(I wrote this on Friday but was too lazy to post it)
So I finally moved into my room today at university. People have been asking me ever since I received my unconditional: “How are you feeling about it?” I know they were trying to make conversation and be polite, but I just couldn’t give them the answer they wanted. First of all, I didn’t feel anything. That’s a very common reaction and feeling from me, so I would often get very confused looks when I replied that I didn’t feel anything at all. Because I didn’t.
Was I excited? No. Was I nervous? No. I simply wasn’t anything.
My mother was busy so she would make her own way by train later in the day. Instantly I was a little worried. My mother is one powerhouse of a woman and quite simply, I wasn’t sure I could make it throughout the day without her constantly reminding me of everything I had to do. It was just me and dad. I knew we were stopping for breakfast at some point so I made an effort to not eat anything. Before we had even got off the drive, one of the lighter boxes fell down. Glancing over our shoulder, we exchanged a glance.
“I guess we’ll see how well they’re in when we go round the countryside,” he decided.
Luckily, that was the only box to fall. After an hour, I complained of hunger and we stopped shortly at the Craven Arms. I crammed my bacon, sausage and egg sandwich down and could already feel the beginnings of nerves settle in. It was slowly starting to sink in exactly what I was doing. My tremor in my hands were back, if only slightly, and my heart and chest were aching sharply. They didn’t go away for the rest of the day.
About ten minutes from the campus, my dad had his music on, and decided that there were certain songs we could possibly roll in with. Rasputin, Bad Boys or Buffalo Soldier. I told him to stop because he was embarrassing me. The truth was, the more he drew attention to me, the more my nerves grew. No, I did not want people to see me as the one who came in with Rasputin blasting from the radio. I’m already the disabled one.
I don’t know how but we were able to get all of my belongings to my room. In between I managed to lock myself out to then find out that my door doesn’t lock properly. Good start within the first hour. Dad complained the whole time about his legs, being less fit than he used to be, and the fact that I didn’t have a fan in my room. Once all the boxes had been thrown in, Dad stormed around the local shops until he found a fan in Currys. He was pretty satisfied (for a short while) before we arrived at Morrisons and he complained about his legs again.
Once we picked mother up, she managed to make her way up the stairs with a crutch. I honestly thought she would have died at the bottom and we would have had to leave her behind. But she did well because she was standing moments later in my room, still alive from what I could see.
“Is there not a lift?” she asked.
Oh, yes, of course there is a lift. That’s why we brought all the boxes up four flights of stairs because why not? It was a laugh. After she’d realised there was no lift and complained, we started to unpack. I had no idea what to do first or where anything was going to go. I wasn’t even sure if we had enough room. My room is probably one of the biggest in Aber but I’d pretty much brought everything with me. There wasn’t much left behind.
Whilst unpacking, mother insisted we go look at the shared kitchen. It turns out that I’m sharing it with seven other people, two more than I had originally anticipated. No, I didn’t like that. Immediately I was put out. A girl came in while we were looking at the cupboards. I still can’t remember her name but she introduced herself. She reached out her hand and I realised she wanted me to shake it. As soon as I touched her hand, it was quite sweaty and not being comfortable with touching sweaty hands, I gave it a prompt shake and let go. She told me the people who had arrived so far were going to the Student Union for a drink.
…. I hadn’t finished packing. I would rather get it all done than leave it till the morning. But I need to make friends. But I didn’t want to go out, not yet. Who was going? I had only seen her and a boy. That made conversation harder because there was less of us. I didn’t even know where the Student Union was….
“Well, I’m still unpacking.” “It sounds great.” “I’ll let you know.”
Having avoided that encounter, I stayed in my room unpacking and didn’t come out. I didn’t manage to finish so had to return in the morning. Once it had all been done, I had to admit my room looked rather nice. It was actually better than my one at home. My parents had helped immensely and we managed to figure out space issues and there was actually more room than I had thought.
We went to the different fairs that were happening but they were entirely useless. Someone managed to fix my door so now I can lock it. I somehow managed to get my Frozen poster to stay up after it fell down twice. It wasn’t until I told my parents I’d meet up with them later in the day that it started to sink in. I was sitting in my room, and even with my knowledge that my parents were about five minutes away, I was alone. Only then did I realise what was happening and I started to get extremely nervous. So I listened to Stevie Nicks and eventually fell asleep.
I woke to find a congregation of people outside my room talking. Well, there were four of them. The girl I’d already met, a small girl called Kelly, a tall girl who said she had brownies (???) and a gay guy. They were planning to go to a talk for five and go for a drink after. My grandmother’s sister lives an hour away from Aber and she wanted to come and see us, have dinner. So there was no way I was going with them. How would I say that nicely? I settled for- “My parents are going in the morning so I’ll come with you once they’re gone.”
There. They accepted it and I was relieved. Going back in my room, I got ready for dinner with my Aunt and parents, worried constantly about the social aspect of my life at Aber. I knew one person but Caitlin was living on the other side of Aber so we wouldn’t be seeing each other much. I’m more of a gradual friend. I don’t click with anyone. So I wasn’t too worried but at the same time I couldn’t keep on running home to my mother like I did before. She wasn’t there anymore. I had to stick it out. Woman up.
The last night I spent with my parents, we went down to the seafront. We just sat there for a while and it was incredibly peaceful. That was until my dad started doing impressions of Jabba the Hutt so people were turning round in confusion to stare at him. A man walked past who resembled an Ewok, which meant that dad just had to do his Chewbacca impression. The man heard him and came back to discuss Star Wars. All in all, it was rather embarrassing and amusing.
I only slept about three hours that night. Since I had been out with my parents, my flatmates had gone out, returning frequently between 11pm and 3am. All I could hear was them running up and down the corridor, shouting and knocking on the doors. Safe to say, I did not have a very good night.
And then I was alone the next morning. For the first time in my life, I was finally having to do things on my own. This was my chance to be the strong, independent woman I’d always said I was. But there was still the difficult situation of making friends. Making friends for me was like Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible. Or more to my taste, I was Bilbo on a long journey, slightly hesitant and worried, stuck with people I did not know (Caitlin being Gandalf), where I make lifelong memories, a mixture of good and bad, as well as lifelong friends. Hopefully, none of them are killed by orcs. Because that would be tragic. And terribly unrealistic.
So that was that. I fell back into bed and stared up at the ceiling.
“Welcome to university, Hannah.”