Every first day of a new venture is different. They can be overwhelming, exciting, scary, fun or a variety of different things. For my first days as a Media Analyst I had decided to be proactive and make sure that I was visible to my boss so that I could be at the head of the team when it developed further. I tried to hit the ground running for my first days on A215 so that I had enough of a head start that my upcoming first days as a mummy won’t be burdened by the course. Other first days I have found more difficult…
This little piece of creative writing draws on a cluster and free-write I did a couple of weeks ago as one of my exercises for A215. It’s autobiographical, set in my halls of residence sometime in October 2000, and tries to capture some of the feelings I had in my first term of my first degree. I decided to try to develop it further today in part because a friend of mine is having her own first days at University, in part to try and stretch my writing muscles and in part to remind myself how far I have come, so that those potentially scary first days that lie ahead of me aren’t quite so scary. It’s very rough, so any constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated.
That room always felt like a trap to me; a prison of the mind that was freely entered and yet never fully left behind. Three floors above the finely mowed playing field I could only look out of the steel framed window, observing but not partaking. Even that view was blocked in by the arms – wings – of the building on either side of my own personal corridor of the unknown.
There had been no effort made to make this place inviting. The brick walls, not even plastered, had been coloured with some paint manufacturers version of apple green. It was unnatural, jarring against the simple true green outside, and oppressive.
The bed, desk and wardrobe carried the same feeling of un-right about them. The bed was too firm, with military neat sheeting that was ever so slightly rough between my fingers. The desk was too long, taking up the better part of two thirds of one of the long walls, and plain, so very plain. The wardrobe too was just simple light wood, but it carried no personality, no hint of former prisoners; no indication that I could form a life here.
No number of Erté posters, lovingly picked by a mother hoping to raise me out of student stereo typed wall adornments, could make this room a home. The carefully selected soft toys looked lost on the rough spun, foam filled, arm chair. My tie-dyed purple bed throw barely made a scratch in the faux-apple sea. I was adrift, alone, with a few planks of home barely keeping me afloat.
The shoals of my sixth form had contained none of that fear. I swam amongst the 2,000 individuals with ease. The flow of the crowd in the corridors carried me with it. I had friends in every eddy, at the tables near the vending machines, in the study rooms and on the benches outside the great glass entrance. I had been bold on that first day, hoping to throw off the heavy cloak of isolation I had wrapped myself in at high school; there were just five, among 2,000, who had known me at school, I had given myself the chance to be who I wanted to be.
One day, in that lonely green prison room, I would realise that my strength, my perceived independence, had only ever been possible because of the secure footing upon which I had stood and had so happily left behind. But that day was not this day, this first day, as I looked out on to the playing field, feeling so alone.