A Life Inside-Out
Thursday 25th Jan 2018
Well this is all very pretentious. I never thought I’d see myself earnestly writing the words “dear diary” in a book, but apparently freezing to death on the cold pavement can inspire you to new lows.
Since I’m stuck here, and this classy, leather-bound journal is one of the few items I managed to grab in my haste, it seemed like a good idea to put these creamy pages to use
recording my memoirs for posterity. Particularly because if my so-called best friend Shane doesn’t get his arse home within the next hour I’m going to die of frostbite.
Let’s start with an interesting fact about me:
- My name is Sophie Dayton;
- I’m an orphan,
- I’m currently homeless.
Ok, I admit that was three facts. But they all seemed equally interesting and pertinent. And before you start thinking that this memoir is going to turn into a melodrama about a poor, homeless, orphan girl, let me assure you that the situation is not as bad as it sounds. For the first thing, I’m 18 years old, legally an adult and therefore (according to the government) no longer in need of parents. For the second, I only became homeless quite recently.
Actually very recently.
In fact, just a few hours ago.
You see, Dear Diary, I was expelled from university today.
“Oh no!” I hear you exclaim. “The girl is a lowlife. A criminal! She’s victim of the system. She’s fallen in with a bad crowd and is pursuing questionable activities.”
Not at all. Let me assure you, I’m a very law-abiding orphan. Ex-orphan, whatever… My parents might have died in a car crash when I was 8, but far from being left on the streets in some Dickens-worthy crisis, I was scooped up by the tender mercies of social services who delivered me into the loving arms of the first of a long line of foster families.
A stupidly long line of foster families, if I’m honest. I don’t know whether it was fate or administrative error that ensured I never stayed anywhere for more than a year, but chanting “Hi, I’m Sophie” in front of bored classmates at yet another new school became the refrain of my childhood. I like to tell myself it’s just because I was such a lovely and wonderful child that I ended up being passed from family to family. You know — so that more families could have the chance to enjoy me. Even people who should never be allowed near a child had the chance…
But let’s not dwell on the past. The point is that like many orphans, I had good and bad foster parents and it didn’t turn me into a criminal.
So now you’re wondering, if that’s true, how did I come to be kicked out of university? That, Dear Diary, is a very good question. And the answer is: I haven’t a clue. Not the foggiest. One minute I was a normal student. The next minute, unaccountably, I wasn’t.
Perhaps it’s best if I start the story from the beginning, meaning 11 o’clock this morning. It was a beautiful, damp January day and my brain was occupied with nothing more serious than my dimly throbbing hangover and the question of whether I should focus the morning’s procrastinatory efforts on YouTube or Twitter.
There came an imperious knock on the door of my student dorm room and I, being - like any good student at that time of day - still in my pyjamas, experienced a moment of indecision about answering it. It was too early and the knock too loud for it to be anything but bad news. Still, my sluggish brain failed to properly register that fact and I foolishly flung the door open, all ready to admonish the knocker for disturbing me at an ungodly hour…
…Only to be confronted by an evil witch, masquerading as a member of university staff.
She informed me that I was trespassing on University Property and that Dave, Jeff and Joe (gesturing to the nice gentlemen behind her) were here to escort me off the premises.
My worldly answer consisted of a single syllable. “Huh?”
Her second explanation was shorter and snappier: “Take your stuff and get out before we call the police.”
In hindsight, it was a mistake to fetch my student ID and rental contract and proffer them in an attempt to plead the legitimacy of my presence in my own dorm room. Those documents were promptly confiscated by Witchy-McWitchface, who then disappeared, leaving me to try and get dressed while also grabbing the essentials from among the stuff that the three bears were slinging into boxes.
I’d always found it extraordinary how my dorm room managed to accumulate stuff without the least effort on my part. It was equally extraordinary how quickly said dorm room was emptied of said stuff when attacked by three determined security guards. Within a minuscule amount of time they had packed the entire sum of my worldly possessions and loaded them into a van to be taken to “storage” - as was the response given to my frantic enquiries. They drove away promptly, leaving me on the pavement with nothing more than a rucksack and a sizeable panic attack. I’ve spent the rest of the day sitting in cafes, trying to calm down and Googling “surprise expulsion”.
90,000 hits, all of them related to soap operas. How appropriate.
I mean, if I hadn’t been paying my rent. Or if I had been one of those drug-dealing types that are always hanging around behind the Bearded Sailor. Or at the very least, consistently cheating on my assignments, I could have understood why they wanted to expel me. But even then, surely the university would have been forced to issue a warning first? Do I have an enemy? Am I the secret daughter of Russian aristocracy? Did the university uncover the secret of my tangled past and decide to kick me out in the interests of political neutrality?
(If that’s the case, then they’ve failed. I’m going to find my angry Russian family and let them loose on the culprits.)
I could speculate for hours. In fact I have speculated for hours. It hasn’t helped. At this point all I can say for sure is:
My laptop battery lasts for exactly 3 hours and 46 minutes.
Starbucks employees are remarkably punctual when it comes to shooing people out at closing time.
January is a shitty time of year to become homeless.
But all is not lost. At least I have friends. Or rather, friend. His name is Shane. We shared an economics class together in our first semester and were inseparable from the very first moment when neither of us had a pen and we were forced to share a stub of pencil that one of us found on the floor. We took turns writing one sentence of notes each and have been mutually dependent ever since. He’s a bit football-obsessed, but otherwise a decent human being. Also, he has a couch and has promised to let me sleep there for a few nights.
Of course, that was a few hours ago before he stopped answering his texts. I’m starting to wonder whether Dave, Jeff and Joe got him as well. I can just imagine them flinging Shane into a human sized box and carting him off to the unknown location where they’re currently storing the rest of my life.
Ok the cold is officially starting to drive me bonkers. I’m going to sneak in and see whether I can pick the lock on Shane’s door. It might seem slightly rude not to wait until one’s host gets home. But it’s probably ruder to die of exposure on one’s host’s doorstep and expect them to deal with your frozen corpse. I’m sure Shane will thank me helping him to avoid charges of manslaughter.
Note to self: check etiquette rules for dying
I don’t have any experience in lock-picking (I’m not that kind of ex-orphan), but I did once watch a series of YouTube videos on different survival techniques (don’t judge me, we’ve all been there). It didn’t look all that difficult and even a fruitless attempt to open a locked door is better than sitting here and slowly turning to ice.
All I need now is a hair pin.
List of items to prioritise when being evicted:
- Warm clothing (depending on season)
- Phones, laptops and chargers
- Hair pins