I’m Moving Out: Looking Back at My Freshman Year

For the past nine months, I’ve lived in a small white room with a concrete floor. I have a twin bed with a hard mattress, a wooden desk and closet, and a window where I can look out into the street and see the people passing by. I have a calendar that is still stuck in January, a dusty traffic cone, and a “My Neighbor Totoro” poster above the light switch. And now, I have boxes and suitcases lining my walls so I can bring everything back home again. 

Nine months ago my dad and I drove here in a rented sedan with everything I owned piled into the back seat. I had never been here before, so even though we had arrived 30 minutes early, I started moving in 20 minutes late. We had driven around for almost an hour trying to find where we were supposed to be. Then, the move-in staff could not find my ID card. And once they did, the chip did not work and I could not get into the room. But after running around for hours trying to get everything situated I was finally in this tiny room with all my things. I unpacked the boxes, put the sheets on my pillow, sat on my bed, and cried. 

I remember thinking that going to college was going to be the worst experience of my entire life. And I might have been right in some ways. There were some days when I paced around my room anxious about an exam. There were occasions when I stared out the window and just looked for hours, too tired to do anything else. There were times that I cried just like that first night. 

But there were also things that were really great. I made some of the best friends of my life. I tried new things and explored new places. I stayed out late and slept in and missed class. I joined new organizations. I went on trips. And after I would come back to my room, look inside, and think, “I’m glad that this is my life now.” I would stare at my posters and my bedsheets and my little mugs that sit on top of the dresser and smile. 

I’m packing it all up now and it feels strange. 

I’m putting away the pens that I wrote notes with for my first classes, back when I still took them. I’m folding my favorite jackets that I wore on late-night walks to the beach. I’m throwing away all of the little sticky notes that reminded me to do my laundry that day. Everything is moving back into the boxes that I came in and soon my room will just become a room with nothing left in it. The posters are gone, the traffic cone is returned, and the calendar is put away. Everything is as it was. 

It’s a little bittersweet, cleaning up the most formative year of my life into a bit of cheap plastic. But I think that is just how things go. I’ll put things away only to take them back out again in a few months. I’ll fly things home, and bring some other stuff back. I’ll live in different rooms in different places and things will change but, somehow, they will also say the same. 

I’m saying goodbye to my room now, the walls empty and the closets barren. My memories are packed into suitcases that I take on my way out. Goodbye to my small room. Thank you for being there for me.

Photo via Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “I’m Moving Out: Looking Back at My Freshman Year

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  5. A COVID Stricken World and Afrofuturism!!!

    By John Burl Smith author “The 400th From Slavery to Hip Hop!”

    Denver’s RedLine Art Gallery’s efforts to launch “Afrofuturism + Beyond 2022” was shut down in 2021 by COVID-19 and has been sidetracked again by this deadly monster. Originally set to debut in 2021, and now COVID, rising from the grave, like “the grim reaper,” has defied many who thought with warmer weather, America had seen the last of COVID-19. The one lesson “Republicans COVID-deniers and others who refuse to get shots, are still spreading COVID to even those who got shots. Denver residents are currently experiencing just such a spread, and out of an abundance of caution, and RedLine’s desire not to become a “super spreader,” has delayed the opening of its major exhibition “Floyd Tunson’s ASCENT” from 6-10/7-31-2022 to 7-11/16-2022.

    The pause provides another opportunity to acquaint art lovers with RedLine’s quest to make “Afrofuturism” mainstream by presenting “Floyd Tunson’s ASCENT!!” Tunson has emerged as one of the driving forces supporting “Afrofuturism.” Along with Arish “King” Khan, international “Punk Rock” artist, who created “Black Power Tarot” we were in Colorado Spring (2019), for an appearance at the Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA) when Daisy McGowan, curator, introduced us to Floyd Tunson. “King” Khan and I were talking with Floyd, what has become “The 400th From Slavery to Hip Hop” and trying to visualize the role of “Afrofuturism,” as a vehicle. Our hope is to commemorate our ancestors’ journey into slavery, while celebrating our survival in 2030, as the Quadricentennial year of our arrival in North America. Envisioning enslaved Africans’ their arrival through this new and different lens, brought 2030 and “Afrofuturism” together as a concept, talking with Floyd.

    For those less familiar with “Afrofuturism,” Floyd, Khan and I talked about making it more than just another “catchy phrase or gimmick!” However, back in 2016, I realized 2019 was just 3 years away. Moreover, I thought, “more noted individuals—artists, historians, civil rights activists or politicians—would be up front driving such a movement. With a regretful resignation, I watched 2019 zoomed by with only a whisper. Floyd took the artistic approach, looking for venues receptive to his artistic concept, hence RedLine entered his portrait with “Afrofuturism + Beyond 2022.”

    “King” Khan blew my socks off, with his creation of Black Power Tarot, just as Prichard Smith was warping up production of the “Invaders” documentary. Their efforts inspired me to tell my family and other descendants of American slavery’s story, which began before creation of the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” Writing “The 400th From Slavery to Hip Hop,” I recapitulate their journey all the way to Hip hop’s rise, which sidelined R&B on the way to becoming an international genre. I saw creating “The 400th Performance Period” as a multi-purpose platform that, among other things, will allow R&B to reposition, not remake itself. Utilizing Afrofuturism to exemplify and verify the multiplicity of genres Black Arts encompasses, Arish and I wanted to reflect its centrality in slavery’s descendants’ development.

    Our hope is that young artists will pick up the challenge of Afrofuturism and “The 400th Performance Period” to address their image and lack of access to America’s economic system. Hip hoppers must tell their story or chance getting written out of history all together. Young people cannot allow the older generation to hold on to power they will use against them! They must see in Tunson’s RedLine exhibition, the viability of “Afrofuturism” as a vehicle and platform. Floyd brought “King” Khan and me on board RedLine’s opening week of “Floyd Tunson’s ASCENT!” For me “Afrofuturism” is a theme that makes Tunson’s exhibition the leading exponent of Afrofuturism.

    Questions like, “What difference will a word or concept like “Afrofuturism” make, after 400 years of discrimination, political oppression, economic deprivation and isolation?” I answer, “Afrofuturism” and the “The 400th Performance Period” is a projected timeline that began in 2020 and culminate with activities throughout 2030. Then comes, “Why such a long time, Black people are so impatient; why wait 8-years to celebrate something we can do next year?” I respond, “All the major movements African Americans have mounted in the past—the March on Washington (1963), “the Poor People’s Campaign (1968), and the Million Man March (1995)—were organized as one day affairs. We wanted the concept and activities to be innovative, not dependent on one group to keep activities going. Slavery’s descendants need to learn how to sustain a process, without the “number one black leader” dictating to the masses. You do not need to wait on the OK nor join anything. If you have an idea, start developing it, you will have a head start. What we envision with “The 400th Performance Period” and “Afrofuturism” is a time frame and a goal beyond the present. During those 8 years (2030), activities will be planned. Artists and entertainers can modify their projects, while touring small communities, not only large ones.

    Even more importantly, there are millions of descendants of slavery that were hijacked and carried to islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These slavery descendants are artists, writers, performers and others who revere their slavery roots and will want to exhibit their cultures. With everything coming together for “Floyd Tunson’s ASCENT,” the opening week, it will bring African American Art to the fore, while elevating its contributions to a similar level of recognition white Art is accorded. Based on RedLine’s groundbreaking exhibition, which recast what was status quo before COVID-19. The world will see what that reshaped “Art world” looks like. Consequently, descendants of American slavery are truly fortunate to have such a prominent artist, as Floyd Tunson, on the frontline with his RedLine exhibition “Floyd Tunson’s ASCENT,” makes it the leading edge for Afrofuturism. For the first time in our history, slavery’s descendants will have artists, performers, entrepreneurs and activists, leading efforts to project possible futures with create example of what those futures can be! These are exciting times!!!

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