Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the old college try

Today I sat in on the creative writing class at Homeboy (yeah, the one I used to teach; another teacher took over while I was on maternity leave and ended up staying, and I try not to have an ego about it), and the topic was: Write about a place. I've already written about all the L.A. neighborhoods I've lived in and about the South Bay, where I grew up, so I decided to write about dorm life. 

I just realized that living in a triple at UCLA is not unlike living in a two-bedroom with minimal storage space and a baby.
We were stacked three to a room in ten-story residence halls, concrete walls as thick as our freshman skulls. The carpet hid stains. Our mini fridges were stocked with diet soda and apples growing soft, as we filled up on waffle fries, Froot Loops and build-your-own omelets.

We'd fled the suburbs to be here--Manhattan Beach, La Jolla, El Cajon, Walnut Grove. We circled the city, curious about its secrets but still removed. A guy down the hall from me said he was on the Palestinian Olympic karate team. A guy in the other direction had a mattress-sized Israeli flag on the wall above his bed.

The halls smelled like Lysol and microwave popcorn. A guy named Matti stayed awake for three days playing video games, then disappeared from school. Or that's how I remember it. Some other guys pooled their money and bought an old boat of a car for $200. We rode around the parking lot, sinking into its vast swaths of duct dape.

Squish into mah sweet ride.
My roommate had wanted to go to Rice, but couldn't afford it; she held it against us that she was here. My other roommate sang "Nacho, nacho day" to the tune of "Macho Man" every time they served them in the cafeteria.

We were young and dumb and smart. There was email, but nothing good yet on the internet. We watched The Simpsons and had deep conversations. If I wasn't deep enough, Andy would let me know. He was an IRA sympathizer and a sophomore.

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