It's the first day of classes, the morning of her fourth year. Natalie is the president of Stebbins and prepared for the year- she has to take her physical science breadth and write her senior thesis for Peace and Conflict Studies, her boyfriend just got back from a service trip to Haiti, and she successfully coordinated the house for a Welcome Week OCCUPY CAL protest. Everyone had an anonymized Fbook name and fought the power accordingly. Life was chill.
Meanwhile, Rishi is rushing down the steps of the GBC with a Monster in one hand and a Blackberry in the other. He's not sure if he'll keep it, because Blackberry has really gone downhill since they started using touchscreens, but he's got to keep tabs on emails from potential employers. Fourth year is going to rock- he's social chair of his business fraternity, signed up for 10AM Rocks for Jocks, and changed his Fbook name so that the corporate world won't see his epic party albums. As he passes under Sather Gate, he scrolls through to see if any cute girls have commented on his friends' profiles. This one is intriguing...NOOOOOOOOO TOUCHSCREEN FAIL!
Natalie gets to Rocks for Jocks a bit early and rolls her eyes at the obvious posturing some Haashole is doing halfway across the room. Oh, his frat is doing a networking mixer and they might use those plastic champagne flutes? Astounding. Surely Fbook will be a better use of her time. What's this? A poke? Who even does that anymore? Oh wait. There's a message from someone called Roshi...
"Hey! I just poked you. And this is crazy. But your pic is inspiring. So like me maybe?"
Intrigued, Natalie spends the next several weeks corresponding with this mysterious Roshi. When the Haashole's frat starts trying to take over her house, she finds comfort that her her penpal always has funny jokes and an odd assortment of news links to send her. When her boyfriend decides to move to Peru to "find himself," she's surprisingly ok. Roshi's puns always cheer her up. Neither one is willing to add the other; it might ruin the magic. But, they arrange to meet at Cafe Milano early one Friday afternoon. (She'll have time to make a protest in Oakland, and he'll be able to dash to Beat the Clock.)
Settled in at the table, Natalie positions the mini Cal football as their pre-arranged signal. Even though she has a copy of Nora Ephron's "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she can't keep her gaze from leaping toward the door every few seconds. Her heart sinks when she sees the Haashole saunter in. She is unexpectedly satisfied by the choice words she tosses at him when he picks up the mini-football and spins it around in his palms, and yet her compassion springs overboard at the brief hurt in his eyes before he masks it and boasts of the tailgate his frat will host once they take over the space they so deserve. Roshi never does show up.
Rishi is gobsmacked to find Natalie at Cafe Milano. The earthy hippie from Rocks for Jocks is the sexy co-ed he's been Fbook messaging? How can he possibly woo her when he's been plotting to have the city of Berkeley condem her house so that his frat can have a solid tailgating locale? What a conundrum.
Still, Natalie and Rishi converse. After all her tribulations, Natalie decides she'll try again. It hurts to sublet a dingy studio owned by a human trafficker. That's the antithesis of her PACS thesis, in fact. The only thought that brightens her life is that, on that rarest of days, the October Big Game, she might finally meet her Fbook love.
Rishi is nervous as he walked through Maxwell Family Field, but the myriad distractions can't break his stride. A high five from Oski keeps him from running over a toddler inexplicably wearing a tiny sari, but never mind that, the Cal Band is playing "Our Sturdy Golden Bear" and he spies Natalie at the gate. As he approaches, Natalie realizes that this man carrying the mini-football is Roshi. And Rishi.
Natalie tears up, and Rishi pulls her against him, patting her hair awkwardly. She exclaims, "I missed you so bad. I missed you so, so bad."