New School, New Life

October 9, 2008
By Kara Cravens, Bryant, AR

On the verge of tears and dressed in clothes my mom had laid out, I stepped gingerly into the doors of the eighth grade wing of Bryant Middle School like I was stepping into an unwelcomingly cold swimming pool. My dad had all-too-willingly accepted a pastorate position in Cabot, we had stayed there for a year, people didn’t turn out to be quite as nice as they were when we arrived, and my dad quit. So we moved and there I was, in a place that may as well have been Belgium. I had already decided this would be the most unbearable school year of my life. Back in seventh grade, my life was almost perfect. Loyal friends, fun school, nice home. But of course, all good things are temporary. I just wasn’t expecting the switch from great to okay to be so difficult.

First class—band. The hugest band I’ve ever seen. Everyone cramped together in a huge room, but it wasn’t too bad because I could actually play an instrument, a requirement most of these eighth graders seemed to skip somehow. Second period—Pre-AP English. Third—Pre-AP History. Some guy called me by my name and I expected to see a familiar face, but I forgot that my name was on the back of my shirt. The guy wanted me to scoot over because he couldn’t see the board. After a while, it all ran together. Who cares what classes I had? They were all pointless. The only thing I learned in eighth grade was that life is not perfect, but it’s important to pick yourself up and make the best of what you have. Unfortunately, I learned that lesson too late, about seven months into my eighth grade school year when I finally started to make friends again.

Sobbing silently, I endured the trip from school to home (a 45-minute drive) with my mom after the disastrous first week of the disastrous eighth grade. She didn’t know how to help me and I didn’t know how to move on. I missed Sydney, my super-smart best friend, Kyler, my puppy love interest, Nick, Kyler’s eccentric sidekick and comedian. These served as the remnants of my childhood and they had suddenly vanished from my life forever. Sure, I had moved schools before, in fourth and seventh grade, but I had made potentially lifelong connections at Cabot Junior High North, and I had only attended school there for a year. I needed more time with Sydney, Kyler, and Nick. I needed more time. Suddenly shoved into a school where I knew nobody’s name, I felt completely confused and alone, like a pilot who had just crash-landed in Siberia.

My parents didn’t deserve to deal with my broken emotions, and I hurt myself by not moving on sooner. If I had just said to myself, “You’re not going back to Cabot so just get over it,” I would have matured more in the eighth grade. Although I despised Bryant and blamed it for the loss of my seventh grade friends at first, it has become my home. On my fifth and final year here, I call my new best friends by name, laugh with them about silly things, and feel a strong sense of belonging, but I sometimes feel a twinge of longing to be in seventh grade again.

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