The Consequences of Dissonance - Chapter Eight
Wednesday. I’d made it through all of my classes at least once.
My schedule had Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays fairly full with only composition and symphonic band on Tuesdays, plus a large block of time that I’d scheduled for my independent study type math class. So far, all I’d done in class, though was gotten a bunch of papers: syllabi, grading rubrics, a few questionaires. We’d played some sort of name game in all of my classes except for band, which still required another audition.
I ran into Eric a good deal at the new music building. It was quite a walk from the dorms and we both made the trek there for our early-morning classes. The fact that the building used to be the old Fort Collins High School only served to make everything seem more like my old school. The campus was open, sure, and the classes were more specific, but it was still walking around with a backpack carrying too much stuff through room-lined hallways.
Along with Eric, Joseph and Jamen took to spending a good deal of time in my room. It turned out that Jamen already knew my roommate from somewhere else, though he wasn’t exactly specific where from. On Tuesday night, I came home to find a TV occupying some of the empty space by the window between our two halves of the room. Jamen and Thomas were parked in front of it watching Starship Troopers, and the whole room smelled a little of nag champa incense and a muskier undertone. Judging from their giggles and glassy eyed stares, I could guess how Jamen knew my roommate.
And so… Wednesday. Trudging across campus on I had sat next to Kris during composition, since she was the only person there that I knew, and we talked a litte more as we made our way out of the engineering building, apparently the only place they could stuff this inconvenient class. She was into jazz and rock from Japan; I liked computers; she was raised Christian but felt more Buddhist about everything; I was apathetic, raised by apathetic parents; she wanted to be a writer, or at least an editor; I didn’t want to be a teacher, but it would make me money. She was a pretty funny girl, and one of the few people I had gotten to know in my five days at school, and she apparently felt rather the same way, so we made plans to get together for lunch the next day with a few of each of our friends.
And so… Wednesday. Trudging across campus on tired feet with my mug of coffee, talking with Eric to keep from spacing out.
“Man, I’m friggin’ jealous of my roommate. His classes don’t start until nine. I mean, I guess that’s only an hour later, but that’s an hour of precious sleep,” he whined.
“I hear ya.” I swapped hands holding my mug so I could shake the other one out. August mornings were much warmer down here on the plains than up in the hills. “It’s like.. all our academic classes are in the morning, in music, and all our ensembles in the afternoon.”
“Well, it’s good for us singers. We had choir in the morning in high school, and it’s pretty rough.”
“I guess it makes sense, yeah. Everything started at seven thirty in high school, too. Dunno why eight in the morning feels so damn early now.”
“Wow,” Eric laughed. “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you curse. Did your parents always get down on you for that?”
I felt my cheeks redden, but chuckled along with him. “Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to cuss at home, and guess I never got around to it at school.”
“Never got around to it,” Eric smiled. “Fuck. Goddamn shit,” he added and I burst out laughing at the look of relish on his face.
“Yep, fuck,” I said in response. “It’s hard to shake the feeling of living under someone else’s rules when you’ve done it for eighteen years.”
Eric nodded, “We’re free now, though.”
Walking through the underpass beneath College Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Fort Collins, I remembered about Kris, “Oh yeah, going to lunch at Parmalee with this girl I met in my composition class and some of her friends. Noon. Want to come, too?”
“What? Meeting girls already? You band kids are such players,” Eric laughed as I socked him in the shoulder.
“It’s not like that, I promise,” I said, adding silently, ‘I don’t go for girls.’
“Sure, that’s what you say now. Anyway, yeah, I’ll come along. I think Joseph has class, but if I run into him, I’ll get Jamen to come along too, if you want.”
“Yeah, go ahead. You’ll probably see him before I do.”
Eric nodded and waved, ducking up along a more northerly path towards his class as I continued on toward the front of the building and my theory class to review what I’d already learned in highschool.
Theory was followed by history, where I spent more time looking at the teacher than listening to him talk. I shook myself out of it a few times, trying to convince myself to pay attention. I’d always catch myself staring again; at least it looked like I was paying attention. He was a grad student and a bit of a looker. He reminded me of Jamen
I had a spare hour after history before a manditory meeting of the music department and I decided against the long walk home if I’d have to walk back. I walked around for a few minutes before I found a few chairs on the landing of the grand staircase above the entry way to the school. I picked one in the corner and pulled out a book to read, but I wound up getting distracted by the singers next to me talking and laughing, letting myself get caught up in their conversation.
The departmental, the meeting I had to go to, turned out to be just a bunch of rules I’d already read, so I spent most of the time zoning out. I had skipped breakfast and was looking forward to lunch. Food and friends.
Despite time dragging its heels, eleven fifty rolled around before too long and Eric and I hurried out of the music building. The dorm we were eating at, Parmalee, was most of the way across campus, and we weren’t even technically on campus. We walked quickly and laughed as we talked along the way. We even met Jamen in the plaza in front of the student center by chance and dragged him along with us, easily overcoming his objections of wanting to take care of his math homework, the same type of stuff I was supposed to be doing.
We were only five minutes late for our noon o’clock lunch at the dorm and waited to be swiped in to see Kris and one of her friends loitering just past the entrance. She smirked at us as we we waited to have our IDs scanned, tapping at her decidedly watch-less wrist. I gave her a helpless shrug and a stupid grin.
“Hey Cory,” she said, gesturing to her friend. “This is Erin, my roommate.”
“Nice to meet you. This is Eric,” I gestured in turn, feeling stupidly formal as I did so. “And Jamen.”
There was an awkward pause for a moment before Kris burst out laughing and we all chuckled, “Effin’ stupid. We gotta get food before I implode.”
We made our way across the dining hall and then down a narrow hallway to what was apparently another section of the cafeteria, Kris explaining over her shoulder, “Parmalee and Corbett are attached at the kitchen. The Corbett side’s better. All sorts of Mexican and stuff over there.”
We split up when we got to the Corbett side and each went to one of the different ‘restaurants’ they had over there. Kris, Jamen, and I wound up waiting in line for quesadillas while Eric and Erin sought out one of the main entree lines; they seemed to be hitting it off fairly well.
“So how’s the whole school thing going for you guys?” Kris asked, leaning back against one of the poles of the rope barrier, standing on the base with her heels so that it didn’t tip over.
“Good enough,” I mumbled. “Boring so far.”
Jamen shrugged and crossed his arms over his chest, “Too much politics.”
“Wow, already?” Kris winced.
“Yeah. You can tell some of the teachers don’t like the others in the art department, and there’s all this seniority crap that some people take way too seriously.” Another shrug, then, “Oh well, it’s all good. How ’bout you?”
“Oh, I dunno, I’m having fun so far.” She nodded her head at me as she said, “Our comp class is a bunch of crap. I think our teacher’s a fundamentalist.”
I laughed and nodded, “She’s pretty nuts.”
Jamen grinned and nodded, “Mine too. We started talking about writing arguments, like how to argue a point, and she wants us to focus on gay marriage this semester.”
“So? What side are you going to write about?” Kris asked. She had gotten there before me. It was one of those innocuous questions that could tell you about your friends before you outed yourself to them. Couch it in a current news item.
“Well,” Jamen mumbled, blushing now that he was on the spot. “I’m all for it. Gay marriage, that is.”
“Good!” Kris laughed and looked pointedly at me, “I’d have to question your taste in friends, Cory, if Jamen here was against it.”
I blinked, taken aback, “Er? Well… why?”
“Well, my brother’s gay, but too lazy to be an activist about it, so I do it for him!”
We laughed a bit and I swallowed the rising bile — I had been worried that she knew that I was gay and was about to blurt that out in front of Jamen. I had wanted to tell everyone on my own terms.
Jamen, being the first in line, got his quesadilla first and wandered off to the table that Eric and Erin had picked out and were already holding an animated discussion over. Kris watched him go, then looked at me side-long, “And you are too, aren’t you?”
Stunned once more, I nodded a little bit.
“It showed in your reaction.” She looked at me a little more intently and laughed, “Hey! Relax! I just said I was alright with it, didn’t I? Its not like I’m gonna shun you and tell all your friends.”
I must’ve relaxed visibly because Kris giggled again and gave me a half-hug, one hand taken up by her quesadilla on a plate. I returned the hug awkwardly. With her hair, she came up to about my nose. She smelled like peppermint. “Just relax, get your food.”