It didn’t take me long to notice that the backbone of college culture is sex. Our time away from home is an opportunity to finally have sex in a bed, with parents no longer being an obstacle and car sex being a thing of the past.
College is the ultimate opportunity to get laid: It’s a schoolwide libido produced from the physical proximities of single and adventurous students, where sex is only a short walk down the street. However, no matter how convenient it may be, there are consequences to mounting your crush from next door.
Imagine a welcome to a new neighborhood that makes your legs shake, body pulse and heart pound — certainly the most intimate of ZIP code relationships, not to mention housewarming gifts. Welcome to Piedmont Avenue, otherwise known as an unofficial “frat row.”
I first became a victim of the vortex of neighborly love last August. This came to no surprise; I had expected to enter a sex-crazed pool of UC Berkeley students upon moving to frat row, of all places. I had heard legends of girls in the past sleeping in almost every house on the block, and I quickly discovered that I would be no exception — after all, casual sex, the walk of shame and friends with benefits are infamously integral factors of “the college experience,” or so I’ve always been told.
My first journey down the block was late one Friday night, bringing me to the eager hands of an older boy. We shared history — that is, if you consider “history” to include crossing paths every day — our homes so perfectly positioned that our walks to class regularly overlapped. That night, our friendly neighborly relationship, defined only by a nod and cordial smile, transformed. Rather than tip my head in his direction — an automatic social cue when walking through campus — I came to know a very different, quite intimate, tip and head.
We hooked up a few times, the unavoidable outcome of weeks of built-up sexual tension. It was always good, never great — but for some reason, he intrigued me. That didn’t mean anything to him and did not save me from the imminent ramifications of a next-door affair: I was still just one of the many girls on Piedmont who would crawl in his bed that week. He was close with a lot of his neighbors — the skin on skin type of close — as were many of us, both recipients and givers of the “welcome to the neighborhood” gift of fucking.
And so, I knew I could only be the new girl for so long. I knew my body was disposable, only a temporary accessory to his masculinity, my self-worth nothing more than his arms around me.
Looking back, his recognition meant nothing in the world beyond Piedmont Avenue — and he wasn’t even that good in bed.
As more eligible girls moved in, he outgrew me like a pair of boxers, used and off-limits to all of his friends; after all, boxers don’t really fit into the “hand-me-downs” category. I stopped seeing his Calvin Klein briefs, and there would be no more walking down Piedmont at 1 a.m. Instead, a new girl would replace me — and, unlike me, she got to stay the night.
As much as I would have liked a clean break — being the bigger person despite his towering physique — he managed to take our once-friendly relationship from sexual to hostile. His flagrant and cruel words got back to me as he openly objectified me in conversations with his friends, that, unbeknownst to him, I heard through the thin walls of his frat house.
Once again he stripped me, this time not of my clothes but my dignity, which made the street between us feel exponentially smaller.
We avoided each other at parties and game days — an easy enough task, if not for the fact that he was still inescapably my neighbor. No blocking or unfriending would change our constant physical proximity. Our concurring walks to class allowed me to reflect on how much I loved our height difference and the smell of his cologne and reminisce on the sensation of his hands on my waist, how they cradled me within his strong and secure frame.
I was forced to discover there was no escape from my sex life, or rather, the ramifications of it. My list of neighborhood-acquaintances-turned-sexual has grown since, and with these increasing advances of intimacy always came the disappointing and inevitable silence. Friendly waves, smiles and small talk turn into awkward avoidance once the sex ends. That’s simply what happens when every person you’ve slept with lives down Piedmont, Berkeley’s most erotic avenue.
I suppose this is what I was signing up for, living on the same street as all of my best friends and classmates, just a walk away from my favorite late-night snacks and coffee shops. Perhaps it’s worth the awkward run-ins, and maybe I am learning to accept the lack of privacy college towns breed — after all, I never plan on living like this again.
Like every other one-night stand, living among my rowdy, horny and impulsive peers is just the beginning to four years of “neighborly love” and sexual exploration.