Underhill is back! Conveniently located between two dorm complexes in Berkeley, the field holds many fond memories for me. It was a green expanse that always greeted me when I peered out my seventh story window. Sometimes there were soccer games, other times lacrosse. And often, there were coeds jogging around its perimeter, freshmen determined to avoid the dreaded “freshmen 15.”
Speaking of jogging, It’s where I ran my (one and only) six minute mile, high off several cups of espresso! And yes, I had a witness, my cafe pal–ah how times have changed: he still drinks coffee, I can’t drink caffeine anymore. But we are still friends. It’s where my freshman year roommate and friends would gather with our cups of late night espresso (from Caffe Strada!) for our many study breaks (somehow the study breaks outnumbered the study sessions).
We laid there on the soft astroturf, many nights, looking at all the windows in the dorm, the high rises lit with light and fervor. Was that a woman changing out of her top? Was that a couple making out or–? Yes, our observations were highly sexualized. And besides, the silhouettes of studying people were not very exciting conversation fodder.
We’d look at the sky. We’d wonder what the meaning of life was (remember, we were eighteen years old and had yet to give up on that quest and recognize it as a hypothetical question). We wondered what we’d be when we grew up. We philosophized. We dreamed. We wondered what would happen if we fell asleep out there.
It was the setting for such diurnal young adult outings, the kind of setting replete with romanticism, drama, and nostalgia–the kind of setting that would make it onto film, if my life were replayed on the silver screen.
But then it got demolished, sometime before my graduation. I was sad when it was gone–I had many happy memories of that astro-turf field atop a parking garage. The remaining concrete girders and twisted pieces of rebar sticking out in the wreckage, the gaping hole in the ground made me even more nostalgic for the setting (and I love nostalgia–I live in the same college town over a decade later). It looked like the wreckage of our youth. They took it apart rather slowly, an agonizing process–if my memory serves me correctly, it happened my junior year, when I returned to that particular dorm complex as a resident assistant.
And then, all I had of Underhill was in my memories.
What a welcome surprise to see it back.