You were never my first choice. When I transferred to Rutgers in Fall 2012, I was confused as to how we wound up together. Nevertheless, we were made for each other. Ever since my first night, I knew I belonged in this unruly house of youth in revolt. I never felt cool until I met people who boldly embraced others as they were. We were the rawest blend of rude kids with sweet hearts who popped cigarettes like candy and burned the trash of racist, sexist, homophobic society. Our sequins and glitter sparkled against the pavement on the nights we got too drunk, but never sick enough to tolerate misogyny and other sins for a second. Amidst the flames, we spilled stories of heartbreak, tales of cheer, and looked at each other in the eyes, breathing with a collective pulse of transparent understanding. Though I despised the grimy staircases and heinous carpeting, I was endlessly fond of the gritty hearts found in you; eventually, every corner housed someone I trusted and considered a friend.
Something in the air geared us towards the political, the fashionable, the vulnerable, the offensive, the artistic, and the strange. It was where I was introduced to social justice concepts and their underlying branches: feminism, rape culture, white privilege, “queerness” and deeper aspects of the LGBT experience. All these conversations had planted seeds that allowed me to grow into stronger political and personal identities. I remember being in the study lounge with two of my friends who had never even met, as it was getting later, distracted from my studies by an intriguing conversation we were having related to women and gender. I tried to bow out of the exchange right as we were getting more interested and involved to return to my studies, until one of my friends said gently, “Isn’t this also a major part of college? To have these inimitable conversations about important abstract matters of absolutely anything?” I had finally felt accepted and rooted into the existential spheres of university and perplexed by the infinite reality of ideas spurred and connections made. Moreover, I will always remember the moment Obama won re-election in November 2012. We all gathered in the basement anxiously awaiting the results, and once they were announced, we collectively hurrahed with spirits full of hope. I cheered to myself as I looked around at the generation I was so immensely proud of– people fueled by the promise of changing times and open minds.
Living in Demarest eased my transition into adulthood whilst never extinguishing the chaotic and fragile element of brazen college fun. It was the first and only place where I felt comfortable enough to unleash my inner ratchet bitch for all to see. In this kingdom, I freely twerked, called people “betch,” wore makeup, shared my art and writing, and stayed up until morning creating memories I could never forget with people I will always appreciate. I tend to make embarrassing life choices, so thank you for never judging me. Thank you for your never ending Brower trains and for always making room for me when it looked like there wasn’t. Thank you for your patience every time I fell in love with a hot guy in Brower. Thank you for introducing me to alternative music and thought, essential tea, Hipsterism, and Christmas light magic. Thank you for the monthly coffeehouses that gave me something to do on Thursday nights besides eating take-out vegan nuggets because I was rarely ever “thirsty.” Thank you for continuing to be brave in your polarizing, sometimes notorious reputation when many unfairly debased you. Thank you for constantly surrounding me with beautiful minded individuals who were free to chat and philosophize at any hour of the day. Ultimately, thank you for helping me feel brave in my weirdness.
As my beloved and irreplaceable home, I ask only one thing: please keep your doors open to all, and remember to let EVERYONE be who they are, not only those who fit a certain shade of “different.” I believe in an inclusive Demarest that strives for jolly times for people of all backgrounds and I pray you live on as a legendary community that wholly celebrates peachy love, fizzy dreams, full acceptance, and unique identities. Whenever I write my future novel, I promise to mention you at least once, à la Junot Diaz.
A (still) wide eyed Demarite navigating the “real world.”