Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Willkie Co-op. The Best Years of My Life.When I was in college, in the seventies, I lived in the only co-op dorm on the IU campus: the Willkie Co-op. The rich kids lived in the high-rises and the Greek houses, but my people lived in the co-op.
The Willkie Co-op was four stories high, compared to the eleven stories most of the high-rises had grown to. There was one large restroom on each floor, and one single room on each floor, which was usually occupied by a senior, who was also, usually, Kitchen Manager or House Manager. All the other rooms were doubles.
The RA had a suite on the ground floor. We didn't see her much; she was an opera singer and I don't think she really understood the concept of "poor."
We managed ourselves. The Kitchen Manager made out the roster of servers, dishwashers, etc, and the House Manager made out the roster for general inside maintenance, ie vaccuuming the halls and cleaning the bathrooms, which included stocking paper towels and toilet paper. We were responsible for cleaning our own rooms ourselves. Each floor had a vaccuum cleaner and we shared it. The laundry room (one washer, one dryer, both coin-operated) was in the basement.
It didn't take long for everyone in the co-op to become a family. There were always a few who remained outsiders, but it was always entirely by their choice. Most of us became really close. When you have to wash dishes with someone, it's difficult to do without conversation. Working with people brought us close to each other. Our cafeteria was small, and the tables held six or more. Wherever you sat, you were near lots of other people. We had a tiny lounge with a ten-inch B/W tv in it, which we watched in large groups. Generally, we gathered for Jeopardy and Cowboy Bob, on a regular basis. The pizza delivery guy came often.
And when we weren't in the mood for pizza on the floor of a dorm, we left the dorm and made for Funky's, or Fred's. Funky's was the, well, funkiest, with its glow-in-the-dark eyeball wallpaper and all those chastity belts hanging from the ceiling. Fred's, while delicious, was more conservative. A student could safely take a parent to Fred's, but most parents back then would not have been able to handle Funky's. Now, it would probably be different. Neither restaurant is there now.
My memories of life in the Co-op are almost all good. I loved my 'family' there very much. Some of the most precious people in my life lived there with me. Even now, years later, I still count the co-op as the best years of my life. We were small, but we were mighty. We won IU Sing. We won the Little 500, and gave them a run for their money at the 500 itself. We blew the town away in trivia contests.
Why am I remembering this now? Today, at Sam's Club, I ran into one of those precious people. He's a judge now, very prominent. Still cute, still cool, still Paul. Sooo hot. Sooo great. We talked for a while, and then had to leave and become adults again. Bummer. You can see him on my Flickr; he's the tall blonde cute one. Still in great condition, while I have fallen somewhat from fitness grace. Ahem.
I hadn't seen him for five or six years, and before that, probably ten at least. But when I turned the corner of that aisle and heard him say my name, I knew instantly who it was.
Thank you, dear old friend, for being there at Sam's today. For a few minutes, you turned back the clock for me, and we were Paul and Jane, wondering what John and Wong were doing these days, and mourning for Bruce and Meid and Mike and Joyce and Christie.
It's amazing to me, that people with so much in common, with so many shared memories, could leave a common environment and venture out into the world with hardly a backward glance at what once meant so much.
But we do. We all do.
Until we're reminded of it by a chance meeting, and we once again become who we used to be, for just a tiny little while, and when we part again, we're blessed by shared memory.
And then we sigh, and become adults, and head for the Feta cheese and the orange juice. And maybe toss in a box of granola bars for old time's sake.
Thanks, Paul. I loved seeing you today.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:37 PM | |