college years

A Letter to Parthenon


That’s what I saved him as on my phone.

People come and go a little bit too easily. You can call anybody your friend, but to have them stick around and/or leave a deep impression on you is a rare occurrence to come by. Many people, you meet and forget. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then there are the other ones, the people who are deemed irreplaceable. As the years pass by and your contact list grows from inches to yards, you end up realizing that, no matter how many other people you meet, some are truly one of a kind. Just goes to show that what they say in kindergarten has at least some adequate truth to it: 1). People are special in their own unique ways, 2). No two people are alike, and 3). It really is a small, small world.

Parthenon, as I shall call him in this post, was someone I’d met for a short fall semester in my History of Architecture class. Our seats were assigned next to each others’, and I found him invisible for practically the first month of classes until I took notice of something.

As our professor would be going through the different landscapes and ancient Mediterranean sites, he’d ask the class if any of us have actually been to these places. More than a few times, the stranger next to me would raise his hand. He quickly became “the guy who has been everywhere”.

I still didn’t feel the need to talk to this stranger however, simply because I was in no real mood to, until I found out that he was easily acing the weekly quizzes that our professor gave us, while I was doing only mediocre. Competitive instincts kicked in, and before I knew it I was making conversation with the guy for the sole sake of my grade. The two of us unexpectedly made a pretty good team though, and we ended up being called “The Golden Corner” by our professor because the both of us held such top scores.

It’s funny how conversations grow. I like thinking back to first meetings, because I find them so significant. For all of the reasons in the world, you ended up talking to this person, and it is a 50/50 chance as to whether or not a conversation will turn into something more than just measly small talk. I was lucky that with Parthenon, we had plenty to talk about due to our similar interests in history, and I liked hearing his stories about his many travels while being in the military, which was the reason why he knew so many of these prehistoric sites in the first place.

Semesters are short and academically, I would be grateful. But socially, the end of a semester can also signify the end of friendships, meetings, or in my case, an unexpected alliance. Parthenon was never one to stay in one place for long. He told me that he was used to moving around a lot, and if anything he enjoyed the change in environment from time to time. I still remember the last conversation I had with him, us standing in front of the architecture building, the sky growing dim in early December. It was a goodbye, one that symbolized the end of a friendship that was so short-lived, one that had great potential to grow.

The guy who sits next to me in the summer class that I’m taking right now actually reminded me of Parthenon in small ways, but you can never truly make up for the original archetype. Parthenon was very distinct in his manner, bold and impressionable. You know someone has made quite a mark on you when you meet someone who reminds you of them, even in the smallest of ways such as age or height, maybe even the way they speak.

Sometimes, when faced with people who remind me of the friend that I had so shortly, I would wonder where he is and what he is doing now. Probably going on some type of adventure, or working his butt off to get the degree he’s always wanted. What’s hard for me to accept is that, even in a world so small, I will most likely never see him again. Even if we did somehow miraculously run into each other, it wouldn’t be the same. We’d bonded so well because of our classroom environment. What would we be without it? All I can do is hope that he is doing well.

If you were wondering, I call him Parthenon because that was his favorite monument out of all of the ones we studied. He’s even been there. I believe he did his final comparison paper on the Parthenon vs. Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple. Mine had been Gobekli Tepe vs. Stonehenge. Interesting stuff, memorable class. One that still sticks to my mind to this very day, even after a year has passed.