SUBJECT: Met some sane people at last!
DATE: 10/ 10/ 00
Everyone came back from dinner in the cafeteria and I met two people whose rooms are next to and across from mine and who’ll be in my year. Their names are Nelson and Pat. Nelson is from America and Pat is Irish! Or Northern Ireland as he repeatedly told me. Nelson is from somewhere in the country apparently (or 'the mid-west' as she calls it), she grew up in a small town whereas Pat grew up in Belfast. He doesn't have a laptop in his room but a bigger desktop computer. He does carry a laptop to class with him though, so he says. Genevieve, sorry, Nelson as she prefers (her last name) asked me if I smoke, which I immediately jumped at the chance. Thank god this place isn't going to be such a concentration camp as I was worried it would be!
As we were walking down the hall towards the stairs a teacher I hadn't met yet, Miss Inez stopped us and asked us where we were going. Nelson told her we were going to the library. So she said that it was a good idea to show me around a bit, but reminded us not to get lost behind any of the buildings. Pat gave her this funny smile and said to her, "would we ever do that?" and Miss Inez reminded him that he does it nearly every day. We got away with it and as we went down the stairs I found out from Nelson that Miss Inez is our Music, Art, Drama and Gym teacher (I think that’s what they call PE over here) plus she's also our Den mother on our floor of the dorms. She, like Nell, look pretty young. I think definitely in their twenties. I wonder how they wound up here in the middle of nowhere to teach around four subjects to kids who are nuts?
Anyway, we got outside and started crossing the oval that's in the center of the grounds, with the four buildings, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta around it. We started heading towards the Alpha building where Pat said the biggest library is and where the classrooms are. It's the biggest of the buildings, but in my opinion they all look pretty big… and old. They all look like stately manors that should be in an English period drama or something... which I can't work out why they're here in the middle of nowhere? And with a shitty little place like Brownsville next to them, instead of a proper town or city or something?
When we reached the building, instead of going up the couple of stairs and inside the doors, we walked around the side of the building and stood just around the corner of the back. Both Nelson and Pat each pulled a packet of their own out and Pat offered one out of his to me. I thought I could use this opportunity to ask them some questions about the school.
I asked them how they got their cigarettes as I noticed when I went to the shops today that a sign said the legal age limit is 21. They told me there's a Senior student in one of the bottom dorm rooms that gets them for them. Cool, I'll have to check that out. Next I asked them how they got here. Apparently Pat also tried to kill himself in Belfast, and his family were approached by Stephen Hamilton to come here, like what happened to me. Nelson shook her head at us and told us we were a pair of freaks. So I asked her what she did to deserve to come here? She said she would have been sent here or to Juvenile Court, but wouldn't tell me anything else. Pat has been here for a year already, and Nelson started last month. Then I asked them if anyone had ever run away? Pat shrugged and said he'd heard stories that kids in the past had tried it, and managed to hitch-hike out of here, and some of them ended up coming back on their own free will. I laughed and asked why, when Nelson said something that now bugs me and makes me wonder about.
"When there's no home to go to, what do you run from?" with that she threw her cigarette to the ground, stumped it out with her foot, than turned around and left before Pat and I had finished. I guess all of my questions had somehow offended her.
This can't be true. I mean, if all the misfits and outcasts all come here, there would surely be more than 60 students attending at a time at Hamilton's, right? So where are all the other kids who have tried killing themselves? Or have criminal records? It doesn't make sense.
"Basically life here is pretty good. There is some disciplining, but basically the teachers let us just get on with it. You'll notice there are no curfews or lights out, you just go to bed when you feel like it. The only thing is if you're a Sophomore, which you are, you have to have supervision when you leave school property. Welcome to Hamilton's School of Headcraft and Heterodoxy. There must be something special about you for you to be here." Pat said to me.
Was he complimenting me? Was he hitting on me? Why does there have to be something special about me to be here? I thought it was just because I tried to kill myself.
We finished our cigarettes and came out from the back and then he offered to actually show me the library as he had to get some books. I said thanks, but no thanks, and went back across the oval towards the dorms, or Beta building as everyone else calls it. I went back to my room and I noticed Nelson's door was shut. I guess that was it for any more conversations with her tonight.
So I'm sending this email to you Angie. It's 10:30 PM. I better go to bed soon, breakfast is at 7.30 tomorrow morning, then I have my first class. What time is it in Sydney at the moment? What's the weather like? Here, there is a cold wind outside, I shivered so much I nearly dropped the cigarette!
I may not have a home with Dad but at least I've got you.