The Second First Day

Today’s post was inspired by another  prompt from class. “Write from dawn to dusk”. Enjoy everyone! 


I wrestle with the covers one last time and finally open my eyes to stare at the off-white ceiling for a few minutes. I sit up and put my Woody Allen shaped frames—saved for the privacy of my apartment—on my nose and the room comes into focus.

I tiptoe out of the bedroom to avoid waking my roommate as she sleeps at a perfect right angle on top of her raft (read: air mattress) and begin my usual morning routine. As I shower, dress, and have breakfast, I decide that today, as my first day of my second semester at college, I will talk to at least one person in each of my classes. I need to make friends and after first semester, have realized that they aren’t going to magically make themselves. I leave my apartment and fight against the cold gusts of January wind as I make my way to campus and find my classroom.

My professor confuses me. For several reasons. First, when he opens his mouth, a fluent line of French unravels. This isn’t so unexpected since we are in “Elementary French 1,” but then he speaks in English and it is so tainted with a French accent that I still cannot understand him. This isn’t so unexpected either since I am unfamiliar with the language, but what is totally unexpected is that the professor is a small, black man. I am alarmed by how racist I suddenly feel. When class is over, I turn to the girl to my right. She has dirty blonde hair with bangs that cover her forehead and the biggest smile I have ever seen in my life. I introduce myself and she says her name is Melissa.

I enter my next class and slip into an empty seat among the surprisingly large crowd of people. The professor glides into the room as if she has descended from a cloud and introduces herself as Professor Seligman and the class as “Masterworks of Western Music,” which makes me feel like all the enjoyment of listening to music in the first place has been extinguished. Before leaving the room, I compliment the girl on my left about her purse and she says thanks.

I brace myself against the cold and walk across campus for lunch at the café. Once inside, I recognize a boy from my French class and say hello. He introduces himself as Cliff—short for Clifford–and explains that he’s already decided to drop the class. Discouraged that I’ve now wasted time trying to make friends with someone I will most likely never see again, I wish Cliff a good day and find a table to sit at by myself.

I don’t notice the boy sitting at the table beside me, but after eating, I stand up to put my coat on at the same time he does. Before I can, he grabs the small pile of trash I have accumulated on my table and throws it out for me. When he passes by on his way out of the café, I thank him. I guess there are other people trying to make friends today too.

I leave through the side door of the café myself, and head for the school bookstore. I balance textbooks in my arms as I wait in line to pay and hear two male voices behind me talking about how, if they could, they would spend their whole lives in college, first taking all the English courses, then the Math courses, and then the History courses. Although talking to people outside of my classes was not a goal for today, I feel particularly brave and turn around and join their conversation. It is not long before it is my turn to pay and I say goodbye to my newest acquaintances before I am forced to empty my bank account to complete my transaction.

I speed walk to my next class and find the last available seat around the long wooden table, right next to the cutest kid in class. While we wait for our professor, I initiate small talk, which is a surprise to myself, considering I have trouble talking to anyone, let alone anyone who also happens to be cute. The teacher walks in and welcomes us to “What Causes Cancer?” and kills our budding romance before it even has chance to root. We each introduce ourselves around the table and I learn that the cute kid’s name is Forrest and he’s a French major, and suddenly all hope is not lost since it just so happens I will most likely need a French tutor in the very near future.

I leave class and start walking back to my apartment since I have no more classes for the day. As I pass the library, an old lady pops out of the door wearing a royal blue coat so bright you feel as if it has punched you. Since I’ve been talking to so many people today, I decide to talk to one more before I go home. I tell her I like the color of her coat and ask if she takes classes here—my roommate used to have a class with a very old man until one day he stopped showing up—and she tells me that she is an alum and works to fundraise for the library. I accompany her to her car because she appears quite fragile and also in the hopes she’ll offer me a ride home in the unbearable cold. As a child, I was taught never to get into strangers’ cars but I figure she’s just a little old lady; I can take her down if I need to.

And so, when she asks if I’d like a ride home, I enthusiastically say I’d love one as long as it’s no trouble and when she says it isn’t, I get into her car. As she drives me the few minutes to my apartment complex she tells me how she was a second grade teacher and then a librarian. She says she doesn’t miss the work much, but she misses the kids. Suddenly I realize the purpose of my day spent trying to meet new people. Yes, I was trying to make friends. But the importance of doing such was simply because it’s not what we do in our lives that matters, but who we share it with that is important.