Exploring Design Space

(originally posted September 4th, 2014)

We were all heroes in that sea of stars. Dying sunlight hit our receding hairlines. We all had receding hairlines, even (it seemed) the girls, they had their hair cropped back in tight buns and were Queen Elizabeths but without the pancake makeup. We were all foreheads in that building, drenched foreheads, close-shorn hair, little ears, gregarious laughter. That building was no house, no dorm, but it was such the college residence. It screamed college. People laughed from its balconies, hanging out its windows, sitting on its lawn with their knees curled up and their arms wrapped around the knees, their head bent forward and turned to whoever was talking even while they talked, and no conversation happened, just concerts of voices, a dozen concerts in a music festival that splayed across lawns, windows, and balconies. That was just outside!

Inside was a madness of drinking, acoustic guitars, stereos competing with the acoustics, electric guitars competing with both of those, more drinking, shower parties where everyone giggled under running faucets while crowding the tub with their clothes still on, their poor drenched clothes, even more drinking, tearful closet confessions, moody staring out the window, just-baked brownies, dog food pellets strewn across the floor, a picked-over vegetable platter, a television stuck on one station because of a broken remote, an unfinished search for the balls for the ping-pong table, and of queasiness that made everyone laugh. That was only a surface description of the building’s antics, only a skimming.

Life was that moment, that seized moment, with people whose accents matched yours, whose interests and beliefs matched yours, not to say there was no variety, there were different beer choices, different colors of the same tee-shirt design. But the distressing multiversity of life outside this area, this negotiated space, didn’t infect us. We laughed, we teared up, though we never cried and we never ever got angry. We streamed the rooms with toilet paper and made origami ducks for every spare space in the cupboards and played Monopoly with playing cards for property deeds, but we never got angry.

Thing is, though, the house didn’t survive past fall. The university of the city or the state sent a wrecking ball through it on a desolate December First, when the grass was dead and the trees were naked in ugly humiliation. The pylons and timber and roof tiles folded down on themselves, and the dust rose, indistinguishable from the hazy winter air. We all watched, we all felt a pang of pain, we all coughed as we inhaled the smoke, and then we all moved on.

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