Back to School, Part I

I parallel-parked a U-Haul the other day, during move-in, without anyone’s vehicle or person becoming scraped, cracked, or otherwise damaged, which I will designate this week’s greatest accomplishment.


My suitemates are all here. A vignette for each:

Hillary Ryan‘s enormous Texas flag hangs on his bedroom door. (Hillary is a boy.) Also on his door: one of those “Ready for Hillary” stickers, courtesy of girlfriend Jaja Liao, which I think was also the name of the lead female in Quantum of Solace. Much of our communication for these first few days consists in shouting up and down the staircase of our new suite, because that is how real men communicate. The first of these discussions concerned using HVAC pipe to reroute the air conditioning. It’s far from the man’s first act of suite-hacking. My theory: Hillary engineers not as a vocation, but as a way to fix whatever silly mistakes God made creating the world the first time around. And I’m happy to be living in Hillaryworld.

Owen Barrett brought all the furniture, and an espresso machine to boot. He drinks four cups the night I begin this post. Recently, he began an extended argument with Hillary over the identity of Yale’s most talented mathematician. (In brief: “My academic adviser could beat up your academic adviser!”) He spent the summer doing math at the University of Louisiana, and prefers that school’s culture to Yale’s. In Baton Rouge, one sees little of the constant drive to impress one’s peers that stands omnipresent in New Haven. Owen reads Rimbaud and hosts an electronica program on the college radio station. His prickly exterior guards a delicate soul.

Vijay Narayan is watching football on his bed and eating something that crunches. He spent the summer at CERN, which makes him the third of my three suitemates whose majors I do not understand. But we often talk about sports and girls, and pretend to be bros to such a great extent that we have actually become bros. He sang at a campus concert earlier; his Carnatic vocal skills are without peer, even on this talented campus. He seems rested, ready. I think this will be a big year for Vijay, though that could mean anything from the Giants winning the Super Bowl to physics finally figuring out the reason gravity exists.

I came here so I could know that, whenever I stepped into a room, someone in that room would be smarter than me. Was it overkill for Yale to stick me with three of them? Maybe. But I’m a better man for it, even if I will never again describe myself as “good at math” unless it is in the past tense.


Postscript: I am determined to collaborate on something with each of these men. A novel with Hillary, for which we’ve written Chapter 3 and nothing else yet. A remix with Owen, who prefers Mala where I prefer Chase & Status; I think we’ll compromise with Photek. And when Vijay gets his secret dream job as the most analytical sports broadcaster in history, I’ll to come in as a guest for Wimbledon and talk tennis with him for an hour.

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