We all decide to eat together in the evening, Jen and I volunteer to host since we have the biggest living room and we’re keen to make friends. We order pizza and sit on the floor surrounding the low coffee table. I already feel comfortable, it seems as if we’ve all known each other for a lot longer. This new family of mine is relaxed and I’m enjoying their company. We’re all hungry so the food disappears quickly and then we begin to get to know each other a little more.
“So, Marcus, you want to be a doctor?” Rio throws his pizza crumb in the box, “Is it something you want to do? Or is it something your parents made you choose?” he laughs, but seriously we all want to know the answer to that one.
“Well, to be honest I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, nothing else ever interested me. My parents might have had a bit to do with putting it in my mind, but in the end, it was my decision to take medicine, and, I don’t regret it, it’s hard, but it’s interesting. I like biology and I want to cure people.” Marcus does seem like a helpful, kind hearted person. “So yeah, I like it. I’d like to go into curing autoimmune diseases eventually. Unless, I become a basketball player,” he laughs. “What about you guys? Engineering?”
Rio speaks next, “Nah man, like you said I wanted to play sport too.”
“Oh, so that’s where all the muscles are coming in,” Jen chuckles.
The boys wink and smile at the compliment.
Rio continues to flirt, “Yep, I’m a sporty person,” he gestures flexing his bicep. We all woo him on, “but it’s a lot of competition, so I took what I’m good at, designing stuff and I think equations which is kind of engineering, plus I like my cars so mechanics seemed to fit. I just go wherever life takes me.”
There’s a rush amongst us as he mentions cars, of course the boys like them, Jen and I were interested too but not Lia, she sighs in boredom at the subject.
“Engineering is good,” says Deq, “Good money, decent job and it’s interesting. I’ve always been into computers and video games. Ever since I got my first game, the Nintendo sixty-four…”
There’s another urgency of chatter as we all remember the classic from early on in our generation.
Deq continues, “Yeah, I know. So, I always wanted to invent my own.”
“Cool. Like the Dex Box Live! I look forward to it!” Brian laughs.
“That would be great!” Deq cheers.
I love Deq’s dream of designing his own game platform. It is impressive, video games and technology are our future.
Rio has a thoughtful question, “So can you hack stuff?”
“Ethically yes. Officially, you’re not allowed too, but yeah, I sure could. I have programmed software and I once hacked GTA for seventy million dollars – in the game!” Deq explains.
As everyone exchanges fascinated looks, I begin to get nervous thinking about my turn and how I’ll announce my dream, if it even comes up. I keep saying it over and over in my head to make sure it doesn’t sound stupid, but the more I say it, the more stupid it sounds.
“Hey! That’s illegal!” Lia interrupts my thoughts.
“What are you going to do about it, Judge Lia? Sentence me?” Deq replies cheekily, “Why are you studying Law anyway?”
“Well, to put it simply, I hate criminals, I hate crime and I like analyzing things to come to a conclusion, plus I was on the debate team for so many years that it’s kind of become my hobby and I love it! I want to make the world a better, safer place.”
Lia tells us it’s her dream to become a barrister and she’s almost there now. Law is interesting but it can be a headache – just like every job.
“Hey man, Brian, since we met, I wanted to ask, why the hell did you choose literature?” Rio asks.
Brian laughs, as if unsure what to say, “Oh man, don’t ask, I don’t know why I chose it. I wanted to be a basketball player too. My teacher at school said take literature, she was hot, and I took it. I still don’t know what I want to do but that stuff is just a dream and-”
“Just a dream!” Jen yells cutting him off.
She’s serious and we’re all a bit shocked at her abrupt yelling.
“You don’t think dreams come true Brian?” she asks glaring at him.
He falls silent and then she looks at each of us. Everyone shrugs or gestures in agreement with Brian, except me, I just sit there waiting for more from Jen.
“You have a dream?” Brian finally builds up the courage to ask her.
Jen’s face turns red, she looks at the ground and hesitates before answering, “I…well, when I was…a kid, I wanted to be a… an astronaut,” she looks up at us and forces a fake smile. The smile that I do.
“Really?” asks Lia as surprised as everyone else.
“I thought you were going to say something like a model, or fashion designer or something.” Brian says.
“What? You think a blonde can’t like science?” Jen argues a good point, “How stereotypical for a guy that studies literature.”
We all toot and mumble at the offense and tension between the two literature students.
Rio, as the person he is, makes things worse, “Ahh, I see a little something going on here.”
“Rio!” cries Jen, “There’s no thing, and this is an argument, a fight.”
“That’s how it starts,” he whispers to the rest of us.
The atmosphere is alive and although they are arguing and Jen is trying to make a good point, there is laughter and sarcasm in their playful voices.
“Oh yeah, so why didn’t you take astronomy or astrophysics?” Brian asks with a smirk.
Now Jen’s smile fades, her voice quietens. We all fall silent, waiting seriously for her answer.
“I, err, didn’t do very well in Physics, actually, I did, but in the retake and the retake doesn’t’ count when applying to university. They look at the first sitting grades only.”
Brian’s face fills with guilt, he apologizes gently and we all feel sympathetic towards her. Jen tries to call off the sympathy by saying she’s over it and that she’s fine and happy with literature, but I know that tone, she’s far from over it. I know what she’s going through. So am I.
“So Kye, what did you want to be?” Marcus asks me trying to move off the subject of crushed dreams.
This almost makes me giggle in a revolting way, “Well, since we’re on the subject… I have a dream…I wanted…want… to be an actress.” The words uncontrollably leak out of my mouth. A look of surprise fills everyone’s faces, even I am shocked at what I just said. How did I just say that? That’s far from what I was rehearsing in my head! I don’t know if it was the topic we’re talking about that made me spill the truth or the comfort of the people surrounding me, but it’s out there now and the silence is embarrassing me. “What?” I roll my eyes.
“Like a movie star? Like Hollywood?” asks Rio intrigued.
“You have more stereotypes? A tanned girl, long black hair, not too tall, not too pretty, needs glasses to read, studies science…can’t be an actress?” I really don’t know what I’m saying now, I’m just trying to hide my nerves.
“No, no, it’s not that, it’s just, why are you taking physics? Why don’t you go to acting school?” says Marcus.
That is indeed a question on everyone’s mind, and I have my reasons. “Well, I am the first person out of my entire family to go to university, to get this far in education. It is my parents’ dream to see me graduate and hang a graduation picture on their wall. To add more pressure, they tell me that my brothers look up to me! I have tried becoming an actress. I really have, but we all know that a key factor in this industry is luck. Pure luck or fate. I don’t need qualifications to be an actress, I need destiny to be on my side and luck, which by the way, I don’t have much of. So I just chose what I was good at - physics.”
“Do you still want to be an actress Kye?” Lia asks.
“So you are here, in the final stage of education, at university, studying a degree in physics, wanting to become an actress?” she finishes on a question but really it’s a statement. A statement that hits me hard.
I realize just how stupid I am, I got completely carried away! I am so stupid, and my stupidity has been exposed in front of a bunch of people that I just met! My face burns with the heat of embarrassment, I can almost see how red my cheeks have turned from the bottom of my eyes. My palms and forehead sweat. What was I thinking? I try to explain myself further, “As I said it is luck. If I take drama or go to acting school and still don’t become an actress, I’d have nothing. I wouldn’t even get a good job, and why the heck are we all at university anyway? To get a job, to earn a living, for the money. This way even if I don’t become an actress…” which I will, I think to myself, “…at least I’ll have a degree to fall back on. Right?” I end my justification impatiently waiting for someone to think that this is the right thing to do.
“I like that way of thinking,” says Jen.
I’m relieved that firstly someone spoke, and secondly that they agree with me and my way of thinking. She even nods at me. It’s like she’s reassuring me.
“Not everyone has the mind frame and the courage to pursue their dreams.” Jen makes a statement.
It literally feels like God himself is talking to me, telling me to follow my dreams. This is strange. I feel exposed but relieved. Is it good? Bad? I really don’t know. I don’t know what just happened in the last few moments. I feel numb, the air around me feels thick, yet the atmosphere feels spiritual. These mixed feelings confuse my brain.
Thankfully Rio breaks the silence by standing up and taking the empty pizza boxes into the kitchen, “Well, I don’t mean to break your hearts but honestly, dreams don’t really come true.”
“Yeah, realistically, I agree,” Brian adds, “Dreams don’t come true to people like us. That’s why they’re called dreams,” he finishes off his drink and follows Rio to the kitchen.
“I have to agree with the guys,” Deq joins in the negativity while Lia nods along.
Marcus also agrees and I nod along, humming, but thinking the complete opposite, trying to forget all that I have just said. As we tidy up, I notice Jen is lost in thought, her forehead is scrunched up and she’s quiet. There’s something about her that I really empathize with.
“Anyway, tomorrow is orientation or fresher’s fair as some people call it, so we can show you guys around if you want?” Marcus finishes picking up the cushions off of the floor.
“Yeah, maybe you could join the drama society? The school of acting is quite big here, you could make it a hobby,” Brian advises pointing at me.
Hobby? I hate that word.
We all agree to meet at eleven a.m. in the hallway, and on that note, they all leave. Jen shuts the front door and I switch off the kitchen lights. We walk towards our rooms making eye contact and giving each other a sympathetic smile.
“That was fun,” she says opening her door. “Although that Brian guy is a little too much.”
I laugh tiredly, “Yeah, it was fun,”
“Hey Kye…” Jen calls turning her head to look at me just before closing her door, “…don’t ever give up on your dream.”