I will get back to proper blogging soon, I promise. I’ve been a bit ill lately, played a tonne of Witcher 3 (which is today’s strangely appropriate picture theme) and there’s so much stuff happening in my life, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today. I don’t normally talk about this sort of stuff – with anybody short of my closest friends, but that’s mostly the result of trust issues growing up (among a large list of such problems) and you kind folk have proven yourself helpful, useful, and you listen; which makes a nice change from the norm. So before we begin, you lot are awesome. Brilliant. Spectacular. Now where was I? Ah, stuff that’s happening. A terrifying and exciting thing called University. The preparation doesn’t bother me, that’s 90% sorted with 10 days to go. I’m going to study History, a subject I love and although the core module is an economic history of 20th Century Britain (yuk!), the optional ones involve the Crusades and calling Kant an idiot. All good courses provide that. However, I’m worried. It’s the first week of uni that has me a bit concerned.
In the UK it is traditional for universities to have ‘Fresher’s Week’, sometimes called Welcome Week to disassociate it with lots of drinking. The idea is that before studies actually get underway there is a week of socializing. The thing is, most people don’t know anyone else – and that is awkward as all hell. Imagine being in a room with hundreds of people you’ve never met and being expected to find friends. That is nerve wracking even to extroverts. And if you see someone who thinks they’ve got ‘it’ I guarantee they go back to their room and shit themselves about what sort of impression they made. It’s exciting and terrifying, so to shake the nerves a lot of people turn to booze. Not much at first, but you start chatting over a pint, then see this nice girl and have a drink with her and… you probably know how a little alcohol to calm the nerves becomes drunkenness.
Now, I tend to pride myself on many things: intelligence, empathy, and generally being a gentleman. Though my internet ego isn’t quite so chivalrous, the ‘real life’ me does his best not to let harmful emotions get the better of him with a lot of success. The nice Geralt of Rivia, that’s a decent approximation of my actual personality (incidentally, I’m 30 hours in and Witcher 3 is already GOTY for me). None of that tends to survive drink, so I won’t be touching it, not that I do anyway. I really don’t want to know what I’m like drunk.
So Fresher’s Week is something that daunts me just because of that awkwardness. But I’m actually fine with meeting new people; we all meet new people all the time. And in rooms of boys and girls in the various stages of alcohol consumption, acting the gentleman will probably score a lot of points with the sort of people I like. At non-drinking events, I’ll probably fall back on just being nice and making conversation. Years of debating and public speaking competitions have taught me more social skills than I thought myself capable of – so the socializing aspect of Fresher’s Week, whilst intimidating, will probably be fine. Probably.
However, there is one group of people and one individual that bother me.
The group is my flatmates. I will be sharing a kitchen with about 8 people and 8 people who have never met probably won’t be the best of friends within a week, even though I get the impression that such a transition is expected. In some cases, everybody shares responsibilities in others everybody does their own stuff and don’t really talk to each other. What if I don’t get along with someone? What if I set off the fire alarm trying out the oven and embarrass myself? (someone will do that, bet you £100) What if one of them is a total arsewhole who takes all the cookies? Or we could all get along fine. I just don’t know, it is not a situation I’ve ever been in. Whilst I am really looking forward to moving out, meeting new people and learning a bit about cooking, I dread what could happen if there is an argument. Both horror stories and fairytales about flatmates are welcome.
But that could be fine; onto something that I know won’t be fine – at least not completely. The individual, a childhood friend of mine, is going to the same uni on the same course. Surely that’s great? You ask – no, no it isn’t. I’ve recently met other friends I haven’t seen since I was a little kid, and they are all exactly the same as I remember them, but I know that she will have changed significantly. Ok, I can guess what you are thinking I'm thinking – what if we don’t get along now? What if it is awkward? But what if you do get on, won’t it all be fine? Ok, childhood story time. Gather round in a circle for a bonus point.
When I was growing up, for as long as I can remember, there were 4 of us that used to go round each other’s houses each week. Our mothers were all good friends so when they met up, so did we. And we all got on, myself and two guys who remain good friends, and her – the individual concerned. She was always a little bit separate to the rest of us simply because she didn’t go to the same primary school as the rest of us, but if memory serves me well, she liked seeing us. Very unfortunately, something happened in her life that I am not at liberty to divulge but it was life changing. It changed all of us a bit, and I was only affected indirectly. We still saw each other, albeit less regularly and sometimes she didn’t turn up. But we did still see each other. Then, gradually, she stopped seeing the rest of us seemingly for good.
This was when I was about 10-ish (it’s hard to remember exactly how old I was), but the 4 of us have met together on two occasions since then. When I was 12, and when I was 14. When I was 12, she was basically the same as she used to be, though she expressed some interest in history to me. Nothing else notable. That was the first I knew of our shared interest and the last too, until I found out she’d be on the same course as me – at the same uni.
But when we were 14, she was almost silent the entire time and had no interest in interacting with us. It was like she turned up out of courtesy and nothing more. She sat there playing Bloons Tower Defence 4 on my friend’s computer, and whilst my other friends just did their thing I tried talking to her. I think the only time she even slightly acknowledged our existence was when I gave her a direct complement, which I think was met with a halfhearted chuckle, though I cautious of trusting the memory of her response. But I do know this: she really didn’t want to talk and her attitude had changed in a way far more than what I knew could account for. Then, a couple of months ago we had another get together to celebrate our 18th birthdays, and she was nowhere to be found and I have long forgotten what she looked like. Though her mum did turn up briefly.
See the problem? We will not be able to avoid each other, and I want to get to know her again, but she might not want any of that. And even if she does, the fact that the years have not been kind will hang over our conversations.
So that’s the tale. I’m nervous of Fresher’s Week, what my flatmates will be like, and of meeting an old friend who doesn’t want to talk. Of those things I think it’s pretty clear which one bothers me most. Of course, she could have changed again in the 4 years since we last met – but given she moved very nearby last year and hasn’t dropped in to say hello tells me otherwise, I hope her life has improved more than mine (which is a somewhat depressing tale for another time) and that she is happier than when I last met her. I feel bad about not trying to speak to her myself, but I doubt it would be appreciated. However we will have to get to know each other again and that terrifies me. What should I say? What should I do? Should I try to act as if it’s old times? Because I don’t even remember what that was like. I just don’t know what to do. Both of us have changed significantly as we’ve worked through life flinging shit at us, and that will have changed how we view and remember each other. Put me in a room with 200 freshers or just with my long lost friend (a situation that may arise) and I’d prefer the tipsy teens, but me being me, I know what I will choose if it comes to that. Ugh, friendships, they’re so damn complicated.
So er… yeah. I’ll tell you how that goes in a few weeks. Gaming blogs coming SoonTM
PS: The Witcher 3 is amazing