Early September in Wisconsin, typically nice weather and today was no exception. As the miles counted down, my nerves were going up. I am weird in the fact that I like change, but am always nervous or too scared to do it myself. I had no choice, this was it.
Finally, Whitewater, time to move into my new home. We left home early in hope to beat the move in crowd. I think everyone else had that same thought. Cars everywhere, small refrigerators, microwaves, storage containers, boxes, clothes…..this was going to be a long day competing with the elevators and small hallways space. Well, elevators were a bad idea because of the massive amounts of people fighting for its precious space, but I only lived on the second floor, so the stairs would work just fine. After taking several loads of my possessions up into the small cell that would be my room I realized that airflow in this building was going to be a problem, my word was it hot. First thing was first; we had to assemble the loft that my dad had built for my sister when she went to college. That bed was six years old and did not want to be put together easily. I was quickly jealous of everyone else that spent the extra money for the pre-made lofts that quickly snapped together. I already knew of one thing I had to change, this bed had to go.
Room 215 is ready! Well, for now. My roommate had yet to show up, so I was expecting that we might have to move everything around again to accommodate his stuff. Especially since he said he would be bringing a large TV for the room. His name was Chris, we only talked once, briefly, on the phone. He told me he was going to buy a new TV and would bring an Xbox. I said I had a fridge and a microwave, so we were set. That was the phone call, a brief two minutes. I think it was pretty awkward for both parties. I was, however, very nervous about this kid because his house was literally two blocks from the dorm in which we were staying. Why didn’t he save money? Then I thought about if for a while, large TV, Xbox (at the time the latest and greatest of all video game systems), big screen TV (well 32" is about as big as a dorm can hold)…..this guy was loaded! Or so I had hoped.
Now, as I said, everything was set, everyone’s parents were leaving, so it was time for me to let go of my dependency once and for all. So, went and had supper, and said our goodbyes. Yeah, I knew I still had them to rely on if possible, but from here on out, I am in control of my life. Mwa ha ha!
I was excited with what was to be my collegiate career. I obviously knew the stories people always have about college where all anyone does is drink and have sex with every hot co-ed in sight. I obviously knew these were Hollywood fabrications, but they had to have some truth, right? There was only one way to find out! First, there was this important matter of the Wisconsin Badgers football team, they were playing Oregon in what was billed to be a great game.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
I answered the door and it was my RA (Resident Assistant) saying that I had to go to Freshman orientation. It couldn’t have been a worse time, I wanted to watch the game, but I guess I had to do what I had to do. Droves of freshmen were following the same path to the Young Auditorium for what was sure to be a boring event.
I didn’t really talk to anyone yet, I am sort of a shy person with people I am not comfortable with, but when I sat down in the auditorium the guy next to me had no problem starting a conversation. Problem, he talked like how I would picture a homosexual person to talk. I have never encountered a gay person before, so I tried to play naïve. I was trying to not think about it, but this kid was coming across flaming.
Let’s step back a bit. I grew up in what I learned to be an abnormally small town. I knew I grew up in a small town, but the reactions I would get for the following years of my life would make it seem as if I was a foreigner. To me, it is what I knew. It was a small farming town, surrounded by other small farming towns. Each town is proud of being independent of one another. The thing is with these small farming towns is there is no diversity.
Back to the auditorium with the obvious homosexual sitting next to me, talking up a hell of a conversation, mostly to himself, as I had little input. I want to get this clear, I am not a homophobe, what people do in their personal lives’ is just that, personal, but I was very, very uncomfortable for this being a complete shock to my system for a first day. Fun fact, that kid was roomed up with a guy who was a complete homophobe, it was like a sitcom in the making! Anyways, the orientation was boring, as predicted, but they said something of free ice cream, and while that Badger game was really, really important to me, I decided to grab a cone and head back right away.
When it comes to directions, I often get myself turned around. This first night, I was trying to walk back to my dorm room to finally watch the game. On my walk, I started talking with some other guy who was on his way home from the orientation. Funny story, this man happened to be black, which, wasn’t then and isn’t now a deal in any way, but once again, white, rural town. The closest thing we had to a black person in our school was a dark skinned white guy, who was our ‘token’ black guy. So, gay guy, then a black guy on my first day…our little Dustin is growing up and becoming more socially aware!
I walked the wrong direction! Yeah, walked back to the dorms with this dude, and I was on the wrong end of campus, shit! I had to hustle now; this game had to be getting over soon. I skipped through this large, torn up area that was under construction near where the visitor’s center was. I recalled my building, Knilans, was near a water tower, so using that as my guidance I was back on the right track. Sure enough, I find another person to talk with, this guy had a Badger skin on his big brick Nokia phone, so we got talking a lot about the Badgers, this guy was a huge fan and he lived on my floor, in the triple room (this room will be a significant part of my Sophomore year). Seemed like a friendship in the making right there. I am not sure I ever saw that guy again…which, is really weird considering he lived two doors down from me.
Finally, my room, still no roommate, I was able to watch a crucial point in the game, the Badgers were driving for the win, and then Nick Davis dropped what seemed to be an easy pass to catch, and cost the Badgers the game….devastating! Anyways, it was a long day, I was tired, and so I climbed up the ladder to bed. It wasn’t long before I heard many drunk voices in the hallway. I probably should have tried to party! My first night, a Saturday, in college, and I went to bed early and didn’t party, it just didn’t seem right. I could be missing out on lots of fun! I vowed I would not get shortchanged on my college experience, and peacefully went to sleep.