“Here we are! St Joseph’s college!” My mom sang as we pulled up to the old Edwardian building. It had dirty windows, crumbly bricks walls and the road to it was blocked up with cars and small trucks parked up with people unloading boxes and bags. Out of my mom’s window, there was a large and full car park with a football pitch on the other side that leads to a forest. Scattered around the car park and the grounds of the college were groups of students and a lot of them. Rich preppy girls, muscular beefy jocks, dark punk kids and short shy nerds. No one I could hang with. It wasn’t even my idea to go to college. I was going to get a passport with the money I had saved up and travel the world with my half-brother’s band. But my mom wanted me to get the ‘fun college experience’ and ‘meet cute boys for us to gossip about’ and ‘have my sweet first kiss’ and get some qualifications in music to get a job I wanted in music, that paid. I stopped listening to that conversation not long after it began and listened to one of my favourite bands my chemical romance instead. That was in the summer. But the one thing I learnt from that conversation is that my mom is a lovesick hippy that I’m nothing like. I’m Hayley by the way.
“St Joseph’s college ms Thompson,” my family’s driver Edgar said opening the limo door; yes a limo to college. My parents insisted on me going in style to college and ‘not like normal people’ they said. I just wanted to go and be myself at college and not get labelled as a rich brat. I wanted to work for success and not get it handed to me on a silver plater like a lot of things had been in my life. I hated that, but I couldn’t ever tell my parents. So for 18 years of my life, I had to bite the bullet. But that’s all different now and I was excited about it. Edgar lifted my small suitcase out to the limo trunk that had my ‘uniforms’ inside it. We didn’t even have a uniform at the college! Yeah, some of the girls here wore pleated skirts with blazers and knee-high socks but others wore sweatpants and baggy t-shirts, which I was never allowed to do in my life! I had to practically beg my parents to let me go to this college and not ‘best college in the county’ which was Millhouse prep college. I would die if I went there! They don’t have fun and their idea of a party is playing polo at a county estate with some famous ex-marine or old politician’s kid. I don’t have anything against that but it just isn’t me. Me is Louisa! Nice to meet you.
“Alright freshmen, this is college, get to reception to get your keys and timetables,” the 50-year-old bus driver, with really heavy bags under her eyes, said to us and took a drag of her cigarette. Good message to give to kids lady, I thought. This dump was the only place that was available to me because of my grades and my family’s cash. My mom provided Zack, my older bro, to go to college but I just managed to scrape enough together to go. Hey, she does love me and she did her best to save some money but she couldn’t work a lot because of her health. Plus Zack wanted nothing else but to go to college. The flat that we lived in was falling apart and smelled like mouldy tacos and old farts, but it was the only thing, my mom, a single parent with two kids, could afford. I’m only coming to college for her thought, I didn’t wanna disappoint her. I even got a train from Chicago to Seattle cos my mom was in New Jersey visiting my dad for some random reason. He was a douche that left mom when I was two and Zack was five. They grew up there too which made me think mom was seeing family and dad, but why I had no clue. After the long train ride, I got this bus from the station to the college, which was in the middle of nowhere might I add. It must be popular because there were tonnes of kids moving into the building. “Z...Zay...Zaylia?” The bus lady had trouble reading my name. I jerked my head when I heard her voice and pulled my rucksack over my shoulder more.
“Zayla,” I corrected her and she nodded then handed me my old brown suitcase and my black case that had my laptop and recording stuff in it. “Careful!” I warned holding on to them securely. She rolled her dull eyes and carried on unloading the bus. I then turned to the buildings which were crummy and big. Let’s get this over with, I thought. In case you did get it before because of the brainless bus driver, the name’s Zayla. Zayla Matthews. Sup’
The Overtones CD I got for it Valentine’s day was playing in the car as Vinny drove me up to the college. He was singing along badly getting the words wrong too making me giggle none stop. When he was looking away from me I stole his dark retro shades from him to try on. He yelled out ‘hey’ in protest but ended up smirking at me because I looked good in them. I knew that as much as he did. Vinny stopped the car near a less busy entrance to the building on the left side of it. I climbed out of his car, smoothing my black pencil skirt and dark red blouse then grabbed my leather jacket from the back seat and my red retro suitcase with all my clothes packed into it. I then walked around the car to the driver’s side and kissed my boyfriend on the check and his shades back.
“Au revoir Vinny,” I said his nickname smoothly and he gave me a wink. I walked up the steps with my hips swaying. He wolf-whistled lowly and I turned on my heels to blow him another kiss.
“Au revoir baby,” he replied, his pronunciation was bad but I smiled. He put his car, which was a red open roof Ford from the 1950s, in reversed and drove back down the road waving all the way. My goodness, it was going to be hard not seeing my boyfriend for at least 2 months while he worked none stop. But it was college in America which I was excited about. My name is Nicolette and I’m from Canada.
Granny sang out loud to the Dolly Parton record that was playin’ on the radio. It was blue smoke, her favourite song. Dolly was a legend to the world and ma granny, an old friend o’ hers. When she was a young’un she toured the states bein’ Dolly’s backup singer with two other girls. Granny retired from music when she was 36 to start a family with ma grampa in Texas and she never had contact with Dolly again sadly. Before you start readin’ that again to work out some o’ the words, it’s my southern accent. I’m from the south, Texas, case ya haven’t guessed, and it’s the way most folks speak there so get used to it. Granny had driven me to the fancy college buildin’ that I stared at in awe when my eyes saw it. Granny even said it was like the buildin’ she went to school at. Her old blue pick up came to a bumpy stop and some mighty funny sounds were comin’ from the engine. A few of the rich city kids laughed pointin’ rudely at me as I got out but I ignored ‘em. I was at college to be maself and ma mamma always told me to do that because everybody else is taken. From the back o’ granny’s pick up I got ma box with some things from home sweet home, ma suitcase with ma clothes and ma guitar case. The thing I treasured most.
“You remember to call ya mamma when you get settled in Carrie!” Granny called. Her southern accent thick as butter. I was gonna miss hearin’ that. Everybody in this state talks funny to me. I nodded and waved bye to granny as she drove off. I turned on my boot heels to the buildin’ and grinned widely. College is new to me and I was gonna make the most of it! St Joseph’s get ready for Ms Carrie Isabelle Phillips!