246 Tucson, AZ: The Campus

[U of A Campus]

I went for coffee to the second floor lounge at the food court and watched students scurry below like ants. Architecturally, the University of Arizona campus resembles the city and this whole region: low, sandy buildings line either side of a broad flat, brown mall lined with palm trees.

My barista was a young female student, round-faced and tanned, who had a vertical silver dumbbell through her pierced eyebrow. She had short brown hair and wore the red short-sleeved shirt of her food-job uniform.

"I think this is a pretty tight community actually," she answered. "The university's kind of isolated from outside the university, but, within the university, everybody's pretty welcome and open and pretty tight."

I took my coffee and sat beside a kid with a calculus book, a Bobbie Fischer book, and a series of decks of cards spread out before him. He stared intently at the cards, rolled a die, re-arranged the cards, and wrote on a piece of paper. When I asked what he was doing, he responded with a pronounced Southern drawl, "I am inventing my own card game. I already invented a couple others." He explained to me an elaborate scheme of flipping cards based on the most recent roll of the die, but I got lost soon into the description.

To my question, the kid said, "The university brings all the scenes together, but people are confused as to whether or not to explore the city. I think the university has to get more involved. The university is trying to offer universal programs that incorporate all the classes. It's a way for people to break out of that isolation."

"What are you studying?" I laughed and pointed at the cards. "I would guess math."

"Theater arts, really," he deadpanned. "I moved to theater. At first, my major was physics."

"What are you going to ou do with this card game?" I asked.

"I could try to sell it to Vegas. I don't know how you could play this with money, though. This is just for fun," he concluded with another nervous laugh. "By yourself."

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