My college boyfriend was sexy. Magnetic. Women were all over him, all of the time. Not in some of the obvious, conventional ways, like touching him excessively or giggling an unusual amount in his presence. It was more subtle, detectable only in the amount and intensity of the attention they paid him. He captivated people.
He captivated me.
The UCLA campus is divided into Northern and Southern parts. The North campus is stunning. Beautiful, iconic, academic architecture expressed in impressive brick buildings adorn the lush green landscaping, all set against the back drop of an almost always perfect West Los Angeles skyline. Many popular films set at fancy, Ivy league schools are filmed there. In contrast, the south campus is mostly concrete and the buildings are nondescript. North campus is for the humanities: Art, philosophy, history, women’s studies. South campus is where students spend daylight hours analyzing data in basements and doing experiments in labs with no natural sunlight.North campus majors have it made until they graduate without a legitimate career path and have to live in the concrete basements of the beautiful, iconic homes of the south campus majors.
Rak and I were both political science majors, and we spent most of our non-class time arguing and making up on the patio of Luvalle commons, almost as far North as we could get. Directly behind Luvalle is the UCLA School of Law, a u-shape cluster of slightly hidden, average looking buildings surrounding a small patio where law students congregate to avoid undergrads, make weekend drinking plans and commiserate over their painfully privileged lives.
The view of the law school from LuValle commons is unimpressive, and the image featured on the glossy brochures for prospective students is not of tired-looking white kids huddled around at metal chairs and tables. It’s of a dramatic, rectangular, steeple-looking structure that’s mostly windows. The photograph must have been taken at dusk, in the late summer, when the light is perfectly shadowed as the sun sets directly behind the eastern facing building.
The picture is of the UCLA law library. A place law students mostly resent, but undergrads fantasize about. I checked around and I wasn’t the only north campus major to dream and scheme about hooking up in the dusty, majestic rows of thick, heavy books.
Rak and I talked it over more than a few times, but always reached the conclusion that the risk wasn’t worth the reward given out likely future in politics and/or as UCLA law students.
Besides, most of the time we were near the law library together, we were arguing.
5 years after our last, epic on-campus showdown, I’m living out our prophecy as a second year law student at UCLA. It’s Monday, early afternoon, and I’m staring at my list of classes, still feeling like an outsider in my new surroundings. The room location for my law and sexuality class includes numbers, and letters, and the label doesn’t make clear in what building I can find it. There’s a chance my memory is mixed up but I’m nearly certain I just didn’t have this class the first week. Either way, I’m verging on “late” to my first session and I can feel my heart rate quickening as the intensity of my anxiety increases.
Stubbornly, I refuse to ask for help.
With three minutes left before class starts, I desperately ask a fellow students for directions. He points me towards the law library and tells me the classroom is in the basement. I stumble down to the underground floor, make a fortuitous right turn and land in my seat just before the professor starts talking. It’s no more than 72 degrees outside but I’m sweating profusely.
I take quick inventory of my classmates and flash an embarrassed smile when I meet Nick’s gaze. I’m sitting in front of him and to his left. He’s in a chair next to a pretty, olive skinned woman. Persian, maybe. Her dark hair is perfectly curled and she’s wearing what I judgmentally assess to be a bit too much eye makeup for an ordinary school day. I swipe the back of my hand across my sweaty, make-up free forehead and without thinking, smooth out my unruly, frizz-prone bangs.
Our law and sexuality professor appears to be no more than my age. He’s short and thin and impeccably well dressed. Gay, probably, but exudes the type of magnetism that makes him equally sexy to both men and women. I can’t take my eyes off him and hang on his every word.
Rak was like that, too.
Professor Boucai leads a provocative, introductory discussion about law and sexuality and 90 minutes of class time feel like fifteen.It’s an unusually productive hour and a half. I’m engaged, make a predictable contribution to the feminist perspective and determine that the women Nick is next to is likely the type he’s interested in romantically.
“No wonder he won’t give me the time of day, he thinks I’m a frumpy mess.”
When class is over, I climb up the steep law library steps and stare up through the high-rise window panes. My mind floods with memories of my undergraduate self. I briefly wonder what happened to Rak, then adjust my heavy backpack and head home for the day.