Perhaps we seemed like paupers – us flocks of underclassmen peasant sheep making our way down the center of the social square – but we were royalty.
At least, we had to make ourselves feel that way. As freshmen new to the kingdom, knowing your place was like a death sentence. It’s much better to fulfill the cliché of the precocious freshman than the overwhelmed one. So, when we strode down Hunting Lodge, toward Carriage and Celeron, most of the time not even allowed into the parties we sought out; we were royalty.
It may appear as if the tenants/hosts of the houses and apartments we advanced upon were true royals, but they are merely the noble class. Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are handed down titles and deeds to land from the university, because, hey, both the kingdom and its nobles have the money. But we, in our Friday and Saturday best, out to get lucky, with nothing but dorm rooms and cover cash to our name, we were still the royalty.
That’s because we could do whatever we wanted. We were without obligation. Homework was scarce and worry was less. When the weekend came, we would debate if it was better to stay in than to try the mostly unsuccessful roulette to get into a party where we didn’t know anyone. Actually being admitted that initial year happened, tops, five times. But even when we got in we wanted only to get out. The real party was on the street, where we made our friends for the next four years. That was the kingly feast of socializing, where one would deal with catcalls, milkshakes thrown out of car windows in your direction to the tune of “F***king freshman!” flirting, shouting, crying, dancing and general drunkenness. It was college. And we were royalty.
Halfway up Hunting Lodge, a wave of people were walking back toward my group, so we knew that either a party had been busted, or that nothing was going on. A friend of mine began beat boxing, and I started freestyle rapping. Within two minutes a group of 40 students surrounded us, all cheering like they were at a concert. A raucous cypher took form, and we were its happy arbiters. Nothing mattered outside of that twenty-minute commotion before the police poked around to see what the hubbub was. It was the spontaneous embodiment of art and freedom, and we felt like royalty.
My friends and I rolled “SO DEEP!” as we used to say on those nights. Many of us remained close for all four years. When we reminisce on those days, when we used to walk for hours without a destination, we always come back to how one of us lost a sock on those nights, rolled an ankle, made out aggressively on the back of a car, snuck in, got kicked out, took off clothes in exchange for drugs, dealt with idle boys on a roadside fence telling me the girl I was with was way out of my league, and I didn’t fight him on it, how we evaded the cops, but we never recognize that we are now those whom we once were jealous of. Where does that leave us?
We live in Celeron and Carriage, in houses and apartments off-campus. We no longer are a part of the herd and their fruitless search. Last year, I drove into campus at 10 p.m. on the first weekend and witnessed this pilgrimage as an outsider. Some even showed up to the party at my house. It all looked so asinine. I yelled “F***ing freshman” out the window. I missed it.
We are so far from where we once were, dancing on the sidewalk and trying to convince the girls to stay with us even though they could get in and we couldn’t. Nowadays, we never want for a party and we take everything for granted. We eat, drink and do whatever else we want, like kings and queens, princes and princesses. So then why, now, do we feel like lazy nobles, or like the peasants we once thought we were, instead of royalty?
We were royalty once. Maybe we stayed that way. Now I know that it was best not to know at all, to just be. And now I know that the best party at UConn was no party at all. It was walking up and down the same street, looking.
Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.