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It was early March. The trees were finally blossoming and the cold air of winter was finally subsiding. My school was in a small town that just screamed “built in the 1800s”. It was quiet and nothing ever happened there. It was a favorite spot for out-of-town speakers to come to, however, as we were known as a progressive school. Personally, the idea of “progressive” being used as a kinder term for “overly sensitive” was beyond irritating for me. At some point, I just accepted that there was nothing I could say or do without someone somewhere getting offended. Thus, I didn’t go out of my way to make friends.
I was stuck in a degree I neither loved nor hated, but was succeeding in. I kept to myself every day and did my work on the most basic level I could manage even if it meant waiting until the last minute. Passing was not an issue, being exceptional was. Even so, I was known as a quiet, studious, albeit distant, student who did what she was asked with little to no objections. It was a stagnant, boring, and empty time in my life…and I would give anything to go back to it.
That one day in March, specifically, I was trying to find it within myself to complete a composition I had been neglecting for weeks, but I was consistently distracted by my mother sending me pictures of my dog. A miniature golden doodle named Honey. Yes, that project was meant to be part of my senior recital happening in a month, with a hearing in three weeks, I just as much needed to put that dog in my lap and fall asleep for hours on end. If God was willing, the recital would just be cancelled and I would no longer have to worry about it. But alas, every time I checked my email, I was met with nothing. Such is the pity.
Regardless, I sat in front of the computer screen in the corner of the library where no one could bother me. The sheet music I had up was still blank with the exception of my name and the title. Multiple pieces of multiple genres with limited instrumentation and vocal parts. It was an easy assignment for the likes of me…but it never inspired my best work, thus I just didn’t do it.
The atmosphere of the library was as casual as ever, but it was far too loud almost all the time. A group of girls in the middle at a desk talking too much about how they “totally and literally” died when watching a fail video, a group of guys behind me going on and on about a professor who was notorious for grading too hard, and then there was me. I almost felt bad taking up space at a computer I wasn’t really using. Just as I decided to leave, my mother sent another text.
“When’s your recital again?”
“Would you be offended if we came?”
“That depends. Will you bring the dog?”
“Wish I could. I’ll buy you another dog if you give us some beautiful music, though.”
“Say no more. I want a husky.”
“We’ll see. Love you <3.” My put my phone down after that, groaning as I stared at the blank screen yet again. I wasn’t going to accomplish anything that day. I logged off and gathered my belongings. I was so frustrated with myself. I was supposed to be in the editing phase of my work, yet there I was with close to half of my work still incomplete. If I was lucky, no one would notice the rushed product, provided I actually got around to it.
I left the library and watched the students around me go about their day. Most were smiling and laughing, some were crying from the stress, and others were hammocking, enjoying the nice weather while we had it. It was chilly enough for a sweater, but it was a beautiful day, nonetheless.
I decided to just go back to my dorm. I had my own room, which was one of the many privileges of being a senior. My dorm was one of the nicer ones as well, and the rooms actually had air conditioning! Not that that was a big issue in Maine, but it could still get quite hot when it wanted to.
Once I was in my room, I locked the door behind me and threw my stuff down. At my feet, I almost tripped over my ESA, a beautiful Maine Coon named Sonny. Why Sonny? Because it was the first thing my father said when we saw him, as if they already knew one another, and it just stuck.
Sonny was allowed in my room due to a list of reasons. After years of increasing depression, fear of the future, and an inability to make and then maintain friends, I was, long story short, put under watch. To lessen the amount of time I spent alone, I was cleared for an ESA, an Emotional Support Animal. The explanation is exceptionally watered down, but I don’t want to go into the series of events that led to that decision being made. Not yet.
I laid down on my bed and looked at the ceiling, Sonny immediately hopping up to lay beside me. His purrs were exceptionally loud, but soothing. He rubbed his head against my hand and I returned the gesture by scratching his head. On the walls around me were birthday cards from the past four years and drawings from my younger cousins. I still even had the “Welcome Home” certificate from the sorority I was a part for one year.
That was another reason I didn’t go out of my way to make friends. The one time I did, stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something so out-of-character, like jumping into a sorority, I regretted it. I felt welcomed, sure, but I didn’t feel comfortable. I could never force myself to be friends with people I barely knew. It didn’t matter that we all called each other ‘sister’ or whatever, it just never felt right.