Further honoring our loving relationship with our mother magazine, The Blue and White, we present one of the mag’s monthly campus characters, Ridge Montes, SEAS ’15, an RA who has managed to win the housing lottery by scoring digs in EC for the past three years, written by staff writer Jen Sluka, CC ’17. Be sure to check out this month’s ATSL, a feature on an EC security guard, and a personal essay on trans identities and visibility if you haven’t already.
“I literally don’t matter and that is the most validating thing. I feel more special for how unexceptional I am,” Ridge Montes, SEAS ’15, tells me as we wrap up our interview. We had been talking philosophy, as Ridge often does.
“On a deep, deep, deep fundamental level, we are all the same,” he’d said earlier, before clarifying. “Not all our attributes are the same, not even our habits are the same, but the praxis that we use for retaining or changing habits over the course of a lifetime has a very strong similarity one person to the next, so much so that we can talk about life, or talk about love.”
Our three hour conversation ended up in the EC townhouse where he has lived as an RA for three years. Ridge has been in dorms for a long time, from boarding school to the 3-2 combined plan at Columbia, with a pit stop at the University of Chicago in between.
In addition to his RA job, Ridge works in the Classics department and at Vino Fino, a wine shop close to Columbia. He has been financially independent throughout his time at Columbia. “All the clothes I wear, all the knick knacks in my room, I can think about them in terms of life I spent,” Ridge tells me. “So one hour at the office will buy me maybe three bottles of beer, maybe a T-shirt, and you populate your life, you make it the fingerprint of your activities.”
When we arrived at his townhouse, Ridge put on the overture to The Magic Flute, his favorite opera, and we continued our conversation over a meal of shakshuka, which Ridge prepared on the spot. He likes to cook for people—it’s how he met his best friend, Patrick Aloia, CC ‘15. Near the end of the first semester of their CC class, Ridge invited Patrick and a few other classmates over for dinner. “We went over to his home, he got us wine, he made us roast chicken, rice, everything tasted great, and we just talked about philosophy and our lives,” says Patrick. “It was totally natural and he made us feel welcome.”