A Day to Remember

November 17, 2009
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A decision that gives you your place for the rest of your life, take the hard route, take the easy route. Take the low or the high route. What would you choose? I chose the road least traveled, the road requiring the most stability and bravery. The one no one else would tread upon. Are you up to the challenge? This was my time to figure out who I really was, my time to shine, or perhaps, to crash and burn.

The tires of the big yellow, lame excuse for a school bus plowed through the freshly laid gravel on the narrow dirt road, kicking up dust straight through the wide open window in front of me, and into my awaiting face, the tires groaned with the effort of hauling the bus up the steep hill. I coughed, sitting up quickly, my seat squeaking in protest, to shut the window.

This rumbling tin can isn’t going to be able to plow through this for long. I thought while shutting the window and staring out at the enormous dust cloud we had just kicked up.

This dirt, this air, this cold, how can they stand it?

My heart was beating fast as I sat back down in my seat. Dreading the inevitable, arriving at school, the bane of my existence at the time and complaining wasn’t helping my predicament. I glanced outside the bus window, it was a barren wasteland, and everything was so different. Houses replaced by fields, paved streets by gravel roads, people, by thin air? Coming across a person here was a dime a dozen.

What’s a California city girl doing in the lonely countryside of South Dakota?

The stares at the back of my head, I could literally feel them burning holes in my skull. This was my first day of school at my new school, my first First Day at a new school to be exact. Coming in the middle of the school year didn’t help either. As more people filled the lonely crate this vehicle was, the more profound their whispers became about me became.

I don’t think I’m going to make it through the day. I’m definitely going to just drop dead.

The bus soon pulled into the parking lot of the school, an hour and twenty minutes after I got on to be exact, and yes, I was keeping track, loathing every minute of it.

As I exited the bus, I got my first good look at the school; it was painted a sort of dreary red and was made of bricks. I think it could have been fire truck red at one time, but that years had not been kind. Half of the building looked as it was in all sorts of disrepair, it could come crashing down at any given minute.

That is definitely not safe; this must break some kind of safety hazard code.

And so, I began my decent upon the school, just noticing that I had been standing on the curb, alone, like a total weirdo for a good three minutes. People were starting to stare.

Sit down and go through the day as if I had been here the whole time? I’d love to! If only life were so simple. Standing in front of the class babbling on about my life was definitely not my cup of tea.

I got out of my seat, trying not to seem as frightened as I felt. It was as if I was a rabbit who just got chased into a corner. Glancing at the teacher, who gave me a reassuring smile, trying to tell me that everything would be fine, I continued to the front of the room.

“My names Ashley, I’m from California, and I uh, like to read.” I squeaked out hurriedly and sat down, feeling my face flush.

Nice. I mentally kicked myself.

After long tedious introductions and questions asked the real torture developed, recess.

“That’s Elizabeth, as you know” A blonde from my class who decided to walk out to recess with me, Morgan, whispered in my ear. “Don’t worry, she’s a freak, you don’t want to know her.”

Shouldn’t I be able to make decisions by myself? I thought, glancing at lonely looking girl sitting on a swing set by herself on the far side of the playground.

“Hey Morgan!” a group of girls called out from the blacktop, flagging us down.

“So this is the new student, Looks like you have a new BFF that’s actually in your class now!”one of the girls observed. I offered them a small smile.

After they had their fill of asking me questions about where I came from, what it was like there and why I even moved here, we were chitchatting about random things. Soon enough though, the conversation developed from politely involving me, to talking amongst themselves and me having no idea what anything that was coming out of their mouths meant. So I went from feeling awkward talking to people I barely knew to feeling more awkward listening to them talk to each other. I glanced over at the girl, Elizabeth, noticing that she had been glancing at me too, so with a mumbled, “I’ll be right back,” I was walking toward her. With no intention of coming back, I sat down next to someone I thought I could actually have some fun with. I knew what I was doing, and there was no going back.

After a while of talking, we figured out that we both liked much of the same things and knew we would become the best of friends. That’s when we came to the topic of Morgan.

“So why do you and Morgan hate each other so much, you guys are classmates you know.” I questioned.

Elizabeth sighed, “We used to friends, the best of friends, but then things went wrong. She wanted me to change.”

“How so?”

“She wanted me to dress a certain way, not do certain things, act this way, and I told her no. So that was the end of that, we couldn’t be friends unless I was the person she wanted me to be. She didn’t like me for who I was; just what she thought she could make me into. We didn’t see eye to eye on many things; especially how she likes to make fun of certain people when I think we should all just get along.”
Elizabeth didn’t want to just be another clone like all of the other girls in her school acted like, but that was the only way to be accepted. So once she decided not to, everyone avoided and ridiculed her.

“You know what will happen if you become my friend right?” she whispered dejectedly to me.

I smiled, “Of course I do, I want to be your friend.”I reassuringly beamed at her.

Once the bell rang, we walked into school together, Morgan shouted some mean things at Elizabeth, and I stuck-up for her.
“You have no idea who you just passed up, the opportunity you just missed. You chose her over me, good luck being the most unpopular people in school. You know, I never did like you, I was just trying to be nice. I knew you were a creep from the first time I saw you” Morgan practically screeched and stalked off with her friends, who were shooting us dirty glances.
Whoa, anger management issues, I thought
One thing I didn’t realize, was that now, the whole school was against me and my new BFF. I had no idea the torture that was to come, no idea what was in store for me, and I was stuck there. Stuck with my decision, the side I chose. One decision I made, found me my “place.” Was I right, or was I wrong in my choice? It’s made me who I am today; I’ve always stuck with the harder, more rewarding in its own way route. Labels. Perhaps in just that town, just those people, just that state, just this country, just that continent, just, the world? Who am I to make assumptions on just one experience? To judge what I see, experience each and every day? Wouldn’t it be easier to just accept people for who they are, instead of grouping them as undesirable or trying to change them to be more like they are? It would be easier to just accept everyone, instead of just a handful of people who meet certain requirements. What we say and what we do affects everyone, you can never know how much something you say affects someone. “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”

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