House of Five

“You’ll be living with 2 people from Trails, and 2 from Resource Management,” says my supervisor Deirdre through an email. I hadn’t finished school yet at this point and my internship was a distant thought of the future. Later on that was changed to 3 people from Trails, and 1 from Resource Management. On June 6th, I anxiously knocked on the door of House 261 with two suitcases and a laptop bag, my only belongings for the next 10 weeks. A tall, dark girl opens the door. “Hi, I’m here to move in or something,” I say. “I’m Victoria.” She introduces herself, “I’m Pricilla. You’re sharing a room with me.” I look around the house and I see it is adorned with large Indian mandala tapestries, a banner with the famous quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and a statue of Buddha sitting atop of the wood stove. Books and maps are all over the tables and chairs, and guitars decorate a corner of the living room. My first impressions of the house were that this was not a temporary government housing unit. This was a home. “Most of the stuff is Mike’s. You’ll meet him later,” Pricilla explains. In the background, I see a tall gruff-looking guy with blond hair that matches his big blond beard. I’m promptly introduced. His name is Ben, he’s from Nebraska, and his voice matches his appearance. He’s initially intimidating, but he’s very welcoming. Later on that night, Mike arrives. He’s an older gentleman of 50. Short, stout, and equipped with dreadlocks and a bright big smile, he reminds me of Humboldt, my home for the better part of the year. Ben, as well as Pricilla and Mike, are on the Trail Crew. A couple weeks later, the last roommate arrives and his name is also Mike, but he’s the physical opposite of the older Mike who lives here. At 6’5, Mike – who we renamed Aloysius (or Wishy for short) for sake of convenience – towers above the rest of us. While there are 5 of us making for a fairly snug house, we all enjoy each other’s company and get along well, despite the ample room for error in terms of the amount of people in our house and our varying personalities. In an area without internet, all that’s left is time for conversation. My family may not enjoy the idea of me being assigned to live with complete strangers, but my housemates are far from that: Pricilla is like a big sister to me, and I won’t forget the nights we sang along to Spanish rock while we cooked a Mexican dish for everyone; Ben, who is physically akin to a blond Jesus, enjoys talking about video games with me despite looking like a person who’d prefer to plant crops. He listens to everyone, no matter their story, and is always level-headed in his conversations. Mike is a beacon of positivity for our household, and reminds us to look at the bright side of everything. With him, I won’t forget how he motivated me up a 2.5-mile uphill hike to a beautiful lake. And Big Mike (Wishy) never fails to make anyone laugh with his great sense of humor as well as a great taste for food and music, but my best memories with him are playing cards and beating other teams at trivia night. I dread the day when I will have to say my farewells to them all, and will miss our nights of conversation and familial cooking, but I hope that we will cross paths again in the future. For now, I enjoy my evenings talking and joking with them all about anything and everything. They have been my biggest mentors in terms of working with the park service and have always been available to me to offer advice about hiking, climbing, and backpacking. I didn’t know it the afternoon that I got Deirdre’s email, but I know now that I have the best housemates of the season.  

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