Two reporters recount their accidental rendezvous in San Diego

October 13, 2022 — by Shreya Rallabandi and Zach Zinman
Photo by Fiona Feng
Seniors Zach Zinman and Shreya Rallabandi (left to right) jokingly pose on a dock on the San Diego bay with the skyline showcased behind them.
Though they were mere acquaintances before, this historical night catalyzed the beginning of a close friendship.

Late in the summer, we found ourselves together in San Diego with two of our other friends, seniors Fiona Feng and Anastasia Panidis, for just one night. We had more of a superficial relationship — knowing of each other, enjoying the other’s company but lacking depth — and had no intention of meeting up. A night with the other cemented our friendship and gave us a plethora of memories. Reminiscing, we decided to look back upon the craziness of the night in a recorded conversation:

Shreya: So, here’s how this started. We were in completely different situations at the time: I was in San Diego for a week on vacation with my friend Fiona.

Zach: My dad and I were visiting UCSD and I remembered Anastasia had a job in the city, so I asked her to meet up and she messaged me right back: “OH MY GOSH SHREYA AND FIONA ARE IN SAN DIEGO!!” And we made plans for 6 p.m. that night. 

Shreya: How do you remember it was 6 p.m.?

Zach: It was just so memorable.

Shreya: We went to her apartment and hung out with her dog for a while. I remember her neighbor came in, and I don’t think she was doing so well — and she kept on blaming you for, for…

Zach: For being a man?

Shreya: Yeah, and telling you that you’re a part of the patriarchy as a byproduct. You looked so personally attacked.

Zach: Her neighbor, someone whom I’ve never met, comes in and I get some lecture about how I’m contributing to the patriarchy?

Shreya: She might be right, though.

Zach: We had a deep political talk.

Shreya: After that, we dropped Anastasia off. I remember you and I went swimming in the ocean and I started splashing you with a ton of water.

Zach: I just remember jumping into the ocean with all my clothes on.

Shreya: You were like, “What’s the point of these hybrid shorts if I don’t use them?”

Zach: We saw this glow in the water, and you convinced us all was bioluminescence and got us all excited about it. You were telling us about some light-emitting algae in southern California and how it was super rare to find, and we all started running towards it.

Shreya: But it was just a bright light. Then some guy came up and kicked us out.

Zach: And then we headed downtown and looked over this giant bay of water.

Shreya: Yeah, with the skyline! Zach, you had your speaker and we were sitting on some massive pipe blasting Fleetwood Mac. It was drop dead gorgeous. 

Zach: We scaled the inside of that pipe on all fours. We couldn’t get that far, but when you spoke into it, it had the coolest echo. Then, we found this dock, and we went down right on the edge of the water. I don’t think we were allowed there.

Shreya: Really?

Zach: Yeah. But it was so perfect. I climbed over the railing and hung over this thirty foot drop over the water — Fiona was there to make sure I didn’t fall.

Shreya: And you thought you were the coolest person alive, all “I’m so daring” and “I’m so dangerous.”

Zach: Yes.

Shreya: You still think that?

Zach: Totally. And then “Fernando” by ABBA came on…

Shreya: I love that song. I associate it with you now. But then soon after that we had this urge to go on those green Lime scooters.

Zach: I think we were on those scooters for over an hour and toured the whole city late at night — around 2 a.m. — which was not a good idea.

Shreya: I remember this lady was out with her friends who yelled, “It’s a little late for you guys to be out at night!” But right after she added, “Kids, live your life! Have fun! Stay safe!” It was so sweet.

Zach: And the font was really nice on the building. That’s what I liked it for. Didn’t we start heading to Fiona’s sister’s house right after?

Shreya: Yes, to her studio. Then when Fiona and I offered to drop you off, you couldn’t remember which hotel you were staying at.

Zach: I remember I was staying at a Marriott. I also didn’t know my room number. 

Shreya: You didn’t have your key either, right?

Zach: Yeah. So I was basically stranded at 3 a.m. and my dad was asleep — but he did say I could stay out late, so I wasn’t in trouble in that sense.

Shreya: So we took you to Fiona’s sister’s studio. And there were ants. Everywhere.

Zach: There were so many — on the counter and all over the floor, too. I grabbed this bag of books and Fiona left to buy Raid from CVS, and you and I were like …

Shreya and Zach: Let’s kill them all.

Shreya: The Raid did the trick. We swept them all up with paper towels and tossed them outside.

Zach: And then, for some reason, we thought it was a good idea at around 5 a.m — with zero sleep — to take a drive to Tijuana.

Shreya: Okay, quick clarification: We didn’t want to go to Tijuana and actually cross the border. We wanted to get as close as possible to see Mexico but avoid dealing with all the immigration officials, so we mapped ourselves to a Taco Bell that was right at the edge in a little plaza, because we thought the irony was hilarious. Zach, you were passed out in the backseat, so I don’t think you remember, but there were all of these immigration attorney centers, cash exchange places, inns and such. Everything was in Spanish. The street names were all in Spanish. I understood most of it. Shoutout to Maestra Marks!

Zach: Did you guys get Taco Bell?

Shreya: No, we didn’t. We caught glimpses of Mexico instead. And then we headed back.

Zach: And … we crashed. On her bed. It was probably 7 a.m. in the morning.

Shreya: The bed was a bit smaller than a queen, so we had to squeeze our three bodies on.

Zach: We just passed out. My dad picked me up that day at around 11 a.m. and I was running on four hours of sleep. But it was so worth it. It was probably one of the most spontaneous and successful nights I’ve ever had.

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