The game room in Forbes College is deep varnished wood and just the right amount of dim. On one half stands the pool table of red velvet, scuffed and creaking with memories, a pair of wiry lamps suspended above it. There’s a rack of cue sticks - some missing their tips, and some bent with age. There’s an old jukebox that no one knows how to work, but it doesn’t matter because the place is lively enough without it.
There are couches arranged around the TV and scattered in every corner of the room, and sometimes you can barely line up a shot at the pool table because there’s a club chair knocking at your leg and asking you to sit.
There’s a framed portrait of four men at a pool table across the room, button-down shirts rolled up to the elbows. The portrait looks out over a foosball table, and on most nights you can hear the clacking of handles on little men and soccer balls, the din of wood sticks striking hard resin and felt.
I first learned how to play pool in this room: how to hold the stick so it would strike the ball just right, without slipping; how to predict collisions and pathways and accept unpredictable motions. I would spend an hour after dinner most days, playing pool with strangers who became teachers who became friends.
If you’re ever on campus, stop by. Pick up a cue, even if you’ve never played, because someone’s always close by to teach you. Take in the varnished wood and the deep light and - if you look close, you might see some initials, carved in chalk right up near the ceiling, from two freshmen who never expected the white dust to still be there three years later and long after.