Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dorm Room Karma

One of the few things in college that I seriously dreaded was the annual Housing Lottery. Held at the end of the academic year, you and your roommate were subjected to the anxious anticipation of having your housing for the following year be determined at the whim of fate. I never knew where the number came from. Was it pulled out of a hat, the roll of the dice, or one of those ping pong balls being suctioned out of those air machines? It was a mystery. And, unfortunately, for two years running, my friends and I had the bad luck of having bad (high) housing lottery numbers, which meant living on the far end of campus. We desperately wanted to get a 6 person suite for our senior year, but there weren't a lot of them to go around, and a lot of our fellow juniors also had entered the lottery for those rooms.

I was taking an introduction to Buddhism class that semester. I was extremely interested in the religion, and I had become fascinated by karma and its different properties; in particular, the fact that good actions can draw good karma towards you for future goals or intentions. So, with that in mind, I came up with this plan that I would go around making good karma (by holding open doors for people, letting people go ahead of me in line, and just being a generally positive person) and would focus the intention of this good karma I was "accumulating" on getting a good (low) number in the housing lottery. My friend RECK went along with this plan, quite possibly to humor me, but it really couldn't hurt our changes. We didn't broadcast that we were doing this; we just went along our way, trying to incorporate this behavior into our routines.

The morning that the results of the housing lottery were posted, I was in the student center doing my Latin homework while having my usual late breakfast of coffee and a bagel. I anxiously ran through the translation exercise halfheartedly, checking my watch at regular intervals. I wanted desperately to see the results, but at the same time, if we drew a high number, I really didn't want to face the disappointment of not getting a suite. The time of the posting came and went, and I reluctantly picked up my backpack and headed down to the floor where the list would be.

There weren't many people there at the time, so I was able to look at the list without an audience. The list was split into men's and women's, and starting from the bottom of the list, I scrolled my eyes up. Well, we weren't at the very bottom; that was a good thing. That meant we had a strong chance at actually getting a suite; maybe not the best suite, but a suite all the same.

But where were we? We weren't in the middle either. Huh. Well, maybe we would get one of the better suites. When my eyes finally hit the first entry, number one on the list, with the first choice for a six person suite (because girls go before boys), I finally came across the names of the people in our group. Not only were we actually going to get a suite, WE HAD WON THE HOUSING LOTTERY!!

There may have been a shriek and some jumping up and down, but my memory is a little cloudy on the details after that. I know that I ran to one of the campus phones (in the pre-cell phone era) and started calling all of my future suitemates to tell them of our good fortune. Most of them were in class so I left voice mail messages for them, and when we got together at lunch, we celebrated the success. JeGilde went to the housing office and got floor plans for us to make our selection, and we did end up checking out a couple rooms in person before making our pick.

In the end, we picked a corner suite on the first floor of Alumni Hall, which became our senior year home, not just for ourselves but for a lot of our friends as well. I have so many memories of fun in that room: watching "Days of Our Lives" or the OJ Simpson trial at lunchtime, dancing on the industrial/indestructible furniture, playing cards, Jesuit "roasts", Sauce & Frank's ongoing B.F. Skinner debate, post-party debriefs, the contraband Christmas tree, the "Egg & Sugar" boys, the freezing cold study room/the blasting of the heat, B.Ricca's top ten voice mail lists, mac and cheese in the hot pot, 100 "screaming lemons", listening to music, talking about life and always having the door open to anyone who wanted to pop their head in. In the end, was it karma, or was it just luck? I prefer to think that it was karma, good karma that we built on and carried through that year in that room with our friends.

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