It was finally here— move-in day!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents, but suffering under their heel for eighteen years was enough in my book. As they finished heaving off the last box and bag on to my dorm room floor, I gave them both hugs and watched them drive off— somewhat remorseful at the significance of what’s transpired but more excited to at long last spread my wings and fly (and if I could spread my seed around a bit, then that would be nice too, ladies).
It had taken the better part of an hour to unload my things. Technically, though, it took around two and a half hours to unload everything because my roommate— Eric Blanche— was unloading his stuff as well. Because we had to compete with all the other kids hustling one another for space in the hallways and elevators, that slowed us down further; it didn’t help that our dorm was on the fifth floor.
But, it was all good.
The residence hall I was assigned was called Condor Hall. Weird name, I thought, but honestly, it wasn’t any weirder than me continuously confusing it with “candor” the virtue. The hall was fine, though. One of the larger student domiciles’s on campus, the building had five floors and multi-user bathrooms (which I wasn’t so thrilled about). The hallways were always clean and one could smell a cleaning agent in the air; lemony and seeing as how it was infinitely better than flatulence, I liked it; slightly older friends who had already started their own Uni careers had told me that the worst thing about living in the dorms was the lingering smells in the hallways from the restrooms. That, and the fact that you had no privacy.
It was all good. The building was up to date and its surreal circular design— each perfectly round floor suspended above the previous via a suite of ultra-strong cables— provided me with a bit of a novelty long after move-in day. Plenty of windows allowed for ample sunlight and so made each hallway awash with radiance; the entire ceiling was essentially a single pane of clear glass (or, not really glass, but some material that Reno couldn’t fathom). Absentmindedly, I thought that during the winter snowfall, this hallway would look closer akin to a snow tunnel than a school; surely, the compacted snow on the roof would block out all the light.
Pushing thoughts like that to my mental abyss, I helped my roomie lug all our collective crap into our shared unit.
Opening the door simply by swiping my student ID in front of the deceptive peep-hole— which I was to discover had no actual function on the other side of the door since the door’s interior would turn opaque just enough to allow residents to see who was knocking at the door— the door swooshed open. I didn’t have much time to appreciate the room itself while we were lugging out stuff up but once everything was within the room I noticed the room.
Like everything in the hall, my dorm was circular. The beds were of a pill shape and they were neatly carved into the wall at an angle providing a cave-like feel as one rested. Like the outside hallway, there was little in the way of a ceiling; except for a single strip of covering running down the middle of the room, that which separated my side from my roomie’s side— most of the ceiling was open comprised of the same open glass. Experimenting with the various stitches, I did find a button that dimmed the whole ceiling to that of a regular, non-transparent pane. In any case, all of the glass was tinted so that outside spectators did not see into the rooms; this was something I found when examining my desk— looking out of the window, the one that could be easily “adjusted” and opened to allow fresh air in the room, I noticed that each dorm stuck to its respective hallway like a bubble. Because of the circular shape of the rooms, for all of them to spaciously fit, they needed to be attached to the building proper at differing elevations, so some rooms were slightly higher while others were slighter lower. Such alternating elevation providing a nice aesthetic to students on the highest floor like myself and Eric; the difference created a pleasing sense of interruption that broke up the monotony. I liked the frosted pane of the glass as it gave me privacy; I am sure the others thought so too. After all, there is nothing worse than waking up to your morning cup of tea, going to your study space, only to casually look down into another student’s room and see them working hard on busting a nut. Sort of a mood killer.
I liked the room. The circular design made it easy to divide space. I settled on the right-hand side of the room. I unpacked my numerous books onto the shelves, made my bed, and got my desk organized. Eric and I were both fairly introverted people— or Eric was when he was around me, anyways. We mostly minded our own business about each other. So, we unpacked in silence focused wholly on the task at hand.
By the time we were done, both of us were tired. And sore. And a bit cranky since unpacking involved a tee more communication than we had intended. But, we were cranky in a good way, both of us clearly happy to be away from home for the first time, pregnant with the aspirations that only make sense to those raised in a privileged, sheltered household.
Tangagile University was the premier place of higher learning for New Media majors. Sure, I only got in because of sheer luck and because of a tuition waiver that favored low-income students, but I was happy to be here all the same. I had a lot of anxieties but right now, looking at my freshly unpacked room, staring out over the vast expanse of campus, I thought to myself that this is fantastic. Those worries of mine couldn’t have been further from the forefront of my mind than if I had banished them to another plane of existence. I was happy.
Orientation, or Freshers Week, was only three days. Naturally, Reno felt slighted.
Even so, Reno did his best to follow the other groups of first-years whenever he left his dorm; the orientation events themselves always gave him anxiety since, for some reason, it felt like going to confessional. At this point in the semester, there was only other freshman on campus. While that was a blessing since he wasn’t singled out if he became lost— an easy thing to do in a campus this large— it didn’t exactly help since sometimes when he went out, it felt like a ghost town with just the new students and skeleton crew of faculty and custodian members to populate the place. Several times, Reno left his dorm to try and go to an event only to find that he had no idea where to go.
Consequently, he spent a lot of time aimlessly wandering until he found a directional booth or someone from the support staff. Nevertheless, he prided himself on only missing a single unimportant orientation event.
For the most part, Eric and he were together throughout it all. Over the three days, they attended a variety of events— tours, informational lectures, seminars on alcohol abuse and consent, all that and the general jazz newly quasi-independent late teens are exposed to when they are leaving the den for the first time. The basic flow designed to hopefully keep the social chaos to the minimum. Eric deftly paid attention, sometimes making note of a particularly helpful detail. Reno, meanwhile, did his best to just get through it. He was more interested in classes starting.
For the most part, Reno got along with Eric. But, Reno knew that this was just the “honeymoon” period. The real test of whether or not they hated each other would come a couple months later.
If Reno was honest, he didn’t know a whole lot about Eric. He knew that he was a Geology major and that he liked comic books. Other than that, Reno knew precious little about the person he was going to be sharing his abode with for the better part of the year. Eric’s family was pretty conservative but he himself was as apolitical as Reno ever saw going as far to avoid people who talked about politics. Reno didn’t know if he was religious.
Physically, Eric was nondescript. He had quite a few acne scars from his early teens and blond, bowl cut hair. Truthfully, his hair was the most distinctive part of his appearance. Other than that, though, nothing about his choice of clothes would make you think he was a hipster or cutting-edge or wanted to gentrify some Othered culture. Like many young people, he simply existed.
As Reno lied in bed on the final night of orientation, the next day the start of his first class as a newly minted college student, he wondered if he was truly cut out for college life. He thought he was— he knew he was smart, otherwise, he wouldn’t have earned that waiver. But, still… sometimes it nagged at him, the general anxiety. He didn’t want to disappoint his parents. He didn’t want some menial job. He wanted this, this life of the average college student, to fit in and party and study. Reno wanted it to be like in the movies.
He didn’t know it yet, but his college experience would be far from the movies; it would, however, be historical.