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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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El Callejón or “The Alley” is an avenue to friendship

Esquivel%2C+Hernandez%2C+Perez+and+Matthews+have+been+friends+since+their+first+year+at+Grinnell.+Although+they+do+sometimes+get+on+each+others+nerves%2C+its+been+so+far%2C+so+good+at+El+Callej%C3%B3n%2C+or+The+Alley.
Esquivel, Hernandez, Perez and Matthews have been friends since their first year at Grinnell. Although they do sometimes get on each other’s nerves, it’s been so far, so good at El Callejón, or “The Alley.”

Contrary to its name, “El Callejón” or “The Alley” is located on the intersection of two roads of average width. Jose Esquivel, Bryan Hernandez, Gabrielle Matthews and Armando Perez, all ’17, form the long-standing group of friends that occupies 933 High School.

“We’re all really weird,” Perez said, a sentiment echoed by his friends.

That weirdness likely comes from the length of their friendship. Esquivel and Hernandez have been friends since middle school and were both nominated to apply for the Posse Foundation, bringing them both to Grinnell. Perez joined Esquivel and Hernandez in the LA Posse their first year, and Matthews’ membership to DC Posse ensured that the four met early as first-years. Their overlapping friend groups have helped keep them close every year.

Because all are fourth-years, they were able to secure a house, but recommend that anyone considering off-campus housing start looking early on. Moving in together wasn’t entirely smooth either, as the group faced logistical challenges including tricky keys and a non-functional stove.

In terms of non-logistical challenges, some of their friends were concerned about the viability of the plan.

“A friend was worried about us living together,” Hernandez said, explaining that he and Perez often needle each other. “I push Armando’s buttons … he does it, too.”

“We love and hate each other,” Perez added.

Despite the difficulties, all four pals love living off campus. “It gives us an opportunity to disconnect from school,” Esquivel explained. “When you live in dorms you can’t escape,” Perez said, but he said the group is not isolated from campus either, because “[they] can see Main from here.”

Living in the house has strengthened their friendship even further, because they spend so much more time together than they have in the past. Matthews said that “housemate bonding stuff … just eating together,” has led to the new closeness and Perez pointed out “walking to classes together” as one of those bonding activities.

All four enjoy living in the house, but each has their own favorite quirk. From the “dad chair,” a light blue upholstered rocking chair, to the narrow stairs, to the frustrating system of locks, a dozen details create a worn but warm atmosphere about the house.

After just a week, Matthews found that they “feel comfortable in the entire house. It feels like you are actually doing life stuff but school isn’t your life. It’s definitely better and more comfortable than living in a dorm.”

The house offers many opportunities not found in the dorms. “We can make authentic food from home,” Perez said, pointing out empanadas as a recent attempt.

Another thing brought from far off-campus is the name “El Callejón.” “The Alley” is named for the narrow streets that run behind the childhood homes of Esquivel and Hernandez. “It reminds us of home,” Esquivel explained. “Back in LA, you could go there and buy a bunch of really cheap stuff.”

To get to their house, Perez, Esquivel, and Hernandez drove 25 hours from LA to Grinnell together. Despite this constant closeness, everything is “so far, so good” according to Esquivel. Perez claimed that “it feels like forever,” but in a good way.

Esquivel looks past any disagreements or differences of opinion. “We connect because we are different,” he said. Hernandez agreed, saying, “we just click.”

The group is indeed disparate, made up of Posses located across the nation from each other. The four have diverse interests, with majors ranging from Sociology and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies to Economics and Spanish.

The group serves as an advertisement for the benefits of living away from campus. “Living here is like living with a big family,” Esquivel said, which was met with groans from the other three. He justified himself by citing the “sense of community.”

The other residents do share his sentiments, however. Of his three housemates, Hernandez said that they are “the best people I could have here.”

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