It is a Thursday evening and as I walk my finicky bike down El Colegio I can see and hear the sirens of an ambulance driving down Camino Del Sur. I wonder to myself if my host Pat can hear this, too, from his place.
Berkshire Terrace is not too far from Studio Plaza, where I stayed about a week before. It is located at the end of a cul-de-sac heavily lined with parked cars. I look for a place to lock my bike and notice the signs posted, reading the following:
Pat welcomes me at the door and I immediately plop myself onto the futon couch. Both he and his roommate Wen sit at the small side table, and we start asking each other questions. Pat asks for some clarity about my research project and I explain to him that I'm simply trying to get a sense of people's living situations in IV.
I go between both Pat and Wen about their stats and backgrounds.
Pat is a third year and he is 21 years old. He is also a student at UCSB and has taken art courses to fulfill his interests and visits his parents and family in Thailand every summer. He shares a one-bedroom with Wen, who is a second year and is transitioning to Psychology after having had a bad experience with his former major in Economics.
Wen also grew up in the LA County area. He's 19 and an only child, but has lived with his parents and grandmother. He is currently involved in his fraternity and prefers to stay around IV. Thus, his visits home are now less frequent.
The reason why they both decided to move to IV: "there's more freedom." Wen quickly responded, "I wanted to get out of the dorms."
On the other hand, Pat has lived in IV since his freshman year at the same apartment in Berkshire Terrace. His mom wanted to find him the best deal for a living situation and helped him locate this apartment.
I draw out individual packets of Pocky sticks and salt water taffy. The boys are taken back by my gesture and Pat tells me this is unnecessary.
Pat likes to treat his guests to a card game. Not only is Monopoly Deal "a quick game, where you always win on your first try" he says, "it's also a great way to socialize with people."
After a 15 minute run of the game and trying to pick up the rules as I go, I miraculously win.
I continue to go between conversations and questions to Wen and Pat, who are now looking at two different things on the opposite side of the living room. Pat asks me for some brief input to one of his drawing assignments.
Later, he shows me past drawings of his and explains one of his hung paintings on the wall. I can tell that Pat has had feelings for each of these young, pretty girls as these images are fairly direct representations of them.
Pat reveals to me one of his fondest memories of living at Berkshire Terrace, which was his friendship with one of his past neighbors. When his mom made residential selections for Pat a few years back, she met a young Thai girl, who was an international student at UCSB. The two had a good conversation and Pat's mom had asked her to help "take good care of Pat." The two have been friends since, and though she has already graduated and moved back to Thailand, Pat still keeps in touch with her.
I can see how Pat doesn't want to find any other place than this to live for the duration of his college career. In fact, he and Wen have already signed their renewal lease to live for another year at Berkshire Terrace.
The time draws close to 1am and I realize it's time for me to rest. Pat helps me unfold the couch, which he admits, only his mom has used a few times as she has been his only guest up to date. Wen heads to their bedroom while Pat pulls out a spare blanket for me and turns off the light.
4:40am - I wake up to the sounds of a few girls' voices. I can't make out what they are saying, but they are loud, giggly, and stomping their way upstairs of the complex.
6:36am - I wake up bleary eyed, but to the sounds of a dumpster truck beeping its way and mechanically lifting a dumpster. The noise doesn't leave for another 10 minutes or so. I silently groan to myself.
7:15am - I am up and have enough sensibility to try and fold the couch back to its original place. I make sure I tidy up after myself and remember to place the pillows back to where I found them, fold up the blanket, and leave with the doorknob locked behind me.
The following week I run into Pat on campus. I thank him again for letting me stay over and ask how he and Wen are doing. Pat tells me that he's never seen his roommate hang out and socialize with guests until my visit. He was pleased to have seen his roommate participate.