“My lifestyle dissolves fake smiles. It can be heartbreaking if you aren’t ready for it.”
Two or three weeks ago, I entered my apartment around midnight to find the couch occupied by a bearded stranger. He was asleep, sprawled sideways and snoring loudly, and none of my housemates appeared within eyesight. As I reached over his torso to adjust the thermostat, I briefly considered dialing Public Safety. Instead, I located one of my housemates, Carey Gilchrist ’13, and whispered my demand: “Who’s that dude on our couch?”
“Oh, that’s Lina’s friend Riel,” Carey explained. “He sleeps in different places every night or something. So she offered him our couch.” “Oh,” I said. “Wait, that’s pretty awesome. Would he be up for an interview?”
Riel ’14, a junior majoring in Film and Computer Science, was gone from the couch by the time I awoke the next morning, but later in the week I ran into him in Weshop, where he was stocking up on eggs (“I gotta eat at least six a day, need the protein”) and canned beans. He explained that he had adopted something of a vagabond lifestyle at the beginning of the semester, crashing at friends’ places and refusing to make use of his assigned room in 1 Vine. “I’m trying to be the change I need to see,” Riel told me. On most days, he carries around a camping backpack and a sleeping bag. His lifestyle is controversial, but his reasoning has an oddly circuitous logic to it: If he’s already paying all this money for room and board, shouldn’t he be free not to use it?
I asked Riel if he would like to be interviewed for this blog. Sure, he said, just so long as I didn’t publish his last name or a picture of his face. And could he boil some eggs in my stove while we did the interview? I consented to his demands, as he did to mine. This is the conversation that took place.