I’m pretty sure I’m one of very few people who has actually met their freshman year Resident Graduate Student. I’m even more certain that I’m one of very few people, who, now a junior, is actually still close friends with his freshman year RGS.
DJ Bozym, a fourth-year chemical engineering graduate student, and I have nearly nothing in common. A junior English major, I still have no idea what chemical engineering actually means, despite his multiple attempts at explaining it. I vaguely understand he thinks solar power is cool, and maybe that’s what he spends his time on. I’m not quite sure. When I revealed to him I have never taken calculus, he responded, “How did you get into Princeton?” Conversely, whenever I talk about the alienation techniques of Bertolt Brecht or the performative quality of gender, a glazed look comes across his face that suggests he might be regretting ever starting the conversation with me in the first place.
DJ and I met at his first “meet your RGS” study break. Like most Princeton students, I have a desperate urge to seek approval from my elders, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to derive such validation. I tend to live my life under the assumption I’m only a few sassy zingers away from being loved, but DJ wasn’t impressed. He was more interested in people that seemed “nice” and “genuine,” or whatever.
A few months into freshman year, DJ revealed that, whenever I spoke, he “never knew what to say back” and that I made him “very uncomfortable,” but that didn’t deter me. We would be friends. My two best friends and I made very regular trips to his apartment to watch “Glee” and steal baked goods, and, slowly but surely, our love of Rachel Berry and pumpkin bread brought us together.
An ongoing problem in our friendship: I’m a hugger; this makes DJ very uncomfortable, but he’s learning.
DJ is the old man that lives at the end of the block, the one that won’t give you your ball back. I am the kid that won’t stop playing on his lawn, who, through a surprising turn of events, comes to befriend the curmudgeon. We gossip about the drama in our lives. When I need to talk — and I’m the type of person that needs to talk a lot — he’s ready with tea and freshly baked macaroons. It’s really nice to talk to someone who’s at Princeton but isn’t wrapped up in undergraduate life. Plus, there’s always free food in his room. I am wont to appear at his door at 11 p.m., ready to hang out, just as he’s ready to go to bed. Sometimes he tells me to get lost. Most nights he indulges me.
I think DJ feels the age difference — six years — more than I do. From time to time, I sense a bit of a protective spirit emerge from him. He’s the first to tell me when he thinks I’m making a mistake, usually citing some life experience of his own. I like it. He’s like the older brother I never had growing up.
DJ picks on me a lot. He’s called me “disgusting” on more than one occasion. It’s OK, though, because I tell him he’s going to die alone. So, we’re even. It’s not that I know he’s kidding. I’m sure DJ really does think I’m just a little bit disgusting, and that’s totally fine because I know he’s there when I need him.
As far as DJ dying alone: As long as he keeps buying Oreos, I’m not going anywhere.