Cruising Together

By Kayla Burchuk

Celeste Prince (English/Creative Writing, Lakewood, Colo.) writes short stories and runs track. Evan Coles-Harris (Asian Studies, South Pasadena, Cali.) plays a Chinese instrument and has an all-abiding love of Dupre. Both residents of GDD,Prince and Coles-Harris have been dating since the third week of their freshman year. The Mac Weekly: Tell me the story of how you guys got together.

Celeste Price: We were in the same first-year course and it was residential so we lived in Dupre . All the weeks we had been at school everyone was like, “Floor-cest, don’t do floor-cest, no floor-cest!” He actually lived down the hall from me.

ECH: I was interested in anything with boobs and a pulse freshman year, just to be honest … I was just walking around the floor asking if anybody wanted to watch a movie with me . Celeste agreed to watch this movie with me and we went and we sat in my room and we watched Y Tu Mamá Tambien.
CP: I though it was that we played video games . I remember also that there was another guy who was trying to get my attention at the same time, Jevonne. That’s what made Evan stand out much more because I said, “This kid has been trying to talk to me and wants to take me out to a movie,” and Evan’s like “That guy’s a flake!”

ECH: This kid, listen, he wasn’t a Mac student; he was just some kid from the neighborhood. She met him trying to sell skittles on Bateman Plaza! . He did this thing for like a week where he would call her and be like “What are you doing?” and she’s like “Nothing. Wanna hang out?” and he’s like “Let me call you back” and would call back like three hours later and do the exact same thing. He was the fuse that ignited it. He was the reason why I looked so good even being as awkward as I was. I had somebody to rag on and make myself look better. To this day I’m grateful that he had absolutely no game, whatsoever.

TMW: Where do you guys live?

CP: I live on the floor below his.

ECH: I live in GDD 326, which is the Chinese Suite, and she lives in 226. So it’s easy to see each other.
CP: I have five roommates and he has four . I live with three girls from the softball team and then two girls from my track team, so it’s a very athletic room.

TMW: Celeste, I was reading a little bit about your research and it sounds fascinating.

CP: My Mellon [Fellowship] research is also my Honors project. It’s a collection of short stories about black people in white situations, which is basically black people negotiating their identities as black people in settings where their blackness is not reflected back at them except in common mediums like MTV, BET, the internet. How do you “act black” when no one else around you is black? Do you assimilate or do you rebel? .And then what happens when another person of color enters the space? Do they relate to you or do they try to distance themselves from you? That’s going on a lot in my stories … I’m the writer of the stories which is a lot of crazy power, but I like it … I could write a thesis if I wanted to, it’s not the best way, I think, to illustrate people’s experiences. You can’t put people’s experiences into a thesis statement . My life doesn’t fit into a thesis statement.

TMW: Last semester you complained to the Spotlight that there weren’t any people of color represented. Tell me about what happened with that.

CP: I was looking at it and just pondering who was being spotlighted and for what reason. and I was looking at it last year and I was just noticing that there had been only four students of color who had been represented out of 25, apparently. I was like “This isn’t okay.” …Also the frustration with coverage in the other areas of The Mac Weekly of students of color who were doing big things on campus that weren’t being recognized, their voices just weren’t being heard..When I was telling people about my frustration with this they’re like, “Not everyone reads the Mac Weekly anyway.” The Mac Weekly is our voice, and when I saw that not everyone’s voice was being heard and that this had been happening the entire time I was at Macalester I just got pissed and I had to write something.

TWM: What do you think about these issues, Evan?

ECH: As much as I hate to admit it, I actually don’t read the Mac Weekly. I always have been a proponent of “roll with the punches” and just do what you need to do to get through any sort of trouble you run into. I fully support Celeste in everything she’s been saying; I totally agree with her that it’s a serious issue. I personally don’t tend to take action on it though.

CP: .Which was one of the fraught points of our relationship when we first got together.
ECH: That usually starts the fights.

CP: I almost killed him.

TMW: You guys had a period in your relationship where you were negotiating personal issues and feelings related to race?

ECH: Yeah, definitely, mostly freshman year. It still crops up every once in while.

CP: Because I was like “Down with the Man!” and he was like “Let’s just go with it!”
ECH: I was like, “The Man is the Man and whatever, I can’t take him down. I’ma just do me. I’ma do me.”

CP: I’m like, “No, we gotta take him from behind! We gotta do guerilla warfare! We gotta rock!” .and he’s like, “Let’s go have dinner.”

ECH: Yeah, pretty much. But, no, seriously, what would start the fights . you would come home talking about something you had learned in American Studies class and I’d be like, “Yeah that makes sense.” I have a really bad habit of playing devil’s advocate always. I am the devil’s advocate, basically. I’d say something wrong, and then there we’d go. Celeste would get very upset and be like, “I don’t know if I can be with you if you have these views!” and I’m like “Ahhhh, please don’t leave me!” [laughs]. That’s basically how it went.

TMW: Besides hotly debating racial politics, what else do you guys like to do together?

ECH: [Laughing]
CP: I don’t know. We don’t do many things together, we just end up in the same room doing separate things.
ECH: I do homework while she watches T.V.

CP: Ugh, that’s not true!
ECH: Or she does homework while I read That’s pretty much it. We just sit near each other and that counts as couples’ time. As long as we’re in the same place. .I actually basically lived in her room sophomore year. I had a room in Wallace technically but I just wasn’t there. Most of the time I just slept over in Dupre because a: I like Dupre better than Wallace and b: she was there, so.

CP: Which is a statement you’ll never hear from anyone else: “I like Dupre more than Wallace.” No one ever says that!
ECH: Dupre is awesome! It’s the best dorm. I got caught up in the whole community freshman year. .I had an excellent roommate, Bobbi Gass ’12. is a G .We were perfect for each other.
CP: [Laughs] They sang Beatles songs together.
ECH: Not just sing Beatles songs together but we would sing Beatles songs together while we were taking showers in the Dupre bathrooms. In these creepy-ass bathrooms, like, “Hey, man, you wanna take a shower?” “Yeah, okay”. So we’d go take showers and sing “Obla-di Obla-da” .and “Helter Skelter.” That was our other favorite.
CP: And then he got it tattooed on his chest.
ECH: Bobbi got “Obla-di obla-da” tattooed on his chest. .But, anyway, I got really tied up in the sense of community that we all had freshman year and it’s just left me with such awesome memories of Dupre I just always wanna go back.

TMW: At the end of the day, what draws you together, beyond everything?

CP: That we’ve been together for so long?
ECH: No! That makes it sound like we’re just together because we don’t want to be alone. [Prince cracks up] That’s horrible! .I am deeply and madly in love, and I always will be, that’s all there is to it.
CP: Stop it!
ECH: That’s how it is.

CP: Evan’s been there from the very beginning, from all the stupid effed-up mess I had to go through with.everything, pretty muc
h. Changing roommates, him going abroad, me trying to figure out my life in general. He’s my best friend. He doesn’t consider me his best friend, but he’s my best friend, so.

ECH: I fall in love really easily, and I don’t fall back out.

CP: So I have a good chance of sticking around for a while then, I guess.

TMW: Evan, your year in China, what was that like?

ECH: I did a program in Nanjing, which is a city in Southern China. .The experience as a whole was really, really good. I’m glad I got to go and my Chinese got way better and I got to travel everywhere and that was awesome. I made a lot of really good friends. .I was studying Tai Chi for a little bit and I started studying a classical Chinese instrument called Guqin … It’s like a four foot long block of wood with seven strings strung across the top … It’s a really beautiful sounding instrument.

TMW: Do you serenade Celeste?

ECH: I did when I got back, then I broke a string.

CP: I wasn’t serenade-able.
ECH: Celeste doesn’t respond well to romance. She’s like, “That’s nice. I think I’m going to go back to watching Jersey Shore now.”
CP: I suck at romance.

TMW: What are your plans for the future?

ECH: I have applied to two grad schools and already been rejected from one, although fortunately, it wasn’t the one I really wanted to go to. The one I really want to go to next year a graduate certificate in International Studies issued by the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Nanjing, at Nanjing University.

CP: I applied to 8 schools, got rejected from one already, so there’s still hope. .for an MFA [Master of Fine Arts]. I applied to a program that was an MFA-PhD joint program because the ultimate goal is to come back to Macalester and teach, someday, which I think would be cute. .I just like the idea of being able to come back, mostly because I want a wooden door office in Old Main.

TMW: Next year are you guys going to try to stick together?

CP: That’s the one million dollar question.

ECH: .Roll with the punches. .We’re going to be apart for at least a year. I’m going to be in China next year and Celeste is not.

CP: I don’t have a passport.

ECH: It’s hard to be apart, but it’s a reality of life.