Today is R’s first day of college. Even though she studied a lot in high school – too much some would say – this was not her first choice of college.
Sitting across from R, two seats back, is P. P was very nervous this morning, so much he puked after having breakfast. Because he was living by himself for the first time in his life, nobody knew, and he was the one who had to clean it up.
They don’t know it yet, but P and R are going to be friends. Not at first, but after meeting they are going to make a silent pact. P and R will unite against the judging eyes of the others. I’ll seat with you, if you’ll seat with me. I’ll have lunch with you, if you’ll have lunch with me. I won’t let anyone see that you are actually alone, if you don’t let anyone see the same about me.
R and P met on their third day of school. The first day was just an emotional wrecking ball. The humiliation of appearing lost while looking for the classrooms was just too much for R. On the previous night, she had memorized her timetable, R could tell you by heart the exact name, time, and place of each of her classes. Finding them was another matter entirely, however. While she walked around the corridors looking for the room numbers on the doors, she could feel everyone staring at her and judging her. R felt very tiny and foolish next to them, she was afraid of asking where some place was, and when she did her voice and hands trembled uncontrollably. She would say the wrong thing, or say it the wrong way.
To deal with these judging stares, P decided to be on his phone at all times. Either texting, playing a game, scrolling through Facebook, or just staring at an empty screen. By this people would think he was a very cool and sociable person. If he could pretend to be busy, his movements felt more natural, he wouldn’t feel as self-conscious about being alone waiting for the class to start, while everyone else already had a big group of friends.
Besides, by the second day, P had told himself that he would just go to classes and go back home, he was in college to study after all, so that’s what he was going to do. He was not expecting, however, that the person who was sitting next to him had a different plan in mind.
Only by her third day did R get the nerve to make a friend. Whoever sat next to her on her first class of the day. She was going to fuel a conversation with everything she got, and she would not let go of that person.
R took a deep breath and said Hi to the boy sitting next to her. P was defensive and only replied with a very cool grunt, in his opinion.
And this was how P and R first met. If they eventually became best friends, or found other people instead and drifted apart, I cannot say. What I do know is that each and every one of the people in that room felt as lost and alone as they did, and were they not too proud, or insecure to admit it, they would have realized that too. Everyone is just pretending.