The view across the river

part 1


They all piled into a 2006 Toyota Camry. With hollow stomachs and ambitious minds, the night sky served only as nuance, a deepened understanding of a fading dinner time announced subtly through starlight. It was hunger that drove the car past the jaded Spanish-mossed trees, around the narrow curve and closer to Waves.

Hunger was interrupted by a freshman, Charly Adams, who told the film major in the driver’s seat that the parking lot at Oak has a beautiful view of the river. A beautiful view was all he needed to ignore the hungry passengers and drive them all the way up to the top and park the car.

A few days later, Charly sits in Einstein Bros Bagels, her diction homework instead of food takes space on the table. Her eyes brighten with laughter as she thinks about the event that is now a memory.

“We’re starving, but he wants us to see the view across the river.”

Eight Months Earlier

In Jacksonville, It can get up to 94 percent humidity in January, and Charly’s Virginia-trained dancing was not prepared for Florida weather. Her feet stuck to the floor as she turned, and she was convinced that she was not going to be accepted into JU’s dance program.

Turn. Stick. Turn. Stick.

The pressure in the air mimicked the pressure of this audition. JU was one of the only places that allowed her to do what she wanted. She knew that if she wanted main roles in musical theater, she was going to get in through dance, but most schools would not allow her to double major in two BFA programs.

Turn. Stick. Turn. Stick.

She remembered how when she was younger, she wanted to be just like her older sister. While her sister would busy her day taking dance classes and theater, Charly would only dream of such things.

“I would be flitting down the hallways, and my mom was like ‘you know what, let’s get her into one of the pre-ballet classes.’ And that just felt right.”

Her hallway whimsies soon became nine years of dance training before she began acting. All of her work lead her to this moment. And although the humidity put a damper on her audition, it was one of the least nerve-racking of her 18 college auditions.

Charly’s sticky feet were accepted.

Back to September

It had only been three weeks into college when Charly sat down in Einstein and reminisced about the drive up to Waves. Though the auditions were behind her, it was almost as if every day was a new audition for a certain aspect of life.

The overarching narrative of college was more than waking up barely before 7 a.m. to drive to Oak before walking to dance. It was also seeing her classmates curled up in a ball on the floor in the morning before class.

It was more than dealing with the kinks in North Campus and taking showers that can’t seem to find the hot water at 3 p.m. It was also having an impeccable dorm after spending hours on a Saturday cleaning because “what do I do with my life?”

Charly sees her freshmen class adjusting to college life, and figuring out who they are to become now that this journey of life has commenced so unapologetically.

“I think right now we’re in the process of figuring out who we are as independent people. Because we figured out who we are as people, but now we’re independent. We’re a lot of weird right now.”

The weird mixed with homesickness and of course, hunger, has left some JU freshmen feeling like perhaps they’re not a “real college student” and the question “why am I here” rummages their minds.

“I know a lot of us kind of feel that way, and I think we need the faculty and upperclassmen connections to be like ‘I’m really a part of this campus,’ which we don’t get living separated from everyone else. I know a lot of us in the dance department feel like the upperclassmen don’t like us. And I have plenty of upperclassmen that I know who will walk by and be like ‘Hey,’ and that’s great. And I know my sister, when she first went to college, she felt like a poser for the first year and a half.”

Though there are obstacles in her way and JU still doesn’t feel quite like home yet, Charly is looking forward to the years ahead of her. She may be starving. She may be homesick. She may be a lot of weird right now. But she will look past all of it to see the view across the river.