It’s the summer of nineteen ninety-eight and it’s unseasonably hot for late August in Seattle. I’m sweating so bad that I have big armpit stains on my tank top as I scrutinize the old brick building. Students are bustling about resembling ants in front of an anthill. The old brick building is their anthill.
My dad is pulling books and CDs out of the back of the Honda.
My mom is squinting in the sunshine, politely taking it all in and I can tell that she doesn’t like what she sees. The building is old. The rooms are small and there is a decidedly musty smell to the place. Mercer hall appears to be the oldest, most run down dormitory that the University of Washington offers to their freshman students. Of course, they assign that dorm to me. I’m a reluctant student, but I’m not really given an option.
All the Jorgeson girls will go to college whether they want to or not. Getting a full ride scholarship sure doesn’t help my cause. Dad doesn’t see the humor in blowing off my scholarship and traveling around Europe until I can see myself as a college student.
I don’t give the building much thought one way or another. My attention is hijacked as soon as I glance down the hall and notice the hot red head casually leaning against the wall. My parents don’t know about my preference for women. The red head catches me staring and winks. I’m not sure who she’s winking at, so I turn my head around looking for who this hottie can be winking at. There is no one else in the hallway and I start blushing as I realize the wink is intended for me. I can’t let my parents see me staring, so I look away and focus on my family who are all loaded up with my belongings as they enter the narrow hallway.
“Hey, Nicky, which room is yours? This junk is heavy,” my sister calls out to me.
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Its right here, room two ten. Who asked you to come here anyway?”
I act like I don’t want my sister here seeing me off to college, but I really do. My younger sister, Tess, is my best friend. We are only one year apart in age and we always hang out together. I’m really going to miss her, but I can’t admit that to her.
“Nicky, be nice. You know you are going to miss Tess, so stop acting like you’re all tough.” For some reason my mom feels compelled to point this out.
“Well, this building has a certain amount of old world charm,” my dad, the eternal optimist, remarks.
“You gotta be shitting me. This is the oldest dorm on campus and it’s not some historical landmark, Dad, it’s just old and worn down.”
I can’t help being a little snarky. Remember I want to travel the world, not live in some old musty building with a bunch of silly freshman girls who are looking to find some hot guy to shack up with.
“For such an intelligent young woman, you sure find it hard to resist using profanity. Really, Nicky, I thought we taught you better than that.” My mom seems to forget her colorful language when she’s pissed at my dad.
I just want them all to drop my shit off and leave me to get settled. I also want to find the red headed hottie. If I’m lucky, she lives in the worn down rat hole I’m about to spend the next year of my life in.