. “Haha, nah, man. So you’re getting along OK down here?” I rebutted. Before responding to my question, Chase took off on all fours in pursuit of a mouse that was scurrying along the river trail. He was going like 25 mph at least, it was insane. I got the hell out of there.