You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for the holidays.  This past Saturday we swung up to Milwaukee in order to watch a Marquette basketball game (we won!) and see some friends.  While passing through Marquette’s campus I reflected on my 4 years there.  The further back I went with my memories, I realized that my college career did not start how I wanted it to.

Carpenter and Straz (dorms)
Straz Tower (left) and Carpenter Tower (right,  both are dorms)

When I was still in highschool, I was hard set on attending Marquette.  Maybe a little too much though, as until my parents forced me to apply to two other schools Marquette was the only university I had submitted an application to.  My dad went there, and I had visited my cousin Mike who is three years older than me.  I was ready to bleed blue and gold, and I wanted to do it in the dorm best know for it’s freshman engineering floors, Carpenter Tower.

But there was a problem, I couldn’t just choose to live in Carpenter, I had to pick my top three dorm choices and hope I got in.  Carpenter was my number one choice, and I’ve honestly forgotten my second two choices, but I know for a fact that McCormick was not any of my choices.  Weeks later I received my dorm information, and I ended up in……..

...the one place I didn't pick
…the one place I didn’t pick

McCormick Tower!!!

Or as many students like to call it, “The Beer Can”.  I was also placed on the ‘diversity floor’, which was definitely an interesting experience.  I was, by far, the most un-cool kid on that floor.  While I was studying for computer engineering classes, or playing a few rounds of Halo, the rest of the floor was usually busy partying, playing basketball, or playing really loud hip-hop music.  Don’t get me wrong, they were all really nice guys and extremely friendly, but we had vastly different hobbies.

There were also a lot of nice girls on the floor above me.  It was awkward at first, as I had always had a hard time talking to girls in highschool.  I was lucky though, as all of the gals on the 8th floor of McCormick were not only kind and friendly, but were charismatic and easy to talk to.  My social skills grew by leaps and bounds that year, and I made friends that I still talk to today.

While I wasn’t unhappy, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  I wanted to be with fellow nerds on the fourth floor of Carpenter.  I wanted a geeky roommate with whom I could make jokes like, “I wish I were your derivative so I could lay tangent to your curves.”  I had to get my nerd fix whilst at engineering classes in the Olin and Haggerty Engineering buildings on campus.  I met a lot of great guys, and they quickly started inviting me back to Carpenter with them to work on homework, projects, and study for tests.  There were a few critical moments that changed my life for the better.  One of them was when I started hang out with Phil and Shivam, and we collected a huge amount of SoBe bottles.  The other was when Matt invited me over to his dorm room, The Cave, to work on some homework.  It was there I ran into Jim, who to this day remains one of my best friends.

It wasn’t the first time I ran into Jim though, we had an English class together.  It’s hard to describe how he looked in that class.  Take an Irish heavy-metal rocker, dress him in all black (including black denim jeans!), add in a dash of college home-less-ness, and remove any possibility or hint of a smile from his face.  That was Jim, and he looked like the kind of guy who would stab me in an alley.  It probably also didn’t help that I rolled into our first class wearing Heelys.  Yes, the shoes that five year old kids wear at the mall and slide around on.  And yes, they make them in a size 12 for men.

I would have stabbed me too

Upon walking into The Cave and seeing Jim sitting in the corner, smile-less, shrouded in darkness, my first though was, “oh shit, he’s got me trapped now.”  Thankfully Jim turned out to be extremely nice, and only had a rough exterior.

I become close enough to a number of the C4 guys (as they were commonly called), they started inviting me to spend the night in their rooms, crashing on a floor or couch.  There was a catch though, as Marquette requires all guests to be checked in, For overnight guests you need to fill out a pass, and you are limited to a certain amount per month.  The solution to this was simple, I hopped from room to room each night and slept at Carpenter.  It happened so often that I was even considered an honorary member of their floor and was invited to their post-college get together.

Being forced to skip from room to room forced me to become friends with a large number of people.  All in all I think it turned out for the best.  I had experiences I will never forget, I made lifelong friendships, and I obtained social skills that will last me a lifetime.  No, college didn’t start out how I wanted it, but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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