by CJ Akins
Laurel McCormack and Audrey O’Keefe call their Mercer Crib a “fortress of independence.” They moved into their house in August after hearing about it from two former Mercer students, Laura Nelms and Abby Roswell. McCormack said she used to bake in their home and that Nelms suggested she move in after Nelms and Roswell graduated. Laurel said she was a bit reluctant at first because the house was a little messy, but she was able to clean it up before moving in.
McCormack’s house is owned by Dr. MaryAnn Drake and her husband, and was formerly used for “play therapy.” Drake explained play therapy as a way to use playtime to help children work out difficult issues. “Children often cannot or will not talk about issues of importance to them. Their way of interacting with the world is often through actions and not words. Play therapy provides a safe, but loosely structured, environment where children can play…Children then do what they do, and in the observing, and interacting about the play with the child, many things come to light.”
“We loving living here, and be able to live on our own.” McCormack said. “It’s wonderful having our space, learning how to take care of the house, how to decorate it, and to be independent.”
One of the aspects McCormack loves most about that house is its ideal space configuration.“It’s the exact right space for two people. And, it has a lot of nice spaces that accommodate what I like to do. It has a space where I can study, it has a place where I sit on the porch, it has a place where I can read, and it has a place where I can cook.”
McCormack said she also likes that the house is very well fortified, as all the windows have bars on them. “It looks like a jail from the outside, but it is very safe-feeling. A fortress of independence,” she said.
Unfortunately, not all is perfect in the McCormack-O’Keefe household.
“There’s no insulation, so we have a hard time keeping the heating and the cooling bills down. We’re always hot or either always cold.” McCormack said. “We also have a lot of cats living underneath the house. We can hear them sometimes underneath the floor boards.”
McCormack loves all the character that the old house has. The kitchen has a gas stove, and McCormack said she and O’Keefe had to get used to using it. She also said that she had to get used to the wallpaper in her bedroom, because of it’s crazy pattern, but that eventually she came to love it.
“We love living so close to campus in a neighborhood where a lot of professors also live. I walk with my professors to and from our houses sometimes. Last semester, I borrowed a cake pan from Dr. Huber, because he lives so close to us and is such a kind neighbor!” McCormack said.