What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

On walking to the donut shop at 1:00AM

As college freshmen, we were not given a choice of roommates. Supposedly, it was just luck of the draw. I was of the opinion that luck had little to do with it and that the Dark Forces of Hell-Driven Satanic Evil were sent to punish me. It would not be fair to go into the details, but my assigned college roommate and I were simply not compatible. I could make a long list of areas where we did not get along although my side of the story can be summed up in one sentence. He would play marching band albums on my stereo at 6:30 in the morning. It is, perhaps, the only instance where I think capital punishment is merited.

After one particularly disturbing late night incident involving his tuba and a pair of dirty gym socks (you just don’t want to know!), I stormed out of the room at 1:00AM. A few doors down the hallway sitting on the floor with his books was a guy I had seen and talked to a few times, but didn’t really know that well. I think our conversation at that moment consisted of,
“Roommate?” “Yeah” “Me, too”

We sat there in the hall on the cold tile for few more minutes just being two strangers sharing a common misery. To this day I cannot recall who suggested it, but one of us looked up and said, “So, you wanna go to the donut shop.”

The donut shop was about six blocks from campus. It was on a somewhat rundown section of road that had once been a major thoroughfare, but was now just a worn-out series of gas stations, diners, and closed-up storefronts. It was definitely not a popular area for students to hang out. That donut shop’s only appeal stemmed from the fact that it stayed open all-night and had really strong, really bad coffee. It also had hot chocolate that tasted suspiciously like the really bad coffee. At one o’clock in the morning, we started walking down the dark off-campus streets heading for the donut shop. We talked about nothing important and mostly just complained about our respective roommates. After having a greasy donut and a hot drink, we walked backed to the dorm and slipped into our rooms long after our roommates had fallen gloriously unconscious. Thus was born the strange ritual that allowed me to survive my first semester of college without being brought up on capital murder charges.

Walking to the donut shop in the dead of night became our pressure release valve. It didn’t matter how late it was, if one of us was feeling fed up or needed a caffeine/sugar boost to stay up late and study, we would knock on the other’s door. Then, without question or comment, trek to the oasis of lard. I’m not sure if it was the walk, the shared unhappiness, the often-obnoxious conversations, or the really bad coffee/hot chocolate; but it seemed to make the trials of our freshman year less pressing.

You would think that the college experience would somehow be found in a glorious explosion of knowledge or at the very least, at a drunken toga party. But for me, some of my strongest memories of my freshman year are found at 3:00AM sitting in that donut shop with the snoring drunks and the smell of stale cigarettes. My memories of those late night sessions have an unreal quality to them now. It was like stepping out of college life and entering a Twilight Zone episode. It is more than a little scary that in retrospect many of my lifelong beliefs about society, politics, and the human condition were hashed out in long late night discussions in that donut shop.

At the semester break, we were allowed to change roommates. Since my pre-assigned roommate dropped out of college and his moved into a frat house, my fellow nocturnal trekker became Roommate. It was a title he held until the day we both graduated three and half years later. During that time there were many occasions when one of us would wake up in the middle of the night and proclaim, “donut”. We would then repeat our ritual pilgrimage sometimes waking and gathering up groups of companions along the way. I find myself missing those days. There was something really wonderful about a time in your life when everything could be made to seem better by just walking to the donut shop in the middle of the night.


Blogger Jane_of_art said...

You must be Canadian.

I loved the story, you are a good writer.

29/5/05 11:21 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

30/5/05 1:58 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

I must have a Canadian soul, eh.
Thank you.

30/5/05 7:47 PM  

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