Move in day is always hectic. Well, at least, that’s what you’ve heard. You wouldn’t exactly know from experience, since you’re a freshman and all, and this is the first time you’ve ever actually had to go through something like this-- but you digress. The point is, you’ve heard move in day is always hectic, which is why you decided to come at the earliest possible hour to beat the rush.
The sun is nothing more than a muted yellow glow peeking between the slate gray concrete and bright glass of skyscrapers. New York really doesn’t look that much different from home, you realize with a peculiar mix of relief and disappointment. Sure, the lay out is different, but it's a ll the same; big, bright buildings and dark dirty streets, packed full with vehicles and people all passing each other by in a blur. A few blocks from the university yields a number of men and women in incandescent safety orange jackets directing you to the proper parking space, saving your dad from the endless circling he was bound to have done otherwise.
Since you’re there at such a godforsaken hour, you get to pull up practically right in front of the dorm, which appears to be a rather old building that stretches about ten stories up. The bricks are rust red and the windows look dusty and dark, dirty run off stains streaking down the side of the walls. There’s a line of move-in-day helpers in deep purple shirts leaning lazily against those gargantuan carts that they use to wheel everyone’s things into the building. When your dad slides in next to the curb and stops the car, the girl closest to you-- a pretty little thing, tanned copper with waves of chestnut hair rolling down past the small of her back-- straightens expectantly. She tosses a sunny smile at you through the untinted windows. You grin back weakly, stomach turning nervously, and try not to notice the way everyone’s eyes are drawn to the vehicle.
When you step out of your dad’s old ’84 Ford 150, your first instinct is to stretch the stiffness of a three day car ride out of your muscles, but you’re feeling a little too uneasy under so many stares to indulge in such a casual gesture. Besides, it’s not like you actually haven’t been out of the car for three days. Although, the last stop was quite a few hours back, and honestly the motel beds you slept in on the way weren’t much more comfortable than a car seat. You attempted to talk your dad into just letting you fly to NYU (both for convenience’s sake and for fear of the old truck keeling over), but he drained you pretty quick with the whole sentimental ‘last father-son road trip’ talk. It wasn’t like you wouldn’t be home on the holidays, but try telling him that.
The girl who smiled at you is now rolling her cart over, chittering out a greeting that is unsuitably bubbly for this early in the morning, in a smooth, bobbing dialect, “Hello there! You sure are here early! Welcome to NYU, I’m Feferi, and I guess I’ll be helping you move in today! Where are you coming from?”
“Sacramento,” your dad answers politely in his thick Spanish accent. He sets to relocating the several plastic bins of your belongings from the truck bed to the cart. He’s a pretty small man, so you move to help him (although you’re pretty small, too).
Feferi’s grin broadens, “Oh, someone who’s almost as far west as me! That’s nice to hear. What’s your name?”
“Oh, uh, it’s Tavros,” you fumble, clumsily straightening up a dull blue container to make room for another. “Sorry I didn’t, say so sooner. It’s, nice to meet you.”
“You, too! I bet you’re gonna love it here. Just for the record, we’re the best dorm on campus!” she says with exuberance, taking hold of the cart and pushing it with a strength you’re surprised her petite figure can produce. “We’re also one of the oldest dorms, but that’s part of the charm!”
The building smells kind of musty on the inside and the lobby area is set up like one of those 1920’s mafia movies; all leather and mahogany and floral patterned wallpaper. The boy at the desk has a streak of NYU purple coloring his hair and is sitting with his face down, snoozing. Feferi makes a gesture for you and your dad to hold on, then strolls up and raps her knuckles loudly on the desk, effectively jolting the boy from his slumber.
“Jeez, Fef. Why couldn’t you just shake me on the shoulder or somethin’?” he complains in a wavy, lilting voice, grasping blindly for his glasses. “Who even actually comes this early?”
“You shouldn’t be sleeping on the job, Eridan! It’s bad work ethic,” she chides lightly, sliding his spectacles into the range of his floundering fingers and reaching over him to grab a clipboard from behind the desk. “Tavros... Nitram, right? Room ten-oh-two?”
“Uh, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the room number, that was on my letter,” you answer, glancing at your dad who gives a small nod of confirmation.
“Great! You just need to sign in, and then we can get your key and head up,” she passes you the roster and a pen, then leans against the front desk and prods at the other boy pointedly. With a hint of a grimace, the boy turns to rifle through the mess of keys lined and labeled on the small counter next to him.
It takes a few seconds for you to find your name, and a few more to figure out what to sign where, but you manage it and hand the clipboard back to Feferi.
“Yay!” she exclaims gleefully, forking over your room key in exchange for the sign in sheet. “Now we can go see your room. I have to go, too, to make sure everything is in place, but then you’re free to do as you-- oh-- awwww!”
You turn sharply to find what had commandeered Feferi’s attention midsentence, drawing a soft gasp and a squeal of delight from her. A new cart has just been rolled into the building and in the doorway stands a short girl, sporting vibrant red classes and honey brown hair, accompanied by a dog with fur as white as snow.
Feferi has long since darted over to affectionately rub at the canine’s face and coo, “You’re such a pretty puppy, yes you are! Who’s a pretty puppy?” She pauses momentarily, looking up at the girl apologetically, “She’s a cutie, but I’m afraid we don’t allow animals in the building.”
At this statement, the other girl simply giggles lightly, “Well, I believe there’s an exception in my case. Pyralspite is my guide dog.”
“Oh,” recognition dawns on Feferi’s face and she stands up quickly. “Oh, you must be Terezi Pyrope! How could I have forgotten? Oops, sorry.”
“No big deal,” Terezi waves her off. She glances around the room as if she could actually see, nostrils flaring slightly. With a toothy grin, she declares, “This place reeks of mold.”
Feferi laughs out loud, “Well, it’s nice to meet you Terezi, but I have some duties to attend to, so I hope you have fun moving in and I’ll see you soon!”
You breathe a small sigh of relief, because you were starting to fear you’d been forgotten and you were really hoping you wouldn’t have to speak up to remind Feferi of your existence.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she says, grabbing hold of your cart and pushing it to the elevator.
“That’s okay, I don’t really mind,” you reply, squeezing into the small compartment. With the three of you and your things, there’s barely enough room left for Feferi to lift a hand and mash the tenth floor button. The mesh screen of the elevator door closes about halfway before clattering to a stop and, with a protesting whir and rattle, opening up again.
Feferi glances at you and gives a mildly nervous chuckle, “Oh, this happens all the time. The thing’s only about a thousand years old. You just have to sort of--” she roughly slams the button again with the heel of her hand, and this time the door closes.
The elevator pulls up slowly, clunking and whining and shuddering way more than you would have preferred, but neither Feferi nor your dad seem to be too concerned. You have a feeling you’re going to be spending the next two semesters walking up and down ten flights of stairs. You pull at the hem of your shirt and try not to think about what would happen if the pulley snapped and you went crashing down five floors... seven... nine.
The hallways are narrow and the doors are labeled with thick brass numerals. The second zero in 1002 is loose so that it tilts, leaning against the first zero. It takes some forceful persuasion to get the key into the lock and turn it.
Your first impression; the room... is small. Very small. Crammed with two dressers, two desks, a sink, and bunked beds, there’s hardly any open space left over at all. Hello, home for the next year. You and your dad start unloading your things while Feferi pokes around the room, opening drawers and inspecting the beds for sturdiness.
“Well, everything seems to be in order!” she announces cheerfully, hands on her hips. “I guess I’ll leave you two to do your own thing. If you need anything or have any questions, just tell Eridan at the front desk. If you find any kind of damage, make sure to report it immediately!”
“Uh, okay. Thanks, for the help,” you smile bashfully and she returns the gesture with warmth.
Once she’s gone, you turn to your dad, shuffling uncomfortably. Oh boy, here it comes. “You should, probably start heading home soon, Dad. I can unpack on my own, and you have a, uh, long drive home.”
Your dad’s weathered face wrinkles into a sad expression. Neither of you have ever been all that good with words.
“I’ll, call a lot, okay?” you offer unsurely, but sincerely. This is all a part of growing up and everything, but you still feel a little guilty. “And I’ll be home on, thanksgiving and during, winter break.”
He nods solemnly and opens his arm for a hug, which you give him. The top of his head levels with your chin.
“Have fun and make friends, Tavros,” he says into your shirt. Everything about this seems a little clichéd and kind of surreal. You don't think it's actually sunk in yet that you're here in college. You're not sure when or if it will sink in. “Don’t get discouraged too easily. I know you can do whatever you set out to do.”
“Thanks, Dad,” you pull away. You appreciate him going along with this so well when you know he wanted you to go to school somewhere closer to home. He doesn’t understand why you have to move all the way across the country, but that’s okay really, because you don’t entirely understand either. YIt doesn't help your conscious that you're leaving him at home all alone, though, and you hope he’ll be okay. “Drive safe and, I, uh, love you, Dad.”
He smiles softly and it reaches his eyes and, wow, you think you might actually start crying, how silly is that. “I love you too, son.”
After a few more short, stumbling words of goodbye, your dad takes his leave and you’re alone. It's actually very unceremonious. You stand there for a bit, unsure of what to do next. You’re mildly horrified by the fact that the beds are bunked, because you don’t want to just randomly choose top or bottom and potentially upset your roommate.
With a heavy sigh, you flop into the nearest chair and inwardly claim the desk as your own. Pulling a plastic container over, you pop open the lid and start unpacking the little trinkets. You’re halfway through extracting your fairy memorabilia when you suddenly experience a wave of self-consciousness and cram them all back into storage.
Heaving another sigh, you dig out your laptop and turn it on. As you wait for it to power up, you struggle to remember your roommate’s name, wonder what kind of person he is, and pray he’s easy to get along with.
This is going to be a long, long school year.