Running The Halls : Lake Lanier

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9:00 pm– Fridays at black colleges are sort of like Mardi Gras! I never experienced it first semester, because I had early classes, but now that I had a late class (class was at 3:00), I realized why people only had class from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. After RJ, Dawn, Teresa and I decided to skip our Friday class, we headed towards Teresa’s parents cabin. We piled into the Chevy Suburban that Teresa’s dad had rented for the weekend and made our way to Lake Lanier. Teresa said that everything was taken care of at the cabin, her mom and dad had fully stocked the fridges and supplied jet skis for the weekend too! As we pulled up to the compound that was “supposed” to be a little cabin in the woods, I was amazed! Teresa could’ve warned me that her parents had a 5 room cabin with an amazing kitchen, a HUGE living room with a fireplace, and a tennis court! We ran around the cabin like we were on “The Real World”, trying to decide which room to pick for the next few days! Teresa and I picked the bigger of the two rooms that were on the second floor. We threw our bags on the floor, did a quick change into our bathing suits and hit the lake!! Teresa looked like “Halle Berry in Swordfish” in her bikini! (“Wow” was the only word I could use to describe it) RJ and Dawn screamed from the kitchen, “Come on down here, lovebirds!!” We decided to make sandwiches and just chill for lunch. It was decided that the ladies would make dinner and the fellas would do dinner on the last night. RJ was commented on how he didn’t trust Dawn’s cooking. I laughed. She threw a piece of bread at me and said that she’s Puerto Rican and her mama taught her how to COOK! She then said something in Spanish and walked away from Teresa. Teresa just looked at me, laughed and walked away trailing behind Dawn. RJ and I stayed in the living room watching “300”, while the ladies were in the back sunbathing. RJ and I decided to stop watching the movie and go mess with the girls. We filled up water balloons and started throwing them from the balcony! The girls were PISSED! We laughed for the next three hours!!

      3:00 pm – RJ and I were out at the lake when were heard Dawn scream, “RJ and Khalil!!!” We took off back up the hill and into the front door. RJ looked at me and just shrugged. “Go get your girl.” He said. I ran down to the carport to find Teresa arguing with Josh. (how in the heck did he get here?) Teresa was yelling at Josh telling him that she didn’t want to be with him and she was happy for the first time in her life! Josh was pleading with her and kept asking her to come back to him. She told him “no” about 100 times and then grabbed me and walked back to the cabin. Teresa said that if Josh didn’t get off of her property, she was going to call the cops! Josh took one final glance and hopped in his Escalade and drove off. This really didn’t help MY situation/issue with him. Joshua spent the next couple of months eye balling me, trying to break Teresa and I up, and trying to fight me! (He was acting very “Gator-ish” from Jungle Fever)

        6:00 pm- After avoiding the police and starting to really enjoy ourselves, we decided to BBQ out by the lake for dinner. The ladies had dinner for the first night and they did a great job! RJ and I ate like “kangs” as my Uncle Chucky would say. The rest of the weekend went off without a hitch. We played board games, cooked for the ladies (badly), went on the jet skis and partied and watched movies, played practical jokes on each other, and had the opportunity to get away from Wayne for the weekend!


       12:00pm – We packed up our bags and headed back to Wayne. Dawn was in the front seat on the way back, because she and Teresa had to talk about “girl stuff” and because we had lost a bet over the weekend. RJ and I sat in the back and talked about sports and the two lovely ladies in the front seat. (Without letting them know)

2:00p.m. – We arrived back on campus, and to our surprise it was actually still pretty quiet for the weekend back. After unloading the truck, RJ and Dawn made their way to the entrance of the dorm, while Teresa and I sat in the truck and talked for a few minutes about the events of the past couple of days and about the upcoming week. ( I think I was starting to like this “having a girlfriend” thing.)


 9:00 pm – It’s been a few months since I’ve had the opportunity to actually write in this journal. Here’s a quick re-cap of what has been going on. RJ and Dawn are still together. They have had some rough spots, but they always work out their issues and end up “hugged up” in RJ’s bed or in the common area of the dorm, looking like newlyweds. They really are a cute couple minus the times when Dawn starts cursing RJ out in Spanish and RJ withholds BBQ from her when his mom sends a CARE package. I just sat back and laugh at them and told them that I wanted an invite to the wedding! RJ told me on multiple occasions that I’m the best man and to not plan anything for 2017! (I just shrugged and looked at my calendar when he said it). Dawn had started working with Dean Soto on a project trying to get Justice Sotomayor to come to Wayne, but it wasn’t coming fast enough for her and so every day like clockwork she would send a letter to the White House and the Supreme Court pleading with President Obama and her to try and get them to venture to Wayne. One thing about Dawn, she was persistent.

       RJ was still focused on making “power moves” in regards to getting himself away from being a superstar athlete; he wanted to be known for something more substantial. He was making so many strides in order to be a lawyer that football was the LAST thing on his mind! He was still being harassed by the Athletic Director to attend Spring practice. RJ’s mind wasn’t on football. Maybe his mind would change maybe not. We would all have to wait and see. I already knew the answer and I wasn’t telling anybody anything!

   Teresa and I are still doing quite well. Our relationship had gotten to the point where my mom didn’t call to speak to me anymore, she called to speak to Teresa and I was a secondary thought. I was no longer ducking and dodging Joshua. He had gotten over himself and was no longer trying to “Sho-Nuff” me. Teresa and I were doing great.

    Oh, I almost forgot about “The Dragon Lady”. She had toned down her “rants and raves” due to the fact that no one had spoken to her in about 3 weeks. She was still slightly pissed at Dawn for “stealing” RJ, even though RJ made it clear that he would slit his own throat if he EVER dated her! (again, I laughed when we talked about this stuff all the time.) She was still just as annoying, but she was a little more tolerable now than she was before!

    We had gotten to the end of second semester and I felt pretty good about what had happened during my first year at Wayne! RJ and I had been holed up in our dorm room along with our “girlfriends” (it no longer sounds weird to say) studying for finals. Surprisingly, the girls kept us focused on studying (as hard as that may have seemed)

     RJ and I had one last final before we were officially no longer freshman at Wayne. We took that final and raced to our room in order to catch our 1 o’clock flight to NY to begin our summer vacation.

   1:15 pm –  As I looked out the window of the airplane watching Atlanta get smaller, I realized that I had grown up a lot this year. I mean, I developed a lifelong friendship, I conquered being away from my parents,  I met the love of my life (seriously) and I no longer was scared to walk around campus in fear for my life! I really have to stop writing in this journal.


Running The Halls: Chapters 3 & 4 ..

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Chapter 3: “Enter the Dragon”

“He–“ , I tried to say as the door swung open violently knocking over the box that was holding up the leftover CD’s yet to be put away, I saw her. “Vanessa Grayson,” R.J. would proclaim. “RayShawn Johnson”, Vanessa said very coldly. As she quickly shuttled herself into OUR room, behind her marched three other people, who I simply referred to as the “black-tourage”! Vanessa was every bit as privileged as R.J. had explained. She had an air about her that was that of a princess in her castle! As I closed the door, Vanessa looked at Dawn like she was Superman using his heat vision! R.J. then took it upon himself to ask the question that everyone was dying to ask. “What the heck are you doing in my room?,” R.J. proposed. “I’m just here to find out what exactly Ms. Rivera has been telling you about me.”  R.J. then said, “First of all, when you come into someone’s place unannounced you INTRODUCE yourself!” Vanessa would simply wave at me and say “Ms. Grayson”. She truly was an “ice queen” at our very first meeting. After we moved past the awkward stages of our meeting, RJ, Dawn, and I watched as Vanessa told the “black-tourage” to go upstairs and finish unpacking “her belongings” before they had to be back at the Grayson family compound in Decatur, Georgia. RJ never told me that Vanessa was sooo beautiful (he said she looked like Cole from “Martin” in a dress!) It was utterly ridiculous how GOOD she looked! (I imagined this would cause a tremendous amount of problems if I had voiced this at the present time) During our “short” conversation (it lasted 3 hours), Vanessa decided that it was in her “best interest” not to involve herself in any altercations the first week of orientation! So, as a group, we decided that Dawn’s side of the room could be whatever color and design she wanted and Vanessa’s side could be whatever she wanted it to be! After avoiding “Roommate-Gate”, Vanessa would make her leave in a huff, due to the fact that she ultimately did not get the opportunity to do things HER way!! RJ would coin the phrase, “the Grayson way”! RJ, Dawn, and I decided that we needed to “decompress” from the nights events, so we decided to drown our “sorrows” in more chicken and even more soda!! ( this would happen frequently during our freshman year, I definitely understand where the term “freshman 15” comes from!) It was during our “chicken-tervention” that I began to see RJ and Dawn’s relationship blossom. They started asking all those “in depth” questions that first dates ask, like, “how many boyfriends/girlfriends have you had, what’s your favorite color, television show, sports team, type of food, etc, etc, etc…it was during this line of questioning that I came to the realization that one, I was going to be the 3rd wheel in this group unless I found someone QUICK and 2nd the image of me with all of RJ leftover girls was evaporating right in front of my eyes!! (Damn you, New York!) Fresh off of our first incident with the “dragon”, not only was I tired, but extremely intrigued by what was in front of me! *PAUSE*

 After waking up too early to even remember, R.J. and I met up with the “Hatfields and McCoys” aka Dawn and Ms. Grayson in front of the Quad   as we headed to the Watkins United Chapel to begin the process that would make us “official” Wayne University students. (along with the other 400 incoming freshmen!)  In case you missed it, I go to an HBCU, which means “expect the unexpected”! No, seriously. I learned this lesson the hard way when first entering the Chapel to begin orientation, where I mistakenly stepped inside the “mystic orange square” that supposedly would determine if you would graduate from Wayne or not! (for some strange reason, I assumed studying and hard work would do that, not some funky old square in front of a chapel!) So, after I was almost thrown out of this square, R.J. and I found seats for the four of us. Vanessa and I were forced to sit next to each other since “Bonnie and Clyde” were now becoming the hottest ticket in town! (Arggh….this further distorted my plans of total future night club domination) It was here that the “4 Horsemen” would come into contact with Dean Soto. We patiently waited as Dean Soto marched to the podium bearing the insignia of Wayne University. As she started to speak, Dawn inched up closer in her seat (this was another relationship that would surprise me). Dean Soto would invite us into the fabulous world of Wayne. She told us that the next four years of our lives would help us determine where we wanted to go with our futures! She also explained that Wayne was the best school in the country and they were part of the “Black Ivy League”. It was at Wayne however, that we would get the insight, perspective, determination, and knowledge in order to move our society further and get this generation into the highest places and positions in government, science, education, and social/public policy. After we sat through the remainder of Dean Soto’s speech, I was pretty empowered (along with the other members of the incoming class). The first day of orientation was pretty uneventful. We sat through more lectures, got introduced to “The Gate” at SellMon College, which basically was like the Berlin Wall, until we got our “golden tickets” also known as our campus ID cards!


Chapter 4:“The Underground Railroad”/ “Hell Week”

           A FEW DAYS LATER

8:00 A.M. – Have you ever thought you were having déjà vu? Waking up at 8 has never felt so TERRIBLE! I’m starting to realize what the farmers in the MidWest go through: waking up EARLY, working ALL day, and starting it all over again every day! I say that because RJ and I had to be up at the crack of dawn (dawn starts at 8 in ATL)  due to the fact that we had gotten to the last few days of Orientation before we actually started classes , we had approached  what the upperclassmen called “HELL WEEK” ( which was only actually 2 days!) As we approached the “Centre” to what was our 2nd to last meeting, we saw Dawn at the front of the building looking kind of perplexed. I asked her what the problem was. She was holding a piece of paper given to her by one of the upperclassmen that had been milling around the Centre. “What is the Underground Railroad?” RJ and I looked at each other and laughed. “You don’t know what the Underground Railroad is?” RJ said. “I know what is it, but that’s not what they are talking about?”  I took the paper and read it, Wayne Orientation Committee presents “BLACK LIGHT: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!” *wear comfortable clothes and freshman/ freshwoman ONLY!* I’m sitting there holding this paper and im immediately becoming concerned. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’m not one for anything that involves the punishment of African Americans! (This is the part where RJ slapped me in the back of my head) After handing back the paper to Dawn, we found seats for what was actually a pretty interesting meeting. We found out that we would be receiving our official I.D. cards (this meant entrance into SellMon, YESS!) We also found out that we would be having “the official welcoming party” at any HBCU…A BLOCK PARTY!! (It wouldn’t be a black college without a party…trust me, I learned this the hard way)  After leaving our meeting, RJ, Dawn, and I decided that before we had to be back on campus we would make ourselves familiar with the city of Atlanta. Sidebar: Have you ever been to a NEW city and seen stuff that you would have NEVER seen at home?  Well, this happened to me on the MARTA heading to the Lennox Square Mall. I’m on the train, and like I’ve said previously I’m from CT., so  I don’t see too much “freaky” stuff that comes directly in front my face! However, on this particular ride, I saw about 4 dudes get on the train with FINGERWAVES and skinny jeans! (not that I have anything against men that actually do that but, I’m just saying!) So, we get off at the station and walked up to the street level. As soon as we exited, I could smell Southern BBQ among other different food as we crossed the street to the massive Lennox Square Mall. Once inside, I felt that I had been transported back to CT. (well, minus the fingerwaves and baby back ribs smell wafting through the air condition climate). Well, minus the smells, we enjoyed ourselves. We found all the stores every college student needs (Foot Locker , the pre-requisite hip hop clothing stores, and the Food Court) After our “mini-tour” was over, we headed back to campus to try and figure out what “THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD” was all about! (and believe me when I tell you, we definitely weren’t ready for this!) After, getting back in the dorm, RJ and I decided we were going to start asking questions in regards to this “Underground Railroad”. There must be a code at every college in Black America, because every time a freshman asks a question around here, the upperclassmen act like your looking to escape from SLAVERY!! Anyway, I left the questioning to RJ, partially due to the fact that he knew more upperclassmen than I did, hell, the only upperclassmen I knew wanted to KILL me! and he was getting more respect from random people, so I  let R.J. play detective! After he did his best ‘CSI: Atlanta’ impersonation, he came back with the scoop on what to expect. “nothing”, RJ said casually. “What do you mean ‘nothing’?”, I said puzzled. He would explain that none of the upperclassmen would speak because it was something that was an “unwritten rule” at Wayne that these “initiations” (if you will were to be kept secret) So, as we (Dawn, RJ, and I) sat and waited, we were left to wonder what was actually going to happen. And then it did.

After beating up on RJ in Madden 10,( 63-14, 22-10 respectively), we received a knock on the door. One of our Orientation guides, Cedrick was on the other side of the door. He told us to put on the blindfolds on that he was carrying. He proceeded to march us out of our dorm, to the field adjacent to the football stadium. It was here that we would begin the “Underground Railroad”! Ced told us to take off our blindfolds and we were shocked by what we saw! Every freshman from every school was standing at the far ends of each part of the field, it was here that we would learn more about the mystery of this event!  Ced was handed a bullhorn and then motioned for all of us to quiet down. Everybody eventually brought down the noise levels and Ced began to speak. “You are the future of our great institutions and in order to understand where you’ve come from….we present to you, “the Underground Railroad” Wait. I know what you’re thinking. Black School. Black People. Football field, full out party right? wROng. The Underground Railroad was a series of events amongst the freshman classes of each institution, to build camaraderie and a sense of unity. Ok, again I was kind of  struck by two things: 1. we had to do all of these events at 10 pm at night and 2. Where in the hell did ALL those fine Clark sisters come from? (lol) As, we were given a tshirt with our schools emblazoned on them, the orientation leaders began a chant,” I’ve got a feeling, I’ve got a feeling brothers , I’ve got a feeling, somebody’s trying to get at Wayne!!” we were asked to respond as if we had been in a Baptist church! (even some of the dudes who were openly gay were chanting, yelling, and screaming like they were about to play the Patriots in the SuperBowl) The winner of this “Underground Railroad” competition would be recognized at the HomeComing celebration that Fall!! So, ALOT was riding on us doing well! Let’s be clear about one thing, I’m not athletically gifted, I mean, I’ll do just fine in a pickup game of bball and at most physically changing events, but you won’t catch me on Sundays playing in MSG or on the turf at the Georgia Dome. I just tried to avoid getting hurt and seize an opening when I could. So, imagine if you will almost 1,000 college kids running around on a football field trying to outdo each other for the sake of recognition at schools that they hadn’t even attended a semester at! (don’t worry, I thought the same thing!) To make a loong story short, Wayne University’s freshman class will be recognized during the annual Homecoming weekend festivities!  Keep in mind, I was running behind RJ the whole night, so I consider it a win, win!! After we had gained our freedom via the “underground railroad” (which turned out to be a series of puzzles, mazes, physical competitions, and the “crown jewel”, a big game of football in a HUGE mudpit!)  RJ and I dragged ourselves back to the dorm, smelling like grass, dirt, sweat, and covered in mud! Just when I thought it was over, I remembered that the first day of classes was in 5 hours! Great and me being the genius that I am picked an 8 o’clock class! Argh!!! I’ll see ya’ll in the morning!