Let’s be honest: Being assigned a double in frosh quad, especially in a B, C or D entry, is not an ideal living situation. By not ideal, I mean that the average frosh quad double affords less individual living space than a minimum-security federal prison. I kid you not – look up prison regulations. We do have common rooms and Cribs-worthy flatscreens, but this luxury does not entirely obscure the fact that, as a whole, frosh quad doubles are the worst housing on campus. However, with every grim thunderhead of housing migraines, there is a silver lining. As the old adage goes, uncommonly bad conditions yield bonds of the closest nature. The adversity of the intimate housing experience can draw roommates together. It can create entire suites with an almost cultlike flavor of camaraderie.
In Willy C, there is just such a pair of roommates. Kaison Tanabe ’13 and Gabe Lewis ’13 are a special breed. Their entrymates exchange looks when asked about the illustrious duo. The consensus response to queries about their undeniable chemistry seems to be, “they were made for each other.” When faced with the obstacle of their minute room, they drew on their distinct interests to give it real flair.
Lewis, who hails from California – or as he would tell you, “I’m from NorCal, it’s really a different state” brings the outdoors in. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis could not part with scenes of past hiking glory. Posters of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite pepper his side of the room, taking places of honor above his unbunked bed. Tanabe is, perhaps, the more domestic of the two. He brought with him an extensive collection of very impressive photographs that exhibit his artistic side. The photos are arranged gallery-style on his side of the room. Despite the split decoration motif, the décor sends an immediate message of familiarity and introduction – far from just an uncoordinated mash-up of incongruous personal effects. From only a brief five-minute jaunt into their “man cave,” I came away with a real sense of Lewis and Tanabe as people.
A room is not merely the adornments on the wall; it is the sum of many more nuanced parts. Lewis and Tanabe recognize this, and have taken steps to truly make their abode unique. On the ceiling is a work straight out of MASS MoCA. Seeing glow-in-the-dark stars as too pedestrian for their tastes, the roommates have artfully carved orange peels pinned above the beds. Like all great art, this work has inspired controversy. Some entry-mates see the sculpture as mere “garbage.”
I eat junk food, watch bad movies and cannot tell you the difference between Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston; but I am a connoisseur of sleeping comfort. I have long debated the qualities of the perfect bed and, therefore, resolved to test Lewis’ and Tanabe’s interpretations. Lewis is very proud of his memory foam mattress topper, and I will say that it works wonders. Tanabe, not to be outdone, has cobbled together a hodgepodge of pillow-y delight. Again, I hesitate to come down on either side.
Due to the aforementioned space limitations, there is only so much love that the roommates could impart to their individual quarters. Seeking greater outlet for their innate decorative creativity, Lewis and Tanabe have made their common room the envy of Frosh Quad. In the words of Tanabe, “We wanted a chill space that was equally conducive to study and to hang out on a Friday night.” Desks are comfortably placed behind what can only be described as a party nook. The suite has arrayed a strobe light, a surround-sound system and comfy furniture for a distinctly loungelike feel.
When the actual room and the common area are combined, Lewis and Tanabe have achieved the impossible. They have made a freshman double into a positively enviable living space. While Lewis and Tanabe are beacons of hope within the Frosh Quad, I would stress that they are the exception and not the rule. One may admire the creativity in Willy C, but spare a thought for those huddled in tiny little rooms, awaiting room draw with the knowledge that it could not get any worse.