was hypnotically deep in my readings when there was a knock at my
door. "Come in," I called without raising my head. The door
swung open and hit the wall behind it with a shuddering bang.
the self-proclaimed "walking distraction," stood in the
doorway without entering, her full, flame-colored hair highlighting
her pale, serious face. "Five hundred dollars round-trip Chicago
to Paris. Pack your bags, ladies. We're leaving the country tonight."
She spun on her heel and returned to her room without closing the
weeks later I returned from a weekend at home to find another dramatic
pronouncement on the wipe-board outside my room: "Join the Surly
Girls' World Tour Spring Break 2001." I snorted, unloaded my
luggage, and hurried to get dinner before the dining hall closed.
Meredith was on her way out as I entered, and her face took on an
even more smugly feline aspect than usual when she saw me.
you talked to Amy?"
looked even smugger. "Talk to Amy," she intoned with a Jedi
the closed-lip smile and the Jedi hand gesture. "Talk to Amy."
this have something to do with the note on my board?"
eyes to one side, she demanded in a slightly higher voice, "What
laughed. "Oh my gosh, it does. Where are you planning on going?"
laughed again. "Have fun."
You're coming with us."
right. I can't afford that."
this is why you were supposed to talk to Althoff! She could make it
sound reasonable. Talk to Amy. Talk to Amy." She waved the hand
grabbed her arm, and, clutching my tray with the other arm, dragged
her into the dining room with me.
I'd been gone, Meredith had been surfing the Net instead of reading,
and she'd come across a $250 round-trip airfare to London on Virgin
Atlantic for the week of spring break. She'd told Amy, Nora, and Amber,
and they had all decided that the opportunity was too good to miss.
They'd researched hostels and museum admissions and figured out that
the trip would come to $1,000, including airfare, a stay at a hostel,
food, and sightseeing.
You don't get it. You're coming too. Rachel Anne, $1,000 is really
cheap for a week in London."
sure it is, but I only have $52 in my bank account right now, and
I need to pay tuition and buy books." Meredith had some savings,
and Nora's parents were willing to pay. Amy and Amber had savings
they hadn't had to use because of scholarships, but I was struggling
to make ends meet with my job at Telefund, grants, and loans.
interrupted. "Can your parents help?"
no. I wish I could afford to help them. I mean they aren't in trouble,
you get more hours at work and save up before spring break?"
$1,000. I'm already working as many hours as I can, and you need the
money for the plane ticket soon, right?"
suggested selling my nonexistent valuables. Meredith told me to hit
up my grandparents. Amy, the pastor's daughter, resident master's
assistant, and Community Service Center employee, suggested that we
hold a bake sale in front of Cobb.
thousand-dollar bake sale?"
could have a bunch of them. Or-we're all creative. We could sell scarves
raised my eyebrow.
that evening Nora and Meredith burst into my room after house meeting.
"You're going to London. We're blackmailing Zeke," Meredith
Zeke! It doesn't count!"
stepped toward me. "Rachel Anne, I respect your morals, and normally
I'd agree with you, but it's Zeke! I mean, this is the guy who was
standing under Meredith's window an hour ago yelling 'Show us your
Meredith chimed in. "It might even do him some good. Teach him
Zeke [name changed to protect the guilty], a.k.a. "Cancer man,"
"Candyman," "The Camel," "The Cigarette Smoking
Man," had announced in house meeting that his parents somehow
hadn't found out yet that their son smokes two packs a day, so he'd
appreciate it if no one called him by any of his nicknames or "er,
mentioned my other extracurricular activities during Parents' Weekend."
will not go to London on blackmail money."
They trailed out.
noon the next day I felt I'd finally convinced them that I wasn't
going to London. I would be overjoyed to live vicariously through
my friends, but I simply couldn't afford the trip. They needed to
buy the tickets on Tuesday, so the question had to be settled by then
evening, I returned from work to be greeted by Amy and Meredith. "We
need to talk," they said, pulling me into Meredith's room.
I can't go! I'm sorry. Come on, you know I would if I could; I've
never even been to Canada. I yearn to travel, I just can't afford
up. We talked to Pam," Meredith said. Pam Bozeman is our fabulous
Resident Head. "She understands that you need to leave the country,
and she's willing to pay us way more than our lazy asses are worth.
If Amy and I split a job at her consulting firm, she'll pay us $500
by March, so all you'll have to come up with is the other half."
stared at them.
she said you have to have your parents' permission; she won't send
anyone under 21 out of the country against their parents' will,"
do you still want to go?" Meredith asked, almost meekly.
nodded. I laughed. I screamed. "We're going to London!"
We cackled maniacally, then all spoke at once, interrupting each other
and, I'm sure, driving anyone within half a mile running for earplugs.
met lots of crazily fun people here, and I've had a wild four years,
but that evening, without a doubt, qualifies as my most memorable
U of C experience, something I try to hold onto when the rest of the
world seems bleak.
Anne Dion, AB'02, an aspiring writer and globetrotter from Wheaton,
IL, hopes to work in publishing or education.