My junior year of college I lived off campus at a place called “The Blockhouse”. The complex was a series of perfectly-shaped, two-story squares with a pool in the middle. It was just short of a mile from campus.
One of my roommates, Plano, was from Texas. Lee was from Phoenix but was told by his parents to go to the University of Arizona rather than Arizona State if for no other reason than to get further from home. Brilliant parents for sure. Lee was the only one with a car and by my junior year (his senior) when he wasn’t finishing up his double major in applied math and something-else math, he was working at Raytheon, programing defense systems and weapons for the military.
So Plano and I did a lot of walking — Blockhouse 83 to campus, and back. When we took weekend trips to San Diego, Lee was in charge of driving the Blockhouse crew, while Kyle brought our contingent of friends from the Zona Verde apartments.
On Saturday I met up with both my former roommates from that year while welcoming home my brother from his deployment in Guam. Lee and his wife Lynsey met my brother Mark, his wife Rachel and my 2-year old nephew Ben at the beach in Carlsbad. We talked for an hour and watched Ben slowly bury a football one calculated handful of sand at a time. When it was nap-time for Ben, Mark and Rachel left and Lee, Lynsey and I ventured out into the water.
The sun was bright, so I snapped my hat one hole tighter waded out with Lee up to my waist and challenged the waves. A little less daring, Lynsey stayed behind, instead choosing to watch us get hammered by the Pacific.
Lee dove under a wave. I lowered my head and momentarily broke a small hole in the water. We ran at larger waves, and body-surfed others. Lynsey laughed as Lee and I played like kids on their first trip to the big salty ocean. Exhausted, we then flip-flopped our way down to a Mexican taco joint and continued reminiscing.
Though our combined age is 91, we didn’t feel old, but the years between when we lived together at those soft tacos did seem to be stacking up.
Between anecdotes about games and injuries in college, we talked about our retiring parents. We talked about politics. We talked about careers. We talked about direction. You wonder about these things more when you turn the corner at 30.
Thanks to his work-ethic, Lee has done great things and lives a good life. Lynsey works at the University of San Diego, and her effervescent demeanor has not dulled since those dollar pizza nights at Old Chicago in Tucson. As we said goodbye, I hoped it wouldn’t be long before we met up again.
That night after dinner at my brothers’ in-laws, I drove to Newport Beach to crash at Plano’s. Plano does computer software programming for CBS and rents, along with two others, a million-plus-dollar home in Newport Beach.
We recapped the weddings of our friends the next morning at breakfast before I left. Lee married Lynsey in Massachusetts. Matt’s wedding was just outside New York City, Ryan’s was close to Washington, D.C. Transcontinental weddings made for great reunions every couple of summers we decided.
I then began the monotonous charge north to Manteca, contemplating the decade since I wore my college cap and gown.
Life has scattered all of us, but that’s the worth-while price of leaving home for college, then college for a career I guess. In one month my college loans will be paid off and it has been worth it, no question.
You can’t put a price on the educational and social experience, or people like Lee, Lynsey and Plano — even if I only see them once a year.
To contact Jeff Lund, email firstname.lastname@example.org.