Welcome to U-Mail, the Opinion Section’s newest column. U-Mail is written by you, for you. (Almost) Weekly installments give you a glimpse into the lives and minds of UCSB students, preserving real-life moments in a digital format, which are then reprinted and distributed in real life. Trippy, huh?

From: Min Seo Riu <mingymingy@umail.ucsb.edu>

To: S <s@umail.ucsb.edu>

Subject: I dream of Isla Vista

Dear S, 

When I was 12, I dreamed that I kissed a boy. I couldn’t really tell you what happened before or after, just that my eight-hour slumber had essentially created a rom com for my brain to entertain itself for a while, which culminated in one, singular, chaste kiss under mistletoe at the end of the script (very Hallmark!). When I woke up, I even half expected to magically have a boyfriend! But, the moment I realized that it had been a dream, his face already began slipping from my memory. 

Well, I’m not 12 anymore, and I’ve kissed other boys now — real ones, at that! But from time to time, I still think about my mystery dream boy from nearly a decade ago. I remember reading once that the brain can’t make up unique faces while you’re sleeping, so everybody you see in your dreams has, at some point, crossed paths with you. Isn’t that a little freaky? Your brain stores pictures of strangers in the back of your mind just to slip them in as background characters while you’re sleeping. Anyway, I knew for certain that my Hugh-Grant-wannabe was not someone I knew from school or swim practice. And since there are no unique faces in dreams, I sometimes wonder . . . Where did he come from? Did I know him? Was he just a stranger off the street that I glanced at one time? 

Now that I’m 20 and living in Isla Vista, the idea of faces and memories has been on my mind. Every time I’m in the Arbor, walking between the throngs of students going to and from class, I wonder if their faces will show up in my dreams. That sounds very strange, but I also like the intimacy of it. I think that a lot of the time, we walk by strangers and we don’t give it a second thought. But maybe in 30 years, I’ll see a familiar face in my dream, and my subconscious will know that I had seen them walking in the Arbor when I was 20 years old. Or maybe I won’t remember them at all, and they’ll be lost with the rest of my forgotten dreams. But still, they’ll be there, won’t they? 

And on that note, how many people do you think you walk by every day who have seen you in their dreams? If you dream of someone’s face, and they dream of your face, do you think that that might make you friends? Or, that you guys might be drawn to each other again? Maybe the next time you see them on the street, you’ll subconsciously look at them for half a beat longer, because you recognize that familiar smile. 

That’s what I love about Isla Vista. I feel sort of like we’re all tiny little ants in a colony, brushing by each other every day, on our way to classes, dinner, friends, enemies, lovers. There is potential at every corner to smile at a stranger and wind up seeing them in your dreams the next week. 

Seamus Heaney once wrote in his poem “Clearances,” “We’d stretch and fold and end up hand to hand / For a split second as if nothing had happened / For nothing had that had not always happened / Beforehand, day by day, just touch and go, / Coming close again by holding back / In moves where I was x and she was o.” 

I know it’s not the same context, but whenever someone asks me how it’s like living in I.V., I think about that part in “Clearances.” Nothing happens that has never happened before, day by day, touch and go . . . 

It’s monotonous, it’s lovely, it’s Isla Vista. 

I miss you!

Affectionately Yours, 

Mindy :-)


A version of this article appeared on p. 12 of the Oct. 20, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Min Seo Riu
Min Seo Riu is an Opinion staff writer and English major. She is a Danny DeVito enthusiast and a lover of Star Wars.