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Posted on Mon Mar 11th, 2019 @ 6:01pm by Nathan Sinclair & Aiden Osceola

Mission: Mission 1 - From Normal to Super
Location: Hawkins Hall Room 314
Timeline: 09/01/2018 2130

Gulf Coast University hadn't been at the top of Aiden Osceloa's wish list when he started looking for colleges. It wasn't a bad school from what he'd read online, but it wasn't exactly top tier either. And it had a reputation as a party school and of all the things that Aiden was a party animal was not among them. It did have three advantages going for it as far as he was concerned though. First, it was close to the University of Houston Medical School, which was top tier and had just opened two years previously in 2016. Second, they had given him pretty much a full ride scholarship thanks in equal parts to his decent, though not spectacular grades, his Native American status and his pledge to continue to work with Doctors Without Borders. Third, they did have a very good Indigenous People Bachelor program and he was planning a double major.

Had he come from home his trip would have been a rather short one. But he hadn't been in Oklahoma for months. He had been in Kenya since April of 2018 working with HIV and Tuberculosis patients in Homa By. The first part of the year he'd been in Hondorus working with victims of rape and sexual abuse. He'd been far from naive when he left, but his eyes had been truly opened to just how bad things in the world really were.

He wasn't a betting man, but if he had been, he would have bet a year's tuition that he had traveled further to get to Gulf Coast than any other student. He's started in the morning of August 26 with a six-hour jeep ride from Homa Bay to Nairobi dodging bullets and potholes. Getting through customs had been another three hours and one hundred, of his much needed, dollars.

Then from Nairobi to London, London to Dallas, and finally Dallas to Houston. Twenty-seven hours and seventeen minutes all told, getting into Houston International at a little after seven. His grandfather had met him there in his trusty '97 F-150 with Aiden's one real luxury, his Kawasaki Ninja 650.

After a quick shower, shave and changing into a faded pair of jeans and a maroon tee shirt, he left If he'd followed the speed limit it would have taken him ninety minutes to get to the school, but he couldn't resist the urge for speed and made it in just over an hour. Still, it was Nine o'clock when he got in all the offices were closed. He knew he was in Hawkins Hall, Room 314. He just hoped his roommate was in, otherwise, he'd be in for a very long night.

All of his worldly possessions, fit into a large backpack which was resting on his right shoulder when he knocked on the door.

“Come in, it’s unlocked,” called Nate from his desk. He had been sitting and reading on his tablet, nursing a Diet Coke, just idly passing the time. His floor mates were still either busy or talking amongst themselves, and he didn’t really want to intrude.

When the door opened, he saw a taller man with very long hair, carrying a backpack. “Hi!” said Nate, standing up to greet the newcomer. “I’m Nate. Nate Sinclair.” He stuck his hand out to the man.

Aiden gave the somewhat slighter man a weary smile and stuck out his own hand. “I'm Aiden Osceola. I guess we're going to be roommates. I know I was supposed to be here sooner, but things were, well a bit hectic.” After shaking hands with the other young man he eased the backpack off and set it on the floor. "Looks like you've picked out your desk, which is totally cool. Did you pick out a bed and stuff?"

“Oh, didn’t they tell you downstairs?” Nate asked. “It’s assigned. I was Unit B, which is the right side. You’d be Unit A, on the left. They might’ve screwed up the paperwork though, with the chaos of everyone moving in.”

"Actually the office is closed, which is one reason I knocked, I don't have a key. But I'm pretty easy. A, B, it's all the same to me."

"I don't mean to be rude, and I think it's probably a good idea for us to get to know each other a little since we're going to be together for the next nine months or so, but the office isn't the only thing that's closed. I haven't had anything to eat since I left London, which was like," he paused looking at his watch, Timex Expedition, thirteen or so hours ago. Is there someplace around here to eat, I'm starving."

“Yeah,” said Nate. “I’ve been exploring these past few days. The cafeterias are long-past closed, but there are some restaurants near campus that might still be open. I think some are open 24/7. I could use a bite, too.” He grabbed his phone, wallet, and keys and moved to the door. “After you.”

Aiden picked his backpack off the floor and at it in the center of his desk then turned and walked out the door ahead of his roommate. Looking back at him he said, "So, is it close enough to walk, or how do we need to get there? I do have a motorcycle if you don't have a car."

“It’s walkable,” answered Nate as he closed and locked the door behind him. “Maybe ten minutes? I was at Steak n’ Shake yesterday, and there were a couple of other places close to it, too. I think they cater mostly to the students, so they’re open pretty late or they never close.”

"Good, I prefer walking especially on such a nice night. And I haven't been in the States for almost a year, you have not idea how good a bacon cheeseburger and some nice fries sound right about now. Good choice! Aiden said as they moved down the hall. Aiden instinctively headed for the stairs but stopped himself. Which way stairs or the elevator?"

"Stairs," suggested Nate. "We're only two floors up." As they started down the stairs, Nate leading the way, he turned back around and asked, "you're just getting back into the States? Where were you before?"

"Kenya and Hondorus before that," Aiden said as he hurried to catch up, "I was working with Doctors Without Borders. I'm still on Kenyan time, it' 6:30 in the morning there."

"Doctors Without Borders, eh?" said Nate. "Wow. My friend wanted to volunteer with them. That must've been amazing. I want to work internationally after my degree, actually, and Kenya and Honduras sounds cool. Been anywhere else?"

"No, those are the only places I've gone to unless you count the Reservations I used to spend my summers at. They sometimes seem like a foreign country. What about you, have you been out of the country?" Aiden asked as they were passing through the lobby of the dorm.

"Technically I already am!" said Nate with a wide smile. "I'm Canadian, from Toronto specifically. My family took holidays abroad sometimes, but never for more than a week or two at a time. France, the Netherlands, Switzerland. A handful of Caribbean islands."

"I've not met too many people that want to work overseas unless it's from some big corporations and somehow, I don't think that's what you mean. So, why, if it's not too personal did you come from Canada down to Gulf Coast U?"

“A specific professor, actually,” answered Nate. I got into international affairs because a teacher gave me Dr. Alice Rios’s first book. It was about why countries, past and present, go to war and why they don’t. Her ideas intrigued me. I got some scholarship help and my sister worked with our financial advisor to get me the money to study in the States. So why not learn directly from her?”

"I have heard the name, one of the few professors here with a really outstanding reputation. But I haven't read her book yet. Sounds like I should though, what's her basic theory?"

“The specifics are intricate, which I don’t fully understand and want to learn more of,” Nate said. “But basically her theory is about resources. That all conflict, even religiously-driven wars, can be brought down to resources. That you can measure things normally immeasurable things and compare haves and have-nots. I’m butchering the explanation, though. How about you? Why here?”

"Well, mostly because I'm one of the have nots that the professor talks about and can't afford much more. But that's not the only reason. I'm going to be a doctor, a surgeon and the University of Houston has a Medical School that just opened two years ago. I figure I could audit some classes there, get to know the professors. And GCU does have a good Indigenous Peoples program Professor Crowsong has almost as good of a reputation Dr. Rios."

“Cool,” Nate wasn’t long before they found the restaurants. Fast food or sit-down, they were well lit and busy at this increasingly late hour, accommodating the new students and their desire to be out late. “I’m good with any of these places. Your choice, Aiden.”

The young Native American hadn't seen so many choices for quite some time and for several seconds he just stood there, staring, almost mesmerized by all the neon-lit signs and the stream of students going in and out of the various establishments. He wavered between Dennys and Steak 'n Shake for an instance.

"I like your original idea," he said, "I really do want that Double N cheese with bacon." He held open the door for his companion.

“Thanks,” Nate said, entering the restaurant. A hostess brought them to a table for two.

“So Aiden,” Nate said to his new roommate, “I’ll admit I don’t know much about native communities in the US. I’ll apologize in advance for my ignorance. Can you tell me anything, like what nation you’re from, where you grew up, that sort of thing?”

"I'm Seminole," he replied, "My ancestor was a Chief of our people, back shortly after America became a country. Way back then we were part of the Creek Nation. He helped form our nation. Of course, that like so many things this Great Nation has done to its indigenous people was something borne out of necessity rather than choice. He was an advisor to the Principal Chief Micanopy and helped lead a resistance movement when the government wanted to force our people to lands West of the Mississippi."

"He was a pretty successful warrior too. Do you want to know how he was defeated?"

"I do!" said Nate enthusiastically.

"Well, under a flag of truce, he was taken, prisoner. Tricked, deceived, lied to. You know what they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same or something like that."

Before they could continue their conversation a waiter, probably younger than either of them, "What can I get for you guys?" he asked.

"Double N Cheese with bacon, fries, and Diet Coke, please," said Nate.

"I'd like the same thing, " Aiden replied, "but I'd like a Cookie Dough milkshake to drink.

As the waiter went away with their orders, Nate followed up. "Back home there's a big push for reconciliation. It's hard. There are a lot of mistakes to own up to. But we're trying, and I think we're going in the right direction. It's a long road ahead."

"There are a lot of sins of the past to get caught up with. I think Canada is at least trying and I appreciate that. Not so much with America, especially under Chump."

"That is President Trump, you damn hippie," said a grey-haired man at the table behind them.

Nate froze. He didn’t want a confrontation. He’d heard of similar attitudes from people back home ever since Ford became Premiere, but never seen it himself. He quietly said to Aiden “I don’t disagree with you, but would prefer to avoid a confrontation with the locals.”

Aiden, on the other hand, didn't mind confrontations, he actually enjoyed them. If he had been by himself he would have jumped in with both feet and said something back. However, he didn't want to start off on the wrong foot with his new roommate.

"Sorry," he said in a voice pitched so that only Nate could hear him, "I tend to be a lightning rod at times." Then with the faintest hint of a smile, he continued, "perhaps we should talk about something less controversial like religion or sex."

Nate smiled at his new roommate. "Well, frankly, we probably should discuss both of those things. Make sure we accommodate each other appropriately. Like, if there's some prayer time I need to respect. And to make sure we accommodate the sacred sign of the Tie On The Doorknob," Nate added with a grin.

Aiden's smile widened. He hadn't in his mind been serious in discussing such things, but not that the topics were out on the table he was perfectly fine in discussing them. "Well, I was raised Lutheran, I enjoy the liturgy and I guess I'd call myself a Christian, but I also believe in some of my the traditions of my people as well. So, I'm something of a mixed bag."

"As far as sex goes, I don't think you'll have to worry much about ties on doorknobs or texts on your phone. It's not that I'm opposed to sex. Someday. But when it happens I want to be in a relationship."

"But, I'm not judgmental about others. What about you, any particular beliefs or signs on the door I need to know about?"

“Well, to the first question, I love learning about religious and cultural beliefs, but don’t have any myself,” answered Nate. “It’s not that I don’t believe, but I don’t know, and I want to learn all the ideas.” He smiled. “As for sex, I’ll let you know if I’m so lucky as to bring a woman back. But barring me getting a girlfriend, I don’t think it will be a major factor. I was recently reminded of the fact that I’m not a one-night-stand kind of guy.”

"Okay, now you've piqued my curiosity. What was it that reminded you of that? You know, if it's not too personal."

Nate smiled. "It's not too personal, and it's a story I'll tell you eventually. I'm still processing it all myself." The waitress came by with their food. "Thank you," he said, smiling to her.

Aiden took a long sip from his milkshake and let out a contented sigh before he said, "Sounds like a fascinating story. So, what was it like growing up in Canada?"

Nate took a sip of his drink and then answered. “Cold!” he began. “Toronto’s not too bad, weather-wise actually. Where I grew up there was a lot of diversity. My immediate neighbourhood was pretty WASPy, but school had people from all sorts of backgrounds. Some violence, but not tons. It was easier to get beer when we wanted it. My older sister kept my friends and I supplied. But I don’t know, it’s hard to describe. It’s all I’ve ever known, and that’s why I needed to get out and try something new.”

"Do you like your decision so far?" Aiden asked, "is it everything you hoped it would be?"

Nate smiled. "I don't know what I hoped it would be. It's a bit different, but not so far as to feel alien. Which is in a way harder, you know? I've been told that culture shock can be worse when you expect things to be the same, and they're just a little bit different, rather than going in expecting things to be different." He took a big bite out of his burger. "Oh my god, this is so good!"

Aiden couldn't help but grin at his fellow student's enthusiasm and the had to agree with his assessment of the food. "Yeah, what you're saying makes a lot of sense. I knew going into those other countries that things were going to be different than they were here. They were so different that the adjustment really wasn't that difficult for me. But I have a feeling that moving from the Reservation where I was accepted for who I was, where most everyone was to the center of Red Neck country is going to be a lot harder for me to figure out."

“Well then,” Nate said, lifting his drink in a toast, “we’ll just need to make sure we’re there for each other when redneck country takes its shot at the pacifist Canadian and the foreign-trained Seminole.”

 

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