14 February, 2008

College Memories (2)


I remember sitting in the van, with everything packed up, driving out, up the street, away from the house I had lived in for 12 years or so, heading toward the interstate, unimaginably excited about the journey I was embarking on. My dad was at the wheel. We were listening to RRK, and whether by fate or irony, the song Point Of Know Return by Kansas played. I knew that I was making a huge step in my life, and that from here there'd be no turning back.

We listened to Neil Young's Decade on the trip up. I saw visions of demons and angels in my head, during the instrumental portions of Cowgirl In The Sand. When we arrived in Lewisburg, it was getting late. We checked into the hotel we were staying at overnight, before the big day, and then tried to drive in to get a glimpse of the campus. We made it to Market St., and when my dad asked the guy at La Casa De Pizza where the campus was, he said it was just another block or two in that direction. We were confused, as we didn't know the area too well, but we got some pizza and took it back to the hotel. By this time, it was full-on dark. I remember eating that pizza in the hotel room, watching some Conan The Barbarian movie on television for a little bit, then listening to the radio on my portable system, trying to find which stations were good in this town, before finally getting to sleep.

In the morning, I giddily prepared myself, and we headed towards campus. Our car was directed to the building I was to be living in - Larison Hall. As we arrived, and stopped the car in front of the building, we were immediately absorbed by a whirlwind of volunteer assistants who quite efficiently whisked all my luggage away and up to my room. I and my dad were informed that this was the chance for me to go in, get my room key from my RA, and check out my room - without my dad's assistance, a first chance at independence. We eventually met back at my room, and started to unpack some of the more important things.

I finally got to meet my would-be roommate, Brent. Ironically, he was from California, which is where my then-girlfriend had moved to attend college. He was a great guy, very friendly, although we weren't really the best match, since he was a total party guy/social butterfly. But for what it could have been, it was a pretty positive experience since I had never faced the prospect of living in close quarters with a stranger before.

I guess there were some events and things, but it came to a point where my dad was anxious to start the long trip home, and where I needed to start getting used to living on my own, away from parental guidance and protection. We parted ways in the middle of a thronging crowd assembled for some activities fair type gathering on the lawn next to the chapel, and I remember it being an incredibly bittersweet moment, filled simultaneously with fear and excitement, sadness, and vigor.

There was about a week of freshman orientation before actual classes began, where we could get used to living on campus, where to get food, become acquainted with our hall mates, attend supposedly mandatory (ha!) meetings about adapting to college life, and stuff like that. Basically, it was a lot like some kind of camp, except that we were living in buildings and not tents or huts. There were some incredibly lame festivities, where we were held captive on the field and forced to play embarrassing games with the rest of the freshman class, which really lowered my appreciation for the whole orientation program.

My hall had some pretty cool people. Of the two guys right across the hall from my room, one of them was from Pittsburgh, which was pretty cool. He was kind of a rough-and-tumble sporty type, though. Once, we got in trouble for playing the same song from each of our rooms, and adjusting the volume so that you could get a perfect equal balance from both sides by standing right in the middle of the hall between the two rooms. That was awesome. Down the hall, in the triple, there was "rock star Mike" (the Asian and the Mike that I was friends with in college would find irony in the fact that this particular Mike was Asian - and a guitarist! Premonitions?), who was a talented guitarist, and Pedro, another beginning guitarist like myself. Interestingly, we had three Laurens on our hall, and two Kates of some form. There was also a fascinating individual by the name of Whitney, who I got to know a little better later on (he spent a year backpacking in Europe, before entering college!). He started out studying Japanese right away, and though I had plans to take Japanese too as soon as I got the chance, he once told me never to take it because it was so challenging!

During one of the early festivities on campus, though it may have been after classes had started, there was a fleeting experience that burned a lasting image in my mind. I was walking through a crowd on the fields and walkways outside the upper entrance of the LC, tons of people hanging out and having a good time. Maybe there were some crafts, maybe there was some food being served. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. Anyhow, and this image may have been idealized by my emotional reaction, but I recall seeing a beautiful girl in the grass, barefoot, with flowing blonde hair. It sparked in me a visceral connection to everything I loved about the idealism of the love and peace hippie generation, and though I didn't make any kind of specific connection to the girl at the time, I took it as a symbol of how beautiful and amazing this world was that I was just entering into! The possibilities were endless!

During those early days, I also met another person that would have a hand in shaping my experience of college life. I believe I first met Paul on the bench outside our advisor's office, waiting for our very first individual meetings with him. Paul was clearly much higher up on the social ladder than I, but we shared an interest in physics and classic rock music, as well as a passion for playing the guitar, so I like to think we were able to have a pretty meaningful acquaintanceship. In addition to my intense fandom of the band he later played in on and around campus, by his connection I was introduced to a lot of scenes that I never would have experienced otherwise. Not to say that all of those scenes were necessarily scenes that I wanted to be a part of, but even so, I'm grateful for getting to see all different sides of life, even if just for comparison.

One of the major developments of that first week of living on campus was the switch from rooming in a double to rooming in a single. My roommate Brent became friends with another guy a few doors down, who also came from California, and who lived in a single. Turns out this other guy was having doubts about attending Bucknell, and before the week was out, he arranged to withdraw and transfer to UCLA. Lucky for me, Brent was the first person to act on the vacancy. He moved into the single down the hall, leaving me in my room all to myself! Some people warned that the administration would find someone else to squeeze into my room in Brent's place, but no such thing ever happened. Besides, that room was pretty cramped for two people, anyway. But it was just right for one. The extra special bonus was that, since it was outfitted as a double, I got twice the furniture! So I had an extra set of shelves, twice the closet space, one desk for school work and one desk for my computer, and a double bed! It was fantastic! Truly a dream come true! I lofted both the beds, so as not to overcrowd the space in the room, and put my computer desk in the cave underneath. It was amazing! Shangri-La!!


  1. I remember having misgivings when I found out that my roommate was a black high school player from Baltimore who was really into his rap and basketball, as well as the whole "scene" thing.

    It ended up not working out all that well; he was a decent guy, but had absolutely nothing in common at all. It probably didn't help that he loved playing his music as loud as Mr. Sokol, but had subwoofers to help... and would often wake up the hall at 5 in the morning with his rap music as an alarm.


    Well, one of the students at the other end of the hall ended up not coming in because of visa problems, so I moved down into that single -- the tiniest one on campus, I think. My roommate was the one who got the double for himself...

    I also remember orientation -- or rather, going to extremes to avoid it. Since we had orientation schedules and I knew I really, really didn't want to go to some (all?) of those ridiculous-looking events, I found ways to avoid them. One thing I remember in particular is that I went all the way to one of the Harris bathrooms on an upper floor and hid there for 20 minutes with a book before going back to my room. Most of the other times, though, I just holed myself up in my room, locked the door, and used the computer while I ignored everyone else being rounded up.

    I'm really glad I skipped out on that crap; it doesn't seem to have hurt my relations with other freshmen, either. Though, I sort of regretted not getting one of those neat little 2006 pins.

    I think I pretty much tried to avoid every large "class" event in my freshman year, and pretty successfully too.

    Speaking of names, I think there were three Kates, two Kristens, and three Christines on my hall... there were two Joes, so the guys didn't seem to have as much of a problem.

    Gordo was on my freshman hall, and we were pretty good friends along with another guy from Colorado who ended up transferring out at the end of the year, much to my dismay.

    The feeling I remember most was one of freedom... I really wanted to get out of the house and live on my own. I was totally into it from the first minute; I just wanted everyone else to leave so I could be alone.

  2. Ah youth, good, good times. I start to think "hey, if I had stayed in college I would have gotten to have a couple more youthful experience." But then I remember the truth, that these youthful experiences weren't actually fun in the least, and that they only seem poetic strictly in hindsight.

    Anyway, I like tarepanda had an extreme distaste for orientation activities. I went to those dumbo activities in Summer Session, where the only interesting that that happened was a guy asked me "are you high right now?" and I said "not currently." But when Fall Semester came around I was jut like "hey guess what I found out in Summer Session... all that stuff they tell you is mandatory? Well it's not!" And then later on it was even better because it was like "What are they gonna do? KICK ME OUT? Ahahahahahaha."

  3. Yup. Every other person I met was named Kate, Lauren, or Alex or Chris. And I wiggled my way out of Color Wars somehow.