SUNY Buffalo was a really different place from anything I had ever know before. First of all, it was huge. There were over 30,000 students there. My freshman PSych 101 class was bigger than my entire school.
When I got there, I had to live in a room that was intended for three girls, but they had us doubled up until a room opened up for me.
Two of these roommates were sophomores and one was a freshman like me. I stayed on the fourth floor of building 5 of Richmond Quad in the Ellicott Complex in the North Campus of SUNY Buffalo. Phew that is a complex! But it was a huge complex of dorms. And something like I had never seen.
I met the friends that I would have for my entire four years at UB there, even though I was only there for a month. After that they moved me to a dorm room that was across campus, but I still came back over to the Fresh Fourth and crash there.
My dorm room was in the dorm for graduate students and international students. It was very quiet there, there was no one my age and my roommate was never there. If that had been my first housing assignment, I would have died of boredom. And I don’t think in could have made it through my four years at UB.
My grades were ok for freshman year, but not up to what I could have done if I had been more focussed on my studies. I was in a place where I had incredible freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. And I wanted to stay Comfortably Numb. I would do whatever it took.
School was a place where I could escape all that troubled me but yet it still confronted me in other ways.
I still wanted to date, but I still didn’t date because I hung around with people who were either very interested in their studies or preferred girls whom looked different than me or were just good friends and therefore firmly not date able.
I never understood it was so important to me to date and have boyfriends at the time, but it was an obsession.
I understand now that it was a deep need to feel normal. My mother had been married at age 18. All of my siblings had dated through high school and were married or had kids by their early 20s. All my friends had dated and been kissed before. But I hadn’t and it made me feel like a freak. And I just wanted to be normal.
And normal for girls when you hang with white people is small, tiny, with long hair. That is what white boys like. I ain’t mad at em. We all have our preferences. But because of the way I had been socialized, at that time, I preferred white boys. But white boys preferred girls that didn’t look like me. It wasn’t racial, I don’t think, just preference. So this increased my own self loathing and desire to be something that I would never be.
But I as that feeling increased, so did my love for being with my new friends and in my new free environment at this great place.
I eventually got to live in Richmond, in the ILC – international Living Center that was closer to my friends.
We all studied together and hung out together and went to progressive parties together.
Progressive parties were dorms parties where each room had a different drink and you would get “progressively” drunk as you went room to room. That was the outlet for us then before we could get into bars. And my preference for numbing my
Mind then was alcohol. Prodigious amounts of alcohol. Not just drinking to be drunk, but drinking to be oblivious.
Sometimes on weekends and breaks I would have to go home to Rushford and although I still hung with my friends there. And that always involved massive amounts of drinking. I even got punched in the mouth by one of friends at a bar then.
I longed to be with my friends at college. We were all very close. We wrote to each other over breaks and called each other. And so Freshman continued in a routine of school and partying and studying and hanging out.
We were just like a big family. And this is what I believe sustained me through what was around the corner.