An Unlikely Sense of Peace: Greek Park by Patrick Tyczynski

5019 Calhoun St. Houston
TX 77004
(713) 871-8955

April 2004–University of Houston is a commuter school, there’s no doubt about that. It is a challenge to be able to walk down the sidewalks and see the same person twice. I think the only stable occupants of our campus are those pesky squirrels. Everyone just wants to go home after a long day of class, and when they leave they usually have to feel the pains of the great city of Houston ’s construction mess. Fortunately, I am a lucky one, my home is not much further then a couple of hundred yards from all my classes. After a packed day of school work the last thing I would want to do is go and sit in the moving parking lot called I-10. I live in the Bayou Oaks complex right at the edge of campus. This brand new facility that had been brewing in the minds of builders since the 1970’s is known informally as Greek Park .

All I have to do at the end of a long day is to sit outside the University Center for a couple of minutes and the Purple Bus Route comes along to pick me up. At this bus stop right outside one of the meeting points on campus, I think this is the only place that I usually see familiar faces all day. The wait is sometimes too long but never unbearable because there is usually someone to talk to, and of course there is also the knowledge that I’ll be arriving home soon. As I jump onto the bus the all too familiar rap music of a certain driver is cranked up to full blast. I don’t know if the driver realizes it but he’s probably the most popular one on campus for that. He drives the bus as if he was part of a Grand Theft Auto video game, and its hard to stay in my chair as we do a little off-roading in the run down gravel parking lot about fifty meters from my home. From the street, the sentinel of Bayou Oaks stands and its’ face tells me what time it is when I get off the bus. This Big Ben wannabe also serves another purpose as a game winner notification when it shines a scary blood red color, something I hear the University of Texas does as well. Go Coogs! As the max capacity bus empties out its passengers, we file through the main gate into Bayou Oaks and step on the commemorative engraved bricks of past Greek generations. Maybe one day I’ll have my own brick so people will know of my contribution while they step on my name.

Bayou Oaks is a rectangle composed of two sections divided down the middle by a row of housing. One section is made up of only fraternities, the other is almost all sororities and two fraternities and the middle section and the far side of the rectangle are normal residential housing. In front of me are three choices; if I go straight I can check my mail if I would like to, or I could go left to maybe talk to some friends that aren’t in my fraternity. However, I usually just take a left, which is the side with all the sororities and walk around the corner, which is the prime location for a huge chrome grill, towards my house. I am happy to say that I am fortunate enough to be in one of the two fraternity houses that are surrounded by every sorority. First, because of all the beautiful faces I see, and second, because the two houses composed of guys on this side have all the rights to the monster of a barbeque pit. The houses here face toward the outside of the complex, so as I walk around inside this rectangle I am walking by each of the back porches where people congregate on nice days. As I walk this path, many friendly sorority girls greet me on my right and a big open space, which is our flood drainage ditch on my left. I end up on my back porch and see the greatest thing I’ve see all day; an old worn out blue lounge chair. This is the prize possession of my porch; this is a place that I sit at maybe nine or ten times a day when I am not at school or work. Beer stains, cigarette burn holes and a fading blue tint can all be used to describe an old worn out chair that sits on the back porch of my fraternity house. To some it might look like an old hand me down, which it is, to others it will look out of place in its surroundings of wrought iron lawn furniture, columns and trashcans. I throw my books down on the iron table and plop right into the blue cushion and become lost. There is a strange calming sensation that overcomes me I don’t get anywhere else, especially at school. I don’t know why that is, but I feel that there is nothing I can’t do while sitting there. There have been many days of cell phone chatter, all-nighters studying, homework, late nights chats with friends and security guards, cigarette smoking and beer drinking done in that chair. The color has faded, and sure the chair has seen more then its share of occupants that either sit on it or pass out in it half naked. Somehow after years of abuse it has made it so comfortable that I think I would rather take it over a brand new Sharper Image massage chair. It used to have a twin but a couple of bandits ran off with its brother leaving it alone for the lucky person to sit in when outside in a group. If this chair could see and speak it would definitely tell an endless supply of stories including who stole its buddy, however it cant so the images it sees get passed on too me as I sit in it and watch the different personalities of Bayou Oaks.

As I am sitting down I start to notice everything around me in another way. Maybe this is because unlike the rest of the day I am not rushed, I can just sit and relax. All my friends are right behind me and all my other cares such as school and work are far away it seems. Taking a look around I notice the trees that have lost their leaves because of the winter time and then wonder why the others right next to them still have a full coat. The drainage ditch to the left, once richly populated with grass, became an off-roading pit that one night people performed the timeless art of the donut with a golf cart. The complex forms its own little rectangle inside a bigger rectangle here filled with peace and serenity. My side of the complex is usually quiet, since people are usually in class most of the day and because there are only two fraternity houses here. As I sit in my chair I can sometimes hear commotion coming from the other side where guys all grouped together often come across quarrels and I am glad I don’t live over there. In this peaceful little rectangle of mine, the buildings are about three stories high and when I look up all I see is a little rectangular patch of sky. For some reason when I sit in my chair and look up through the columns, I always see a clear blue sky, never a cloud, as if the sky also agrees with me of how peaceful my little area should be. The only thing that seems out of place in this mood is the trash lying around. The janitors usually clean up pretty well, but on weekends I can see the remains of the previous nights parties on the ground as well as in the overflowing trash bins that are stationed in my peripheral vision.

There is a different atmosphere at Bayou Oaks when night falls. The scene gets livelier with people walking from house to house, people getting ready to go out and others throwing parties on random nights of the week. It may seem that all the peacefulness of the daytime is lost at night, but when I still sit in that aging blue chair it will still cover me with serenity. There are people going in and out of the door that’s to the left of me constantly, sometimes they will be sitting on the chairs to the right of me, it doesn’t matter while I sit in the chair I am in peace. I’ve noticed that I can even get jealous of others lounging in it, while I must stand or sit on uncomfortable wrought iron furniture. As I sit in the chair during a party at my house directly behind me, all the guests walk through the door to the left and I have the perfect spot to greet friends, make new ones and be the first person a pretty girl will see as her night starts.

There are people who disagree with me about the way life is at Bayou Oaks. Some say that this place has too many rules; others hate the horrible parking system that the owners have installed here. Once in a while I might find an article in the Daily Cougar that trash talks about our dear Greek system. There have been complaints from the residential housing occupants, which are the minority in this Greek Park . It really isn’t that loud here and I can testify for that because from my look out post onto the property I don’t see too many cases of rowdiness. True, there are the times when it gets a little crazy such as on Halloween, but that’s to be expected of the Greeks. The people who don’t like where they live because it’s too loud should have realized the style of housing they were moving into. Mr. Lee who is the Student Relations Director here on campus shot down all those false claims. The parking system here might be bad, the rules are there, its going to be loud, but people this is college and what else can they really expect. I have found me a nice resting place outside of my house, its calms me down and maybe that’s why I have my peaceful observations of life in Bayou Oaks. Every one who doesn’t agree should try to find their own spot for serenity and maybe they would enjoy it more. My chair sits outside twenty-four hours a day all year. If it has been a long day of school and relaxation is what you seek, come to the porch with the single blue chair and sit in it. I might become a little jealous, but then again I will probably find a new friend also. Whatever happens, do not steal it, without this calming device; I will hunt any thief down.

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