By Yishi Liang
It is not unusual for students to discover off-campus houses by following the general crowd heading toward the streets just south of Main Hall after weekend activities. However, it would be unusual for one to casually stumble upon 1208 Main Street, home of Kamila Berkalieva, Ellen Finnegan, Andrew Klinkenborg and S&B Editor-in-Chief Alyce Eaton (all ’13), located several blocks west of Grinnell’s campus. This is likely for the best because entrance to the house, known by its membership as Amy Wine House, is invitation-only.
“Our circle of invited people is very exclusive,” Berkalieva said.
There seems to be a disagreement about whether this reflects the group or only Berkalieva’s opinion.
“Kamila doesn’t want anyone over, but the rest of us do,” Finnegan countered.
The inaccessibility of 1208 is almost an injustice to Grinnell students, who are unable to enjoy the posters of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Selena Gomez and many other important pop icons that adorn the walls. Aside from their personal décor, the housemates keep a number of hidden treasures discovered in their American Horror Story-inspired basement. Some of the residents have helped themselves to two Nintendo 64s, a pair of Dr. Martens, multiple speakers and even a computer.
“Our house is basically a historical landmark at this point,” Finnegan noted.
Klinkenborg, however, prides himself in being above the scavenging tendencies of his friends.
“I don’t take stuff because it’s not mine,” he proclaimed.
His ethical concerns about theft apparently do not apply to food; Klinkenborg hates to see food go uneaten, which means he will eat almost any food found in the house, whether his or not, fresh or expired. Food seems to play a key role in defining the events that take place at Amy Wine.
“Usually we [have] food-centric events. We eat food, then we sleep on the beanbag and then we all leave,” said Eaton.
Berkalieva and Klinkenborg have not always found it easy to enjoy the food served at their house, especially the spicy Indian dishes made by honorary member Chinar Verma ’13, because of their geographically-impaired/improved tongues.
“Our tongues can taste flavors on another level that other people can not. Other people can’t taste the level of spice that we can,” Klinkenborg shared.
It has not always been easy for the two to talk about their enhanced sense, but Klinkenborg is hoping to raise awareness to this condition so that others from the community who are affected can share their struggles and experiences.
In addition to bettering society, Klinkenborg also has a busy weekend work schedule that has limited the group’s bonding time to only five days a week. To compensate for this, the four friends try to be in each others’ company as much as possible.
“Randomly we’re all just in the same room, and we just sit there and go on our computers alone,” Eaton said.
This seemingly simple get-together has not come easily because steady Internet connection is hard to come by. Along with this, the group suffered another “dark period,” as described by Eaton, when their Netflix account was also unavailable.
“You would think that it would make us more productive, but it doesn’t,” Finnegan said.
There are probably only a handful of students who have been to 1208 but it has nonetheless provided its residents with a wonderful home, a treasure trove and a possibly haunted basement to remember for the ages. With still a few weeks ’til graduation, it is not too late to befriend a member of the group and become one of the few individuals invited to enter Amy Wine House.