One Of Those Shared Human Experiences I've Heard So Much About

It's not every day you get to casually observe a riot. Or at least, that's what I told myself on Sunday night after the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Now, I'm not the world's biggest sports fan, but I am from New England, and since we New Englanders don't really have much to be excited and / or happy about all that often, I decided to throw my half-hearted support behind my default home team as they tried to achieve a victory - and it paid off, in more ways than one.

I was watching the game at a friend's apartment in South Campus when the final field goal was kicked. Almost instantly, every door on Beacon Street flung open, spilling cheering throngs into the street to block traffic and indulge in revelry. Years of failed sports dreams and Puritanical repression were cast off as quickly and haphazardly as various articles of clothing in the sub-freezing Boston air. As I walked back home through the crowds, I noticed one thing everyone had in common - they were all extremely, genuinely happy.

In a city where people who know each other will routinely pretend they don't just to avoid a conversation, there was something authentically heartwarming to see so many grinning faces. People jumped on cars, and the drivers just cheered back. Nobody minded when two strangers hugged, each assuring each other that they were, indeed, "number one!" I even found my formerly indifferent self responding to cheers from all directions. If I'd been involved in sports more, I'd have probably ended up crowd surfing in Kenmore Square. It was one of those "shared human experiences" that everyone hears so much about, but so few people actually get to experience first hand.

When I got home and the evening started to settle down a bit, I planted myself at my computer to check my email. After filtering through the twenty-two unwanted junk emails I usually receive, a certain letter in my inbox stood out. It was from someone who'd never sent me an email before, but its content caught my eye and heart like I never thought email could do. It wasn't a letter from a kid with cancer who, for some reason, wanted to start a chain letter. Nor was it a letter from "Bill Gates," or from someone offering me a free gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse. It was a letter from a high school classmate asking for money.

Now, I knew this email would come sooner or later … I just figured I would be the one sending it out. What was especially odd about the email was that it was from someone who not only attends Boston University, but also is enrolled at the School of Management. I never thought I'd see someone from the School of "Sex, Money and Greed" write, "Money often stands in the way of the things we want, and I for one, am sick of letting that happen." Goodbye, stereotypes.

It seems that my friend wishes to travel to Nepal for a spiritual and educational experience, but even after working 30 hours a week for the entire semester, she will still be short about $800. She has tried to apply for loans at various banks, but has always been denied. She's even tried participating in medical studies - a last resort even for us normally desperate college students.

"Money will not magically come my way in the next few months," she writes. "So I have decided to look no further than the people in my life, and just ask. What do I have to lose?" In her email, she asked for whatever people could offer - even if it's just $5 that we might otherwise spend on a disappointing sandwich or overpriced coffee somewhere. And I, for one, am going to do it.

During our junior year, we often realize that ever-creeping kudzu vine of reality is coming closer to strangling our chances of ever doing "college things" again. Things like sleeping until noon, drinking from noon until midnight and sleeping until noon again … or, in a more sober existence - going abroad. We shouldn't be denied these experiences just because we don't have the aid of mysterious Dickensian benefactors.

And so, even though I can barely afford to feed myself on a weekly basis, I will be sending my friend a small amount of money. Maybe I'm doing it because I'll probably need a return loan from her when her SMG success pays off. Maybe I'll get some extra karma from helping a Hindu learn about her heritage. Or maybe it's because someday I'd like to see an altered version of that post-Super Bowl scene - everyone running into the streets, overjoyed that they're finally able to do what they've always wanted to.