Is this thing on?
[The screen comes into view. A little shaky at first.]
Oh hey there!
Funny seeing you here - in this vast internet instead of under the fluorescent lights of Zellerbach or in the blissful expanse of Blake Garden.
You know, endings make me think about beginnings. Remember the day we met? Dressed in our best, shyly slinking about, imagining bright futures?
Oh, don’t think I didn’t notice.
Come on, you know what I’m talking about.
The window desk! You know you were eyeing it. I saw you crab-walking sideways, “casually” putting your backpack on top, elbows akimbo in your fighter stance. Real subtle.
Okay, okay, I did it, too. I can see us now, teeth bared, each waiting to claim our rightful spot. Of course, we were destined to the desk lottery (Berkeley’s infuriating nod to fairness), but we didn’t know that yet. How young we were. How foolish. Bright young things just waiting to be groomed into …
You know, the desk gods were not kind to me. In fact, I spent much of my graduate education next to the trash cans. (Though never in the dreaded ‘desk-by-the-door’).
[Alex shakes his head]
Until third year, that is, when they shone down something fierce.
[Begin stock photo montage: grassy hills, redwoods, brutalism, windows]
I had two window seats this year with enviable views of the Berkeley Hills, the redwoods nestled in Wurster’s northern armpit. “Truly a dream,” I thought. “How lucky I am,” I said. “I have what we’ve always wanted”
Victory sure tastes sweet.
[Enter coronavirus, stage left.]
Greetings from home, where the desk gods have shone on me a third time, albeit with a heap of dramatic irony. I find myself in a truly spectacular window desk (a laminated-bamboo model from Ikea). Outside, a sun-lit palm waves in the afternoon wind.
The taste of victory! Only, it’s bitter this time. I wish I could swap all my desk luck for …. well …. you.
If you’ve sat next to me, you know that my desk overfloweth. The mountains of trace paper march right up to the edge of my desk before they spill (softly!) onto yours. But now, perhaps, you too would rather have my waterfall of paper than your new desk. I hope so. Because you are my crowning grad school glory.
I’m blushing now, but there you go. I said it. I’d give up my window desk. I’d do it! But only if I could sit next to you. We’re all leaving Berkeley having learned different lessons, forged different paths. But for me, dear viewer, dear friend, Berkeley has been about you. I’m grateful for the things I learned from you, whether about vector linework or Chengdu Style, theory or friendship. Of course there is much work to be done; I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see how you'll do it.
[Sitting at her window desk, she sheds a tear before clicking “Leave Meeting”]