Published online Dec. 19, 2017. The following was written in response to Rocco Papalia ’82’s Voices essay, “The Zoo Wants You,” about his freshman year in 121 Dodge-Osborn.
Picking my Princeton roommates was easy as I entered freshman fall. That is, everything was decided by the University’s algorithm. As the time came to select a living selection for 2017-18, however, I became nervous. How would I muster the audacity to approach someone to ask if they would live in a dorm with me?
Luckily, I had friends with initiative. My understanding of the process as it progressed flowed through Ben, who always has his ducks in a row. So, on room draw morning, he was the one to whom I sent the text: “Did we get it?” The affirmative reply came quickly. We had won the game of chance, and the Zoo was ours.
By “we,” I mean 10 young, foolish, restless, motivated Princetonians. We were all connected in one way or another, but most of us only knew four or five of the other students well. Like the Zoo of 1978, we are heterogeneous to a comical extent. A sextet of internationals put together with a Californian, a Midwesterner, a Southerner, and the pride of Connecticut, Kapil, means that there is no shortage of difference or intrigue in the suite. Vanya’s Russian exclamations bounce of the walls, while Daniel twangs Brazilian melodies on one of several communal guitars. In a sometimes confusing twist, we have Hong Kong’s own Eliot Chen as well as Welsh sensation Elliot Davies. Our most common feature? Probably our shared propensity to procrastinate in the common room. Additionally, to balance out all the concentrated testosterone, we somehow became blessed with a half-dozen mutual female friends who frequent the Zoo. It is always a pleasant pastime to guess just who is knocking on the door.
This unofficial fraternity (ZΩΩ) is a reservoir of camaraderie. Friendships quickly coalesced in September among the newly acquainted, and we have found ourselves to truly enjoy each other’s presence. With so many around, it is never hard to find someone who is ready to grab food from the dining hall or make a midnight run to the Wa. Whenever academics, extracurricular activities, or personal life tosses you around, there is a soft pillow of fellowship upon which to rest your head.
We have not performed any deed so daring as those described by Rocco Papalia ’82, but moments in the Zoo are never dull. An early semester game of Cards Against Humanity helped us discover Gabriel’s talent for dark humor, and there is the unceasing saga of meme generation that fills our Facebook group chat. We took the Orange and Black Ball by storm, and there are plans to put those aforementioned guitars to good use at the next inevitable Dodge-Osborn kitchen-induced fire alarm. To Sandun’s delight, we managed to gather the entire group for a five-on-five game of Zoosketball, and subsequently formed an intramural team. Moreover, Juston has plans to issue a friendly challenge to the freshman below us, either to a basketball game or some other competition.
As we prepare for final exams, we will find time to reflect on the fortuity of our circumstance. Our inheritance of the Zoo has gifted us all with a princely home, and we will take good care of it all the way through the spring. Rocco, to you and your Zoomates, we say thank you for the brilliant name — and the spirit that has lingered in the air of this hallowed residence.