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    gor mu
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The North Down South - 3. 3. Stop crying, stop suffering

Valentín, the engineer.

I spent so much time thinking about that person, wondering what he would even be like. How he would talk, what he would wear, what he would think and say in different situations.

It all felt so distant. So different from what I currently was. 

I’d always known I was different from the people around me. I mean, I went to a private school in Caballito. All of my classmates were comfortably middle-class, sensibly educated. Their parents were professionals with college degrees. They traveled abroad in the summer: Rio, Orlando, Madrid. They casually talked about their childhood trips to Disneyland.

Me? My mom had been an illegal immigrant, my dad was a plumber from Corrientes. The farthest I’d been from the neighborhood I’d spent my whole life in was the camping trip to Córdoba Nahuel and Tomi organized when we were fifteen. 

Experience had taught me to sit silently in the sidelines and not draw attention to myself and to how much I was unlike the others.

The thing is, I knew it was mostly a me thing. The guys never said anything, never made me feel unwelcome (not purposefully, at least). But it was all in the little details. Like how they’d plan out vacations I would never be able to afford, or how they’d insist on going out clubbing in places where a single drink was going to cost me a week’s worth of salary.

They would offer to cover for me, but I always refused. I had that much dignity in me. So in the end they would pick the economy-class choice, because they knew (without me having to say it) that if they wanted me to go, if they wanted me to be part of their plans, they were going to have to make it affordable. They did that just to accomodate me, and I know I should have been grateful. And I was. But it left a bitter taste in my mouth nonetheless.

Being with Lautaro did not make things easier. Lautaro was, after all, an extreme version of my friends. His dad taught economics at Yale University. He hadn’t just been abroad—he’d grown up abroad. His grandparents were straight-up old money. The word posh had been invented for them. He knew all of that, and so he tried the hardest not to make me feel that disparity between us. But it was simply unavoidable.

I did not envy Lauti’s background. I resented it.

Valentín, the brown kid from Lugano. The plumber’s son.

How was I supposed to become Valentín, the engineer?

Thinking about it made my head hurt. 

I could not stop thinking about it.

***
Valentín, the engineer, probably wore dress shirts on a daily basis. Or perhaps polo shirts? He wore sensible moccasins and nice shoes, fitted pants and wrist-watches. That’s what fancy people wore to work, right? That’s what Lauti’s dad wore, at least.

Valentín, the engineer, did not, under any circumstances, wear the old Quilmes-branded Boca shirt from the 96’ season, even if it did have Román’s beautiful number 8 (it’d been so expensive but so worth it).

Valentín, the engineer, did not stress out over what he would wear to his first day at university.

I let out an exasperated groan as I threw yet another item of clothing on my bed. Nothing I owned felt fitting. I was yet to become anything close to Valentín, the engineer.

What did a university student even look like? I was starting to realize I’d never met one before.

Lauti looked up from his phone from the bed. The discarded shorts had landed dangerously close to his head.

“May I say something?”

I gave him a look.

“Cool,” he said. “Valen, love, you’re overthinking this. It’s your first day of class, not a funeral.”

“It feels like one. My own.”

He rolled his eyes. “And you say I’m the dramatic one.”

“Are you going to help me or…?”

“I am helping you. Just wear what you would wear anywhere else. It’s just the UTN. It’s a public university.”

I tried not to dig too much into the tone with which he’d said the words public university. Instead, I shrugged and sat down beside him.

“So you’re basically saying I should wear football shorts and a Boca shirt to my first day of class.”

He nodded.

“That’s exactly what I was saying.”

“I’m going to get lynched.”

He sighed. “Tragic. I’ll simply have to find a new boyfriend.”

“Good luck finding someone who’ll put up with your bullshit as much as I do.”

“You deserve a medal.”

“I’ll settle for a kiss.”

“Deal.”

***

For all of my stress and anxiety over my first day at university, I still managed to show up late to my first class. Finding a good parking spot for la Gorda and then having to navigate the labyrinthine halls of a school building I’d never been in before proved a time-consuming combo, and by the time I found the right classroom I was already a good twenty minutes late.

The professor was a stern-looking man with wire-rimmed rectangular glasses, an intense black beard, and a bald spot in the back of his head. He had a no-nonsense kind of look about him, and out of all the eyes that posed on me as I walked through the door interrupting the class, his were the scariest.

He assessed me for an instant, made a tsk sound, and then he addressed the class:

“See, everyone? If you’re going to be late, make sure you’re wearing that shirt. Blue and gold? I’ll let you in. White and red? That’s a different story.”

I was out of breath from running up the steps and my heart was beating like crazy, but I still managed to laugh a little. Because I found his response funny, and because I was suddenly overcome with relief.

All of that stress and all of that anxiety for nothing. Turns out the best way to make a good impression was to wear the right team’s kit.

I had luck to thank for my professor being a Boca fan. More importantly, though, I had Lauti to thank for convincing me not to wear a dress shirt to class.

Maybe, just maybe, Valentín, the engineer, did not have to be such a different person from Valentín, the kid from Lugano. 

This chapter's title comes from Deja de llorar, by El Polaco!

Valen is learning that sometimes not compromising who you are is the best way to be accepted in new environments. It's certainly something I've struggled with myself, but we all get there eventually ☺️

Copyright © 2022 gor mu; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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The last sentence in the chapter was going to be my chapter comment.I think the only university where you would stress out over how you're dressed would be a place like Harvard .Now what would have happened if Valen showed up in white and red?🤔

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On 5/22/2022 at 2:52 PM, weinerdog said:

The last sentence in the chapter was going to be my chapter comment.I think the only university where you would stress out over how you're dressed would be a place like Harvard .Now what would have happened if Valen showed up in white and red?🤔

Valen would probably rather be caught dead than wearing a River Plate shirt, but I would assume the professor would have simply not let him in 😅 

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