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First Day of School

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The bell just rang. My palms are damp and beads of sweat are forming on my forehead. I’m late to class. I’ll walk into the classroom and everyone will already be seated. The teacher will be reading the syllabus, or perhaps giving a lecture or asking everyone to say their name out loud the way teachers did in elementary school. All eyes will shift towards me. Everyone will be all put together-girls will be wearing their white,eyelet skirts,delicate as spiderwebs. The teacher will be wearing a neat,crisply-pressed suit fresh from the dry cleaners. Me, I’ll trudge forward with my bag full of Trapper Keepers and a new box of Crayola 24 crayons(with a built-in pencil sharpener), and perhaps some left-over spanakopita my mom made the night before.

Meanwhile,back at the ranch:I’m looking around for room C202 and I’m panting. I stop to ask a portly woman wearing a sundress where C202 is. She says,walk straight ahead,then turn right. I say thank you graciously, then trudge onward with my overstuffed backpack. Now that I imagine that scene, I see the little garden gnome from the Travelocity commercial.Or maybe one of the dwarfs from Snow White? I wonder, did Bashful carry a knapsack?

Suddenly, I can’t remember:did the woman I talked to in the hallway say turn left? Or turn right? Maybe if I make a wrong turn,then turn around,then I’ll get it right?

I stop to ask a middle-aged man with a goatee and a beer belly where C202 is.

“Take a right.”

Turns out I was right after all,although I was deeply convinced that my imagination was playing tricks on me. I take a sigh of relief. I take a right, and see a sign dark as granite with the room number on it: C2O2. I’ve found it at last.

There are no seats left in the front, so I take a seat in the back,hoping that no one will notice me;yet at the same time wishing they did. I had went to the department store at the beginning of the month to make sure I was ready for this. At the same time, You blew it,my mind says. Another chance,another wasted opportunity for a fresh start. I wonder if it is better to be seen for what you are,or not to be seen at all.

The boy in front of me-he’s got dark,curly hair-has passed me a green paper:Ms.Kunnappallil’s Honors Algebra II. The teacher is some Indian guru lady. After she’s done reading out loud the supplies(“Nom-ber too pen-cils”,”comp-oz-esion note-book”,and “TI atee-three calc-you-later”), she asks for a volunteer. The boy in front of me raises his hand,then goes to the front of the room.
“Een Een-dee-a”, she says,”we work very hard. Keeds learn algae-bra,calc-youlus,een meedle school. Een Am-er-eeka,we lazy. You”,she points to Curly Hair.”What eez your name?”

“Andrew.”

“An-drew? Don’t be lazee,An-drew.”

Ms. K gives Andrew a pat on the back,then he goes to sit down,ashamed. I think I’m going to like having an Indian guru/spiritual adviser for a math teacher.

On my way to second period-Chemistry- I see a couple of kids I recognize from math class. I’m on my way up the staircase when I see a girl I know from last year,with long,jet black hair flowing down her back. The girl says hi to me, cheerfully.

“Hey”, I say.



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