Amazing Kids! Magazine

Hearing the Same Tune

By Sean Traynor, Editorial Adviser and Contributing Writer

 

Brian finished unpacking his clothes, putting them in the small closet the university had provided him. He looked around the room, observing the three twin beds and piles of personal effects, and he wondered how he could ever feel comfortable here. Arriving just this morning to begin his first semester at college had left him with butterflies in his stomach and a furrow of worry stamped across his forehead. How was he to ever fit in? Where would he find some friends? Was he destined to have four years of intense loneliness amidst a bustling city of students?

He heard laughter down the hallway as old friends clapped each other on the back and began to get caught up on their summer. Brian thought of his summer working in his father’s auto shop and the smells of grease and exhaust fumes came wafting back to him. He instinctively scrunched up his nose and then laughed as he realized that for the first time, he actually missed working in the garage, where everything was so familiar. He busied himself putting away his few things and sat on his bed, pretending to read a book. As his roommates arrived, he grunted a “hello” and buried his head once again in his book. One roommate was unpacking an army duffel bag full of workout clothes, gym shoes and cleats. As he put his high school trophy for Most Valuable Player on his desk, Brian understood that this roommate would be spending hours in the gym. The second roommate entered with a flourish and didn’t even bother to look his way. He had three suitcases in his arms with some fancy symbol that included a crest. Behind him were two men who replaced the new roommate’s bed with a futon and went busily to work as the boy sat like a king in his newly placed striped dish chair. When the two men were finished with the bed they gave him a curt nod and left, allowing the boy to immerse himself in a phone conversation on the latest electronic gadget.

Brian’s mother had told him that he would have an easy time making friends when he went away to college.

“There will be many kids from the inner city,” she assured him as she patted his hand. “You’ll have immediate friends in your roommates and it will grow from there,” she predicted wistfully as if she were remembering her old college days.

Brian knew that it would not be so easy for him. It had always been difficult for him to make friends. In high school, he always had to work at his father’s shop whenever he had free time. He would see kids from school riding by in groups headed to the latest party and he would just sigh once again. His close friends were Bud and Jim from the shop. Although they were 18 and 24 years his senior, he would spend hours talking to them about cars, sports or even the latest television show. They were never judgmental or critical – just good ‘ol buds from the garage. Each night after 5pm they would turn up the music over the overhead speakers and continue their repairs, their tool sounds making a symphony of accompaniment to the music. At times, they would join together in a spontaneous chorus and end up laughing at Bud, who was tone deaf.

A tear slowly streamed down Brian’s face, which he quickly wiped away with the back of his hand. He hadn’t realized how much he missed those old guys. But, as his father had told him over and over again, he would be working on his future now – a better future. He didn’t know what was wrong with what he had been doing with his father. He was settled and happy in his small world of the garage. Yes, the teachers had all told him that he had a gift for science and he could do so much with his life, but he wasn’t sure yet what he wanted to do.

Brian slipped his earphones on his head and lost himself in his music. He knew his music would drive him away from his negative thoughts. He leaned his head back against the wall and let the background base and rhythm take him to another place. He found himself relaxing as the music lured him to his happy memories. With a smile on his face, he listened to song after song until it was time to go to bed. Taking a long stretch, he jumped out of his haze and made his way down the hallway to brush his teeth. Softly he could hear music down the hall that stopped him in his tracks. The music called out to him, being the same sort of rhythms and vocals he always enjoyed listening to. For just a split second, the dorm seemed more like home. He was pushed out of his state of contentment by another student pushing by him to take the last sink in the bathroom.

The first week was a blur. He had to walk what seemed like a mile in between each class in a crisscross pattern to attend each lecture, using the full 10 minute passing time to make it there by the bell. He vowed to use some of his savings right away to purchase a bike so he’d have a few minutes of free time before class to talk with some of the other students. The classes were larger than he was used to. The freshman requirements included a Business 101 class that had over 400 students. Straining to listen to the lectures and catch each flipping slide made in-class conversations impossible. How could he feel so alone in a school of 18,000 kids?

Each night Brian would complete his homework and take twenty minutes to listen to his music and relax. His classes were going well and he could now see how he could last out the next four years at the university. The music allowed him to pull a little bit of home back into his life without spending the money calling his dad. He also started noticing that every night there were moments when the music down the hallway would float up to him. It was like a siren calling his name, begging him to come to its origin.

The third night of the second week Brian once again made his way to the sinks to brush his teeth. There again, was that music that stirred his soul. This time, however, he followed its beckoning melody and headed down the hallway.  The rhythms and sounds made his mood soar and he was looking forward to finding out who was associated with the music. He found the dorm door, knocked, and was welcomed inside.

There inside was another classmate that he had noticed around campus. He was sitting on his bed, iPod in the sound station broadcasting the music, books opened around him.

“Nice tunes!” Brian found himself saying with a smile.

The boy smiled back and Brian knew that he had definitely found his first friend. He slowly let out a breath, releasing the hidden fears and frustrations of the past few weeks. The new boy motioned to a chair nearby for him to sit in and Brian finally felt completely at home.