I am early.
I didn't want to be early, but I also didn't want to be late. So I had set my alarm, but got the time wrong. I could still be in bed. So here I am, wandering around two hours early.
Ugh, I need Angela to save me, but she's not here. I think she's camping for a few days up the coast. So I'm here. Alone, with my thoughts.
For the first time since I met Angela I am truly without her.
Is this a problem?
Of course not. I'm an independent human being. I can function.
But I've always had her as the buffer zone. If I was lost, or I felt overwhelmed, or didn't remember someone's name I've had Angela. She's like my own angel.
So here I am, strolling around the campus, trying to remember where all the different buildings are and mentally marking landmarks. I should walk around on my own more. Maybe everything will kick into gear and I’ll learn everything.
A phone somewhere pinged nearby. It was loud. I didn't see anyone retrieve it, perhaps I imagined it.
I've had an idea, and now my mind is occupied. It’s a wonderful day, the sun’s shining, and there is a cool breeze. The world seems to just be extra beautiful today.
I now see everything differently, vibrant colours everywhere. The greens in the grass and the trees. Brilliant, teal blue blankets the sky. Even the soft pink of a nearby flyer stuck to one of the pillars of that building there. However the colours are all enhanced somehow. They’re just… brighter, and beautiful.
I hear the beep again, and I see the world flash in a brilliant shower of coloured sparks. Every surface is alive.
Another beep follows with a shower of sparks, then a scrape, a step, a clang, and more sparks. There’s a chorus of noise that seems so chaotic yet so harmonious, in different tones and rhythms.
I can smell something sweet, flowery, but then is a slightly sharper smell. I realise it’s the leaves on the trees. Then I can smell the cement beneath me. It’s a harsh, bland smell.
I open my mouth and breathe in and the taste of a nearby café. I can taste coffee, bitter and invigorating, mixed with cinnamon from some pasties.
And now nature begins to move. The wind tugs at my clothes, swaying me. I can feel the earth shift, subtle and firm. The sun is warm on my face, but my clothes keep most of me cool.
It’s an overload of the senses, by a symphony of rhythm. A sound brushes past my ear, the wind changes direction, as something flashes with colour. The colours pulsate. Smells and sounds are sentient. The world moves in endless excitement. My wonderful paradise.
In this moment I feel entirely comfortable, and safe. I never played Dance Dance Revolution but I imagine that this is what it would be like if the world a giant dance pad.
Suddenly the world is bland, still, plain, and silent. There is someone standing in front of me.
I forget how to talk.
‘Are you okay?’
He seems slightly older than me. He’s tall, lean, black hair; and has a casual look of cargo pants and a jacket. His bag is slung over one shoulder. I realised that I still haven’t said anything.
‘Are you lost?’
‘No, no. Uh… kind of?’ He gives me a confused stare. ‘Sorry, I’m not lost. I’m early, and I don’t really know my way around, so figured I’d just wander for a bit.’
‘Oh, okay. It’s good to just walk sometimes. But you were standing still.’
I looked at the ground. I had stopped walking. ‘Ah, yeah. I was just… uh…’
Suddenly the world is losing its colour. I am a small grey person in a dead grey world. I feel pathetic and worthless, like a child; in the way and scolded for it.
I think he's realised I'm panicking, because he has put his hand on my shoulder. My whole body goes rigid.
'Would you like a tour of the campus? I've got some free time too.'
I look up into his eyes. They are kind, like that friend of Angela's I met last week. Jason. In fact, he looks a lot like Jason. Is he Jason? Then I hear Angela's voice ringing in my head. Just ask him you dunce!
'Are...' my voice shakes, '...you, Jason?'
'Oh, no, Jason is my brother. We're twins.'
My chest loosens. My breathing slows. I can see flickers of colour again.
'Oh, okay. I met him last week at the games.'
'Yeah, I would go but I've got to work at that time.' he holds out his hand. 'I'm Dame.'
I take a deep breath. 'Hi Dame. I'm Jordan.'
'Hey Jordan. Nice to meet you. Did you want to walk around?'
In this moment my chest is painfully tight. My throat has a lump in it and I can feel every reflex telling me to run away. But there’s a new addition to my anxious routine.
Calm down. You’re fine. Deep breaths.
So I take a deep breath, look back at Dame, ‘Sure. That’ll be awesome.’
Dame spins around and gestures with his hand to move forwards and starts walking. I run a few steps to match him then settle into a walk, focusing on my breathing before getting distracted by his description of the world around me. He’s more focused on the social hotspots than the classes, but that’s okay.
I feel myself smile as the world slowly returns to colour. Like someone’s spinning a dial as I walk. Occasionally I see another surface flash brightly, and another smell and sound accompanies it. And I hear this wonderful voice mocking me.
I don’t mind that voice so much.