Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sarah Kaye at Rutgers

Originally written 02/04/06:

All of the discussions of late about the Kaye elders moving to Texas and being near Sarah brought back a pleasant memory for me recently that I wanted to share with my fellow Rancho Marfil members. Around 1979 I was 3 years out of high school and I had just returned to the Livingston College campus at Rutgers in Piscataway. There's always a certain amount of excitement and trepidation at the start a new school year. This time though was different because this was the year that a close friend from the neighborhood would be there too. Sarah was starting her first year at Rutgers on the Cook College campus in eastern New Brunswick.

I had just gotten back from dropping off the van that I'd borrowed to haul my stuff down there and was sitting at my desk looking out the window and wondering how I was going to get in touch with Sarah. Dope that I was I'd never gotten together beforehand to discuss how we'd meet up. Being a freshmen the thought obviously never crossed her mind. She no doubt was dealing with all of the attendant feelings that goes with leaving home for the first time and wasn't aware that we'd be like two islands unable to see or communicate with each other. I on the other hand should've known better.

Thinking about it today I suppose I could've called Mrs. Kaye as she would've known where Sarah was. The reasons I didn't were probably numerous (men never asking directions, no change for the payphone, etc.), but the main one I think was the demon that was sneaking up my arm to sit on my shoulder. It was a time in my life where I was just beginning to understand how to be more social, to curb my negative thoughts, and to swat the demon off whenever I realized it was whispering in my ear.

The welcome letter from the school always included instructions on where to find the dorm assignments and where to pick up one's room key. It also included the obligatory map of each campus at the university. At Livingston that year the location of the room assignments were at the student center. The walls inside and out were plastered with mimeographed pages of the endless lists of every student and the location of their dorm and room number.

That of course was many hours ago when I still had the van. Now I had my car back, I was alone at my desk awaiting the arrival of my new roomie, thinking of ways to contact Sarah, and staring out the window while the demon tried to lull me into a stupor. That's when it hit me. Cook College, being part of Rutgers, probably did it the same way as Livingston, mimeographed sheets on the walls of their student center.

I grabbed the pseudo-map of the Cook/Douglas campus and took off on a new quest. I say "pseudo-map" because as it typical of these kinds of things it wasn't drawn to scale. The roads in and through were not very clear as it's purpose was mostly to identify parking and building locations. Needless to say finding the student center wasn't all that easy and when I got there the walls were bereft of room assignments. A quick inquiry at the coffee shop told me that that Cook probably posted their room assignments at the library, but the student cashier wasn't sure. Off I went again, studying the pseudo-map and picking my way through the byways of the campus to the Cook library.

The lists were posted on the outside on the walls of the buliding and they went round, on the columns, and on one or two bulletin boards. Quite haphazard, but I finally found Sarah's name. According to the map her dorm's location was in a clutch of buildings that had only one identifier so as to which building she was in was anybody's guess. When I finally got there I picked the building I thought was most likely her dorm and went inside.

Past the door was the common room and right in front was a receptionist's desk with a student sitting behind it. This was a new experience for me. Of all the campus dorms I'd ever been in this was the first one with a receptionist. Thinking that since her desk was right in front of the door that meant that I was obligated to speak with her before doing anything else, I greeted her and said that I'd come to see a friend of mine. She responded by saying that I wasn't allowed in the dorm. I asked her how was I supposed to see my friend and I think she said something to the effect that I should have called my friend first so that she could have met me at the door.

As I leaned on the desk to contemplate how I would find my way through this latest obstacle I heard a conversation coming down a hall beyond. The voices were both female and the first voice said something like "...but how are you going to find him, the university is huge" and the other more familiar voice responded with "I don't know but I have to try..." and then when they entered the common room a very loud "JOE!" I looked up and Sarah was running towards me and she gave me a big hug.

Turns out she had been sitting in her dorm room terribly home-sick thinking the same thing I was. What a coicidence running into each other in the common room of her dorm. Had I arrived a few minutes later we would have missed each other completely. Later she told me that the receptionist was only there for the Douglas students who were housed in the right half of the dorm. (Douglas was an all-female college that shared the campus with a very co-ed Cook.) When I stopped at the receptionist's desk she just assumed I wanted to see a Douglas student. Had I just walked past her into the left side of the dorm she wouldn't have paid me any mind.

We walked around the campus, and later drove around to see the sites, just talking and laughing. I seem to recall there was a lot of jumping up and down on her part along with a near constant Kaye grin. I'd never seen anyone so happy to see a familiar face. I of course was very happy too. Having a close friend from home in the intimidating environment of the university was most welcome. In-between classes and studying Sarah and I would be able to share some quality time and needless to say my demon was squashed flat.

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