“We’re almost there” His mother exclaimed. Slowly, the campus came into view. A sense of excitement and fear filled him. His dream had finally come true, and he’d be attending Yale. Nervousness about his reception flooded his mind. He didn’t have many possessions, just a laptop, fridge and a few basic necessities.
He had devoted hours to studying, performing hours of community service and other painstaking sacrifices. Entering into the elite world was a dream come true, but also a nightmare. The thought of having to contend with generations of old money seemed impossible. His family consisted of him and his mother who struggled to make ends meet. Adrian viewed himself as a poor young man in search of a place in an aristocratic world.
It had always been his passion to study law. Although it had failed to punish his father for what he had done and unfairly targeted his best friend, he refused to let it skew his perception and more than anything, he desired to make a positive impact on the legal system.
His mother assisted him transport his meager possessions to his dorm. As they ascended the staircase, he felt as if everyone’s eyes were on him which left him unsettled. His mother seemed oblivious, or if she were aware she managed to conceal it.
As they rounded the corner, down the hall, Adrian braced himself to slip into a cordial mood in preparation for his first encounter with his roommate. Numerous ideas about what the guy would be like flooded his mind. He just hoped he wasn’t overly eccentric or vexatious. It was a struggle for him to connect with most people because they lacked his world view, which made it near impossible to form meaningful relationships with the majority of people his age.
As they approached the room, the door was slightly ajar, and he spied a nonchalant guy seated at a small, rectangular black desk as he viewed Instagram on his MacBook Pro. There wasn’t much space in the room. It was small, but doable. Posters of Indie rock bands covered the left wall. The guy looked up and smiled.
“Hey bro, I’m Mario Vitali. You must be Adrian Luz?” He stood to shake Adrian’s hand.
“Nice to meet you” Adrian mustered an unconvincing smile, dazed after the long drive.
“So where are you from?” Mario asked.
“Phoenix.” Adrian attempted to smile once more, but failed; he needed sleep.
“You must be his mother” Mario took Catalina’s hand and shook it “I thought you were his sister for a moment, no joke,” Mario chuckled.
“Well I’m flattered, and it’s very nice to meet you Mario.” Catalina smiled.
“So Mario where are you from?” Adrian said.
“I’m originally from Chicago, but after my parents separated four years ago my mother sent me to Greenwich which isn’t’ too far from here to live with my father.”
“I bet it was quite a change,” Adrian responded a bit more engaged.
“I still miss it there sometimes but it’s not bad here either.”
“I’m already out of my element.” Adrian sighed.
“You’ll adjust, there’s plenty of stuff to do out here. Did you get a chance to tour New Haven yet?
“I haven’t had much time. I just got here.” A slight grin spread across Mario’s face. “There’s still plenty of time.”
“Mario, if you don’t mind, I need to have a word with Adrian before I leave,” Catalina interrupted.
“Sure thing, I was about to duck out. It was my pleasure to meet you Mrs. Luz and Adrian catch you later,” Mario waved as he closed the door behind him.
“Bye” Catalina and Adrian replied in unison. Catalina shifted her attention to her son, her eyes filled with nostalgia.
“I remember the days when you were a baby, I would cradle you in my arms, now you’re all grown up and off on your own. Where has time gone?” Catalina cupped his face in her hands.
“Stop.” He freed his face. Catalina laughed. It never took much to embarrass him.
“It’s truly amazing how fast time flies.”
“I guess.” He rolled his eyes.
“Before I go, I just wanted to let you know that if you ever need anything you can call me. I’m going to miss you so much and I wish you the best in all of the years to come. I also want you to come visit me whenever you can. With all that said, I have something for you.” She reached into her beige tote bag and pulled out a medium rectangular box. “I want you to open it after I leave. Adrian placed it on the bed and embraced his mother as she fought back tears.
“I’m going to miss you too and don’t worry, I’ll stay in contact.” He reassured her. “I won’t let you down.” He whispered. As he held her he could feel her tense up at the last words he had spoken.
“There’s not a day that could go by that you could ever disappoint me.” She gripped his shoulders. Adrian looked down at the ground and shook his head. Deep down, he knew he already had.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” she said. They finally pulled apart. “Goodbye Adrian”
“Bye.” Adrian parted as his mother closed the door. An emptiness overcame him after she left. All these years he couldn’t wait to get out of Arizona and head to the Northeast so much so that his friend used to tease him about it. He looked at the black box sitting on his bed. He decided now would be the most opportune moment to open it before Mario returned.
The box wasn’t light yet it wasn’t heavy either, piquing his curiosity. He shook it wondering what it could possibly be.
When he waded through the mass of tissue paper, he reached the object. He should have known it would be a King James Bible. Oh great another one of Mom’s religious attempts to get him to convert he thought to himself, but because of his love for her, he wouldn’t trash it. Just as he started to shut the box, he noticed a piece of paper branching out from underneath. He lifted the bible and grabbed the note.
My one and only son, I love you so very much, and I am deeply sorry for the lack of childhood you experienced as you were forced to grow up so fast. I feel I never really got to tell you how truly proud of you all the time I was. You overcame so many obstacles that no one should ever have to face. I pray with every passing day that you excel in all you do.
Under the note, he discovered the money his mother had left him and was hit with instant guilt. He knew she shouldn’t be giving him extra money, he already had a full ride.
The door swung open catching him off guard.
“Hey Adrian, what’s up?” Mario returned with two large paper bags of Chinese takeout. “I figured you were hungry after your drive, so I got us both dinner.”
“Thanks,” Adrian tried to appear grateful, which was tedious for him since he was practically devoid of emotion.
“So what are you majoring in?” Mario asked as he stuffed his face. It took Adrian a moment to answer.
“Law” He tried his best not to sound peeved.
“Oh great I’ll be sharing a room with a future attorney.” Mario chuckled as he gobbled down more of his rice. When he saw Adrian wasn’t laughing, he stopped. “I was joking, I think that’s a decent field to major in. I come from a long line professionals in law myself, and I decided to break the cycle and major in marketing. My father was unhappy with my decision at first, but in the end, he agreed to support my ambitions.” Mario laughed. Oh great another one of the good ole boys. Adrian thought to himself.
He couldn’t help, but marvel how someone of Mario’s caliber was a descendent of a long line of wealth.
“Do you have friends that go here?” Adrian asked, trying not to sound too anxious.
“Most of my friends are in a fraternity. My father exempted me from joining this year due to my behavior in boarding school, but that won’t stop me from going to any of the parties they put on. That reminds me, you’ve got to come to some of them,” Mario said as he ran his fingers through his light, brown hair. “One of the houses is having a party tomorrow night we should go, and you can start acquainting yourself with some of your “peers.” Mario signaled to Adrian letting him know the peers he was referring to were girls as he nudged him and the two boys burst into laughter.