500 Days of Bummer

When I first came to UC Irvine in the fall of 2006, I never expected to find love. But Cupid has a funny way of finding you at the most unexpected moments and in week three of fall quarter, my life changed forever.

Fate would have my bike stolen the night before and I would have to drive to school the next morning. Unaware that I was on the highway to love and pain, I trolled for parking spaces. Social Science Parking Structure — full. Engineering Parking Structure — completely “ocupado.” Student Center Parking Structure — inaccessible. But just then I rounded the corner, and there you stood: five levels of structurally sound concrete, Mesa Court Parking Structure.

It was love at first park when I found a space right next to the Arts Bridge on the third floor. A car pulled out just as I pulled in, never doubting for a moment that this was destiny.

I knew the moment I saw you that you weren’t like the other parking structures. Your firm and sloping ramparts got my engine revving and that discreet secondary entrance made you my own little secret.

I knew my life would never be the same. I would spend the rest of my days thinking about how lucky I was to find you, dreaming of the time we’d spend together. Every day for the next week I would wake up in the morning and enter Mesa Parking Structure — just in and out, in and out, in and out. She would always respond with the pleasure of coming … to show me a parking space. Afterwards we would shift into park and idle together. We were so happy.

Now some of you cynics out there may be saying that love doesn’t exist because it’s just chemical reactions in your brain to get you to “pop your hood” and “bump bumpers.” But I’m here to tell you love is real.

Parking structures with parking spaces do exist at UC Irvine. However, one day it ended just as quickly as it had started. I came back from a hard day’s work of sleeping in class to my car and saw that I had gotten a ticket. My mind raced, unsure of what this meant. But deep down I already knew … I had been dumped because I refused to use protection — a parking permit.

I came back the next day with protection, eager to carry on, but it was no use. You had already found new admirers and all your spaces had been filled. You made me so angry. You structural whore! I couldn’t believe I had wasted the best rotations of my tires on you. It was time to date other garages.

I was determined to make you jealous with a taller, less slutty and younger parking structure, but I had to settle with the Student Center Parking Structure. Things were fine at first, but I gradually became aware that she would let anyone between her white lines and her backdoor entrance led directly to Campus Drive.

I wanted to break up but my protection only allowed me to park my car in her gaping, soiled spaces. Her father, UCI Parking Director Ron Fleming had forbidden me to park anywhere else under penalty of citation. The nerve of some parents. Oh how I missed Mesa!

For the next few years I trudged along, looking for parking wherever I could find it. Sometimes I would circle for hours just looking for a space. Once I even parked off-campus in an uncovered lot. I hated myself, but underneath it all, I just wanted somewhere to park where there was no hassle, no nagging ticket officers or zoned sections. I wanted the safety and security that came with a committed relationship. I tried to go back to Mesa but they wouldn’t let me because your parking permits were sold out. My friends thought I was crazy because you obviously didn’t want me, but I told them they didn’t know you like I did.

Sadly, this story does not end happily as I have never found the secure and loving relationship I was looking for in my four years at UC Irvine. But this story ends with a glimmer of hope in a park-less world.

Early in 2009 I caught a glimpse of the new structure on the block at the ARC. She is tall, with board-approved structure, glowing elevators and concrete so smooth and beautiful it will make you hurt. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for her to open to explore her dark, untouched space because her parents have decided she isn’t manageable and too ill-lit to be used. Maybe they should have thought of that before they decided to make her but that would be asking for too much thought and foresight. No, I must wait. I must wait for love to find me again like it did that fortunate fall evening of 2006.