My name is Larry Eshleman; I’m an economist with EY and a UH alumnus. I graduated in 1996 from UH with a B.S. in Mathematics and lived in the Quad all four years of my stay from 1992 to 1996. If I’m being completely honest – when I first moved into the Quad from the small Texas town of Devine, I was convinced I’d made a huge mistake. I was away from my parents for the first time. I’d never felt so miserable, alone and out of place in my life. And yet, living in the Quad grew on me, to such an extent that it became one of the defining periods of my life. I met my very best friends (even to this day), and of those most especially of all, my wife. My story is about how those life-long relationships formed, all thanks to the Quad.
At the beginning I was completely disoriented and a bit adrift in this new and strange environment. The third floor of Taub Hall was … can I say it? It was a dwelling place of a very strange bunch of people, conducting odd goings-on at every hour of the day and night. Yet when you dug below the surface – as I eventually got the courage to do – you’d find some of the most interesting, brilliant and welcoming people you’d ever meet. My initial desire to flee gradually and unexpectedly morphed into a lasting desire to stay as long as I could.
For my sophomore year, three friends from Taub and I decided to become suitemates and turn our third-floor suite into “The Lounge.” It was simple. We’d move all four beds into the left-hand room (Taub 326) so the right-hand room (Taub 328) could be a social hub for all of Taub, and for other Quad residents as well. The right-hand room had a TV, sofa, LAN-linked PCs for gaming, a Super Nintendo with multiplayer Bomberman (to facilitate the many, many impromptu four-player Bomberman tournaments), my piano keyboard to provide the occasional song, and a fridge and microwave with stacks of sodas and a freezer that was always full of Hot Pockets. Everybody came to the Lounge at some point. Because of that, I really got to know one of my very best friends to this day, Kim Hales, and his wife-to-be Kelly Atkison. Many adventures were started in the Lounge between Kim and I and our many friends. Truly great times.
But nothing lasts forever, of course, and neither did The Lounge. Come my senior year of 1995, Kim, Kelly and the others had to move out and move on, and so we returned Taub 328 to a standard room. But easing that transition was the fact that my brother John was coming to UH. I invited him to be my roommate.
When I learned that we had a new RA named Ogechi Onunka, I thought I’d greet her and welcome her to the third floor. I immediately recognized her as someone I knew – she was the actress who played the starship Captain Jane on the UH Student Video Network TV show “Science Fiction Theater.” She eyed me warily at first, as she’d heard the stories of how rowdy the third-floor Taub denizens could be. Undaunted, I invited her to meet my brother and watch TV with us—and as she saw that I was someone who was actually willing to live with my brother, it put her a bit more at ease. The three of us started watching TV together in Taub 328 on a regular basis. Most of all, Ogechi and I watched “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (aka “MST3K”) together every night.
During that time, I never knew what a talented singer she was. But as it turned out, she was, and was always gathering with friends like Natalie Merritt and Lynn De La Victoria in the Taub stairwells and working out harmonies to their favorite songs. One evening she asked me to come see her perform in the Oberholzer Ballroom at “Spatula Night,” which was an annual talent show for Quad residents where many of the acts would involve singing into a spatula. I went to see Ogechi, flanked by Natalie and Lynn, sing Madonna’s “Take A Bow.” It was a spellbinding performance. Near the end of the song Ogechi spotted me in the crowd, and in the moment, she gave me a very flirtatious wink. That wink sparked my romantic interest in her. A few years later, we were married at the AD Bruce Chapel (with both Kim and John as my co-best men).
Now, Ogechi and I live in Pearland with our 10-year-old and 6-year-old boys, David and Christopher. Kim and Kelly are their godparents who live in Houston, and John and his wife Christa (and their two cousins) aren’t far away in Cypress.
Just this past year, Ogechi and I got to fulfill a dream to take our sons to see the old room at Taub where dad met Uncle Kim and Aunt Kelly, where he roomed with Uncle John, and where he met and fell for mom for the very first time. All thanks to the Quad.