Suntop


This is a version of the old “stranded on a desert island” game. I’m pretty sure it was my friends Tilke Elkins and Kyla Wetherell who invented it. It was a popular conversation for a while back at Suntop.

If you could eat only five species for the rest of your life, which would they be? You get spices, salt and water for free. You get the species that you choose in unlimited quantities, fresh, good quality–perfectly ripe, if applicable. You also get everything that species makes. If you choose cow, for example, you get the dairy products that come from cows, their meat, and whatever else from them you might want to eat. (Brains? Some folks eat cow brains, right?)

Here’s the list I made back when we first played it. I’m considering revisions, but I still think it’s a good list. What’s your list?

oats

salmon

porphyra (the kind of seawead nori is made out of)

cherries

blueberries

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I was reading in the library on campus a few nights ago and thought, “It’s getting late–about time to go home.” Then I realized that I was picturing the bus ride back to my old home, Suntop. I used to live in Springfield with a bunch of close friends. Now I live on my own in a studio in Eugene. I like a lot of things about my new space–how I’ve arranged it, my kitchen, the back yard–but I’m homesick for Suntop and my friends. I feel like a monk or one of those guys in the fire-lookouts in the mountains. Isolated. I’m busy, so I don’t think about it a lot, but being busy is part of the problem. I’m too busy to just hang out so I don’t call anyone.

If you know me, give me a call. I probably need a break from reading and would love to hear how you’re doing.

I’ve lived at the house we call Suntop for six years now, and I’m still living with the remnants of the community I helped start at our first house, Big Bertha, in Eugene, in early 2001. It’s been an amazing eight years and four months. I’ve grown a lot through it. I feel sad about leaving. I love it here, being so close to my dear friends, Tilke, Nick, and Joe, the Willamette River so close, the running trails, the woods, my bike-trail commute to school, the green property, the beautiful house, room for my office, my demo studio, my dance floor. This place and these people were a big part of the reason I applied only to the UO for graduate school. I never expected to live anywhere else in Oregon.

Perhaps I should have. When we moved here, I insisted on an upstairs room. I’m such a light sleeper, I couldn’t imagine being able to get to sleep with people walking on top of me. At that time, there were only two upstairs bedrooms–the sunny front room, that Tilke wanted (and it was she who was buying the house), and the master suite, with it’s own bathroom and everything. It seemed outrageous that I would get that room, and I said so, but there was a strong consensus that we liked the house and that it was acceptable that I lived in the fancy room. We were even splitting the rent evenly at that time. It probably helped that I was going to share the space with my girlfriend-at-the-time, and would for the next three years.

Six years later, the community is mostly dispersed. (Marriages and breakups, mostly, plus a dash of failure of leadership–probably the undoing of most communities.) Tilke is married, and I’m still living in the master suite of her and Nick’s house. What had seemed like extravagent space and privacy when we moved out of Big Bertha is now uncomfortably close quarters for them. Tilke asked me to leave about a month ago. It was super hard at first. I still felt ownership of the house and what is left of the community. I’ve gotten used to the idea now. Some friends have been encouraging me to leave for years, now, some mildly (“Nathen, you are always the one to hang on. You should consider letting go.” -Maya) and some not-so-mildly (“Nathen, get the hell out of there. Get out of Oregon, too. That place is doing nothing but reminding you of hard times.” -Evan).

I’ve found a good place to live. It’s in Eugene, close to downtown, the best health food stores, music venues, and campus. I’ll be closer to a lot of my friends and family–Gabriel, Maggie, Grace, Mo’, Vangie, Miriel, Akira, Jessica. I haven’t seen nearly enough of them, living out here in Springfield. I hope to deepen my connections with all of them in the next couple years. I’ll be living in a studio attached to the house of one of my main dance partners, Emily Aune. I don’t know her well, yet, but I have long suspected that she is great and that we could be close friends. She is easily in my top five of fun people to dance with. She’s thoughtful, smart, creative, and hip. She’s a botanist, native-plant enthusiast, gardener and a co-counseler. I’m looking forward to getting to know her.

I recently attended a lecture by Adam Galinsky where he presented evidence that assimilating into new cultures makes people more creative. Maybe it comes from a widening of the self-image. I left that lecture thinking maybe it was time I live somewhere else. I like moving. I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve moved as an adult: Redding, San Francisco Bay Area, Joshua Tree, Maui, Eugene, Springfield. I love coming back into contact with each possession and reconsidering it. I love how being in a new space brings back into focus each thing I do and each way that I am, so I can reconsider. This is going to be great.

Suntop in Bathtub

Suntop in Bathtub

These are the people I live with. And the dog. When this photo was taken, Kyla Wetherell lived with us, but she missed the shoot. She has since fallen in love and moved out. I miss her. We have two cats, now, not pictured. They are probably nice and definitely reclusive but they don’t make up for Kyla. Anyway, left to right, we are Joe Dillon (student of engineering, writer), Luna (pug, lover of fluffballs), Kat Reinhart (student of developmental neurobiology, cyclist), Nathen Lester (student of psychology, dabbler), Tilke Elkins (artist, author), and Nicholas Walker (inventor, programmer). I’ve known almost everyone here for years: Joe the longest, for nine years, and Kat the shortest, for six months.

Suntop Action

Suntop in Action