From the journal of Ryan Tucker
River Bend Academy of Art
I have arrived, and settled into my room, which is small just big enough for an old military style metal bunk with a thin mattress and a small desk with an old wooden chair. There is a closet low built in drawers and dowel to hang clothes on. The bathroom is down the hall.
The room is narrow with the desk at the end opposite the door and in front of a window, which takes up most of the wall above the desk that looks out onto a courtyard. I can see most of the college from here. The ceilings are high and curved at the edges with fancy moldings that have been painted over in the stark white of the walls. I will have to cover the walls with paper and paint and draw. I will get lost in all this empty white.
The dorm manager is a stout middle-aged East Indian woman with an expressive face and seems very kind and flustered, the kind of person who is always worrying about other peoples problems as much as her own. I am sure she knows all the secrets around here.
“You should call me Ms. B. I could tell you my name, but you will never pronounce it right anyway,” She said laughing, “So why should we both be put through that test. My late husband who was also from India and a very intelligent man, could never get it quite right. So why should I expect more from you.”
“It is not the Waldorf Astoria, you know, but it’s not a bad place to live for a while,” she told me as she opened the door to my room. “And, you know, there is no room service.” When she smiles, which is often, her whole face crinkles up.
There is nobody else here. They are either still away on break, or not arrived yet.
The air is dry and the sky cloudless and pale with smog around the edges. This is a flat place. To the east are hazy foothills and the faint outline of mountains. To the west about 30 miles, the smudge of ragged hills rise beyond which is the coast and San Francisco. I hope to get over there and see some art galleries and just look around before I get too busy.
It is just after 1:00 in the afternoon and it is very hot in here. The window is open but there is no breeze. I feel like I am sleepwalking. The long train ride made sleeping difficult along with the shock of new surroundings makes me feel as if I have traveled into another dimension. I look down on the courtyard and I can see very little that would date past the 1950’s. There are a couple of “modern for the ‘50’s” two story buildings, where the studios and classrooms are. The dorms are like early 1900’s barracks, 3 story “U” shaped buildings. Though obviously meant for more upscale clientele when they were built but have settled into a more low-rent quality, as if they have developed low self-esteem.
I can’t decide whether to go out exploring or sleep. I think I will get some sleep, and then maybe go out exploring. I will feel a little more adventurous if I am more alert.
After I woke up from my nap I decided to go for a walk. As I was leaving Ms. B, let me know that there is food in the kitchen to use as long as I clean up after myself.
“You would not believe the mess in here sometimes,” She told me eyes wide and finger wagging. “So if you not going to clean up, please eat somewhere else. But I know you are a considerate boy. I can tell,” she finished off with a wide crinkly smile. Her gestures and facial expressions are so exaggerated, but also sincere in the way she does not take herself too seriously. I have no doubt though that I should stay on her good side. I am sure she has her ways of keeping good boys in line.
I just stood there and nodded with a stupid look on my face. I never know what to say to people.
I walked on the paths around the college and found one up to the top of the levee. I looked out over the river for a while. Sitting there in the heat sketching the far bank as the shadows stretched, I wonder If I will meet people who will stretch me like Bella, or are easy to hang with like Dex or Maggie. Bella is always talking and jumping around so that I always felt 2 steps behind. For the first time I feel like I am on my own path. But I am pretty sure that will change when other students start showing up.