Seven and a half hours away, my old bedroom waits idly. Behind a chipping green door, slightly sticky and vaguely scratched-up waits a new one. I looked at the pictures online, of course, but they might not be accurate. The beds could be against the right wall or the left wall and the bathroom could be on the left or the right and who knows if the desks have been moved or if the chairs are there—I’ll answer my own questions soon enough. I hope.
I can’t get the key in the lock. I’ve never had a house key—the back door was always unlocked when I got home from school. Always. My RA must think I don’t know what a key is. She’s sort of right, I guess. This is going to happen every day, I’m sure of it. My roommate had better be good at keys because I’m going to be eternally locked out unless she’s there. Weird—I’ve worried about so much this week, like where my classes will be, and if I’ll like the food, and if anyone will like me or if I’m to remain friendless and live in the studio instead of this room I’ll never be able to enter—but keys somehow slipped my mind.
When the door decides to indulge me, I give it a push. Welcome home, my room says to me. It’s kind of just a whisper. Rooms don’t have a very loud voice when there’s nothing in them. It’ll talk to me later, I know. Once my things are out of their boxes and they tell the walls my stories. I can pick up where they left off later. When the rest of the world is quieter. When I’m more sure of what I want to say.
I thought my bed would be smaller, but I don’t know why. Insomnia will surely find me here regardless—out of everything I forgot back home, the nervousness somehow worked its way into my suitcase. I have my melatonin supplements, right? They’re next to my toothpaste? Oh my God, I might have forgotten them. There has to be a Target around here. I’ll be there by the end of the week, undoubtedly. I forgot toilet paper.
Between scratches and chips and stray Sharpie marks, constellations of pinholes dot each wall. I’ll add my own stars once I unpack my supplies. I brought a lot of posters—white walls are so vapid. I can’t stand them. By the end of the semester, there won’t be a swatch of white left on my side of the room. Only color.
Everything is much brighter than I’d expected—the windows dominate the room. I gravitate towards one of them. Beyond a smattering of leaves, the whole campus waves to me, and I’m pretty sure I witness some magic.
Pratt is an enigma. Such a place surely can’t exist, right? People can only be one-hundred-percent themselves in fairytales and daydreams. But, it would seem, that’s true here, too. Here is a fairytale or a daydream or something else entirely I’ve had yet to encounter. Can I actually drop every pretense I’ve ever assumed and find a way to adapt to this environment by not adapting at all?
If I could answer those questions already, it wouldn’t be any fun.
Photography by Samuel Herrera