Monday, March 01, 2004

Carpe Diem

When Revelle College invited us to last Sunday’s parents’ brunch at the UC-San Diego Faculty Club, I was not inclined to go. Our freshman had just been home over the winter holiday, and we’ll see him again in March after second quarter finals. But sometimes one has to suppress left-brain cost-benefit analysis (see previous post) and seize the day.

Price Center, University of California - San Diego, February 29, 2004

San Diego sparkled in the sunlight as our packed Southwest 737 touched down. We walked across the skybridge to the shuttle and soon were speeding up Highway 5 in our rented car to Gilman Drive. We parked next to Revelle College (UC-San Diego has a residential college system modeled after some well-known East Coast universities), met our son near his dorm and waved to some familiar faces—parents from Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and San Mateo—who had also flown south from the Bay Area.

One parent told us that he and his wife had been in San Diego for the past week, tending to their son who had contracted mononucleosis. They had rented a room at the nearby Residence Inn and made sure R. had plenty of rest and quiet, attributes which are scarce in a freshman dorm. R. said he was feeling much better, and I wondered if, in the event I were faced with a similar situation, I would have done as much or as well as his dad.

The "sun god" just outside the faculty club

The brunch was a well-organized affair. The buffet was more than ample, and the crowd of over 100 was entertained by the musicianship, prestidigitation, and terpsichorean talent displayed by the student performers. The vice chancellor, provost, and dean kept their remarks brief, humorous, and interesting, and a pleasant morning was capped when we won a Class of 2003 T-shirt in the raffle.

Students and student-performers from Revelle College, UCSD

In the fashion of doting parents we drove to Ralph’s and loaded up N.’s larder with snacks and drinks. He presented me with the 4-disc edition of the Indiana Jones movies, which I started watching this evening. I had forgotten how much fun those films were; two were made before he was born, and because I still think of them as recently made, I once again felt the passage of years.

When I was in college, Hawaii was a ten-hour flight away, and I could only see my family once, perhaps twice each year. We Islanders sought each other out and clung together in common misery, but most adapted to the forced separation. Being away made at least one local kid grow up, and some of us came to like it so much that we made the Mainland our home.

But now my thoughts turn to Andy, my roommate from Darling, Pennsylvania. He was tall and tough, light-years ahead of me in street-smartness. He haggled for half a day with an upperclassman over a used refrigerator, and got the price to under $100. Andy with the crinkly eyes, destined for big things. A few months into his freshman year, Andy’s father died unexpectedly. Savvy, tough-guy Andy’s eyes were swollen and red for days. He went home for a couple of weeks, and my two roommates wondered if he would come back. When he did return, the atmosphere in our suite was never the same.

When his father drove him to college, Andy didn’t know he would be seeing him for the last time. I’m glad I went to San Diego. © 2004 Stephen Yuen

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