If you picked a scab off my face

They are probably typical college experiences, but all of them together felt like happy delirium for me, as crazy and loving as accidentally picking a scab off your friend’s face.

“You have some pie on your face.”

“I don’t think that’s pi—”

“Here, let me get it.”

“Yeah, that was definitely a scab.”

It was the end of the summer — we bought Brandy Melville dresses, picked flowers around the neighborhood and went into the city to eat some pie. Amid this frenzy to celebrate our summer ending, Annalise leaned over and plucked the tiniest scab off my face, revealing a speckle of blood. This friendship moment, both endearing and loopy, is representative of my time at UC Berkeley.

To experience a frenzy is to attend college at UC Berkeley. The combination of my experiences have been whacky in one word, exhilarating in another. As many UC Berkeley students do, I’ve experienced fervor in many moments, not only for celebrations but also through times of struggle.

On election day, I remember how sunny it was when I walked to the Units and started interviewing people for The Daily Californian. One girl told me, jokingly, “If Trump wins, Berkeley will not be okay.”

Fourteen hours later, I was running behind protesters walking down Telegraph Avenue in the middle of the night. They marched six miles all the way to Oakland, and in an effort to keep up my reporting, I followed them, even as they walked onto the ramp for Highway 24, eastbound, and unsuccessfully tried to block off the freeway.

Yeah, this was a frenzy. The disappointment and despair created a sort of madness, complete with tears and chants. While I was devastated, freshman Malini felt so epic, so cool for following that protest. Four years later, though, I probably would have just gone home.

While I stopped romanticizing the temporary excitement that accompanies protests, the excitement of our daily production nights remains with me, whether it was stapling the corners of papers as a prank, celebrating Audrey for winning two chip bags from the vending machine or freaking out about the family of racoons walking home alongside me through campus at 1 a.m.

The furor to report was quickly replaced by biology and organic chemistry, a whole new set of beasts. I remember how Revati and I spent seven straight days in Kresge Engineering Library last year, bearing with the stench of unwashed students and the lack of natural light. It’s in Kresge that I spent five hours drawing and redrawing amino acids; it’s in Kresge where I ducked under the railing to avoid eye contact with my ex-boyfriend; it’s in Kresge where I snuck in latte after latte to keep up the energy to keep studying. While it was painful in the moment, it’s those crazy moments that represent what I love about college.

My frenzies of friendship are what I am most proud of though. The people who I am closest to were seamless additions to my life. Sahil got me with his mad chana masala skills, and Maisy with her beautiful studio that became my home. Days after meeting, Caroline and I went to Oregon together. Revati sat next to me in the Daily Cal office, Annalise and I accidentally watched “Sorry to Bother You” together and Elle and I bonded over a sandwich. Once strangers, they snuck in easily and quickly, but planted their roots and provided me with the kookiest moments.

We hosted a Keanu Reeves-themed night, where we were too distracted to watch more than one movie. We drank literal gallons of tea. We shopped for clothes and shopped for plants and then shopped some more. We threw a “Dress as your favorite Nick”-themed party. With each of our setbacks, there came wine and ice cream. For the wins, there were dinners at Burma Superstar, rounds of Super Smash Bros and trips to Raleigh’s.

Quarantine has thrown me into the deep end of postgraduate life. Sitting in my hometown, I already have nostalgia surrounding my UC Berkeley memories. My graduation is technically May 15, but the craziness of my college career seems far and out of grasp. I miss the frenzy and also the routine.

Funk night was the last night I can remember that was fun and normal. We all dressed up: I wore Maisy’s top, Annalise put on Maisy’s makeup and Elle put on a jacket. We argued about whether or not to take the bus, as we walked to the Starry Plough. Honestly, the scene when we got there was just all right — but when we started dancing, cliches were rectified and we had a great time.

Maybe all of this isn’t quite unique, chaotic or frenzied. They are probably typical college experiences, but all of them together felt like happy delirium for me, as crazy and loving as accidentally picking a scab off your friend’s face.

Malini Ramaiyer joined The Daily Californian in fall 2016 as a news reporter and was the lead city government beat reporter in spring 2017. She served as assistant news editor in fall 2017, city news editor in spring 2018 and culture and diversity arts beat reporter in spring 2019. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in public health.