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Long lines and lasting bonds

Story by
Clementine Zei, left, and Anna Zheng, right, revisit the spot where they became friends on the first day of cherubs. Photo by Christina Lin

One of my greatest fears is being crushed alive. On Day 1 of Cherubs, I got a taste of what that might be like.

The 30-person line to connect our computers to the printer extended from the packed lobby to the game room hallway. The noise was overwhelming, with thundering footsteps in the stairwell and raucous chatter bouncing off the walls.

Settling at the back of the line, I was a honey-trapped fly. Everyone seemed like best friends already, and I had no one to talk to. But the girls beside me looked just as uncomfortable, so I introduced myself.

I met Sabrina and Clementine, my next-door floormates. Now, three weeks later, Clementine’s quirky one-finger waves greet me each day, and, between our coffee quests and movie binges, I’ve shared with her the most vulnerable parts of myself. In Sabrina’s perpetual kindness and penchant to sob to Taylor Swift, I found the strength to love things openly. All this came later, but, in the printer line, we understood each other the way old friends do within minutes.

After an hour, we made it into the lobby. With our combined body heat and the tight squeeze, it was as hot as the sun-beaten sidewalk outside. The line moved impossibly slowly, and, eventually, every cherub sat cross-legged on the floor like superfans camping for a concert. Yelling into each other’s ears, sharing water bottles and exchanging numbers, we were a community for the first time, sitting in the hall that day. Walking in, I was afraid of getting crushed, but after meeting my best friends, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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