I was living alone the fall semester of my junior year at San Diego State when a couple of old high school friends called to tell me they’d transferred and were renting a one-bedroom near campus. Foolishly believing that after my two years at SDSU I knew anything about the local scene, they asked me to take them to a fraternity party. I knew there were frats around, including an entire row of them somewhere. What concerned me more was how grossly they’d overestimated my penchant for alcohol and socialization. I hadn’t changed much since high school. Sure, I’d gotten my beer-pong shot down but aside from that, not much had changed. Slightly crestfallen but ultimately undeterred my friends took action by inviting every girl on their floor to join them at a frat party, figuring the house would let us in if we arrived with a few females. All 15 girls were let in, but the rest of us boys were denied entrance. “We’re at fire-capacity,” the most handsome of the bros said as he closed the door behind him. We’d either made the mistake of trying to get into the most responsible frat on the West Coast or we’d just been played. Back at their apartment, we promised ourselves we would live the rest of 21 on the edge. We became engaged in a restless game of self-destruction and abandonment. I’m not sure whether we ever found the borders of our- selves we so longed to discover, but we tried. Perhaps we were afraid of the ordinary. Scared of living the same lives we’d always lived. Even more so, I believe we knew once it was time for us to move on from state, we’d understand our leaving wouldn’t matter to anyone. That terrified us. Although none of us had known it, we’d decided to sacrifice our youth as collateral for a sense of glory never known. That night, we toasted to a pact — a pact of honor, of duty. This was our time and we were going to seize it. A few hours and a few toasts later I awoke shivering on the floor in a nest of someone else’s dirty laundry, avoiding the socks and boxers as much as possible like a rat with no shame. Why hadn’t my friends brought a change of sheets with them and who’d left all the windows and doors open? Where was my glory? We survived off dehydrated noodles and Costco rum, spend- ing more of our funds on the latter because as my buddy Steve so eloquently put it, “There’s only so much Top-Ramen a man can eat.” We signed up for the flag- football intramural league, hoping to attract the attention of the girls who’d ditched us. Fittingly, we lost every single game. Eventually, we resigned to a semester of drinking with those girls who would never mistake us for potential romance. We’d naively fallen in love without the possibility of getting it in return. We suffered and became more graceful losers because of it, even if we hadn’t met the expectations we set for ourselves earlier. We were, at the end of it all, just another inconse- quential group of guys trying to find our way, failing and giving up too easily. That’s why we fell short. We’d promised ourselves a future hap- piness we most certainly weren’t deserving of, pouring our faith into a just and objective universe, one that was, I can now admit, unfairly skewed to our own point of view. Soon I realized that at least one of our beliefs was always true; the universe never takes sides and rarely spits out an advantage for you. Even so, it’s best to believe in the chaotic. Sometimes unbe- lievable things do happen, even if that year was shamefully predictable. Unlike the old me, I now try to be prepared for that moment, sleeping on a mattress with clean sheets and avoiding cheap liquor whenever possible. I know when I wake, I’ll be a little closer to the “me” I always wanted and deserved to be.