At the age of three my parents had decided to put an end to their toxic marriage which ultimately led to my mother moving a few states away. At the time, I wasn't highly affected by my parent's divorce, it wasn't until I entered school did it really start to take a toll on my emotional stability. At the tender age of five, I started to wonder why I didn't see my mother often, why it was always my father picking and dropping me off at school, packing my lunches and deciding what I was going to wear and not her. I remember asking my father "Why doesn't mommy take me to school," and he replied with a shrug. I guess at the time, it was easier to not respond than it was to tell a five-year-old that my mother had moved away, and probably wasn't coming back. As the school year went on, I gradually began to stop asking about my mother and started to focus more on learning the order of the alphabet and how to count to one hundred. I was never too keen on nap time, so instead of sleeping, I counted the number chairs in the room or the number of hairs on my head (granted after a while I began to count chunks).
By the time I was six, I was the "valedictorian" of the graduating kindergarten class. Before I knew it, summer was rolling around again which meant no homework and longer playdates or so I thought. About two weeks into summer break, my father began to pack my bags, telling me I was going on vacation. I was so excited to go on vacation that I forgot to ask why I was the only one going. A few days later, we drove to the airport where I met this nice lady, Alice, who was to be my babysitter on the plane. When it came time to say goodbye to my father, I didn't know it would be years before I saw him again, so I simply settled with "See ya later alligator." I was lonely on the plane. Sure Alice made sure I was comfortable and she stopped by to talk to me whenever she could, but it still wasn't enough. I didn't know where I was going and if Alice was coming too. It turns out she wasn't. When I got off the plane, the air was hot and muggy and I struggled to breathe. Alice walked me to a woman who looked vaguely familiar and left me there. I didn't know who this woman was but I was strangely comfortable with her. It turns out, she's my mother.
I had arrived in a little town that smelled like an attic and had red dirt and debris visibly floating in the air. It seemed as if every time I took a step, more and more clay-colored dirt began to fly everywhere. It was horrible. I spent that summer trying to keep my legs from being covered in dirt, but it was inevitable. Time began to fly by after I became acquainted with the neighborhood kids, none of which were in my grade. When school came around, I found myself struggling to make friends with kids my age. They seemed more judgmental here in North Carolina than they were back in D.C. I was reluctant to talk during the first few months of first grade, mainly because the kids teased me because of my "accent", but really they were the ones talked funny. During recess, I began to run more and swing across the monkey bars and do things that were considered "unladylike." I didn't really care about proper female adequate which led fewer girls who were willing to be my friend. As time went on, we were forced to present projects in front of the class and when it was my turn, I suddenly became nervous. It wasn't because of the snickers or remarks about my scratchy handwriting, but it was because of this feeling that I needed to be impressive. I spent the rest of my first-grade year trying to impress the kids who asked why was my skin so dark.
Second-grade wasn't any better. That year consisted of me trying to figure out why God made me so different than everyone else around me. I often found myself asking God why he was punishing me. Was it because I swung to high on the swing set, because I ran like a chicken without its head, or was it simply to torment me? He never answered my questions.
Halfway into my third-grade year, my mother announced we were moving to Virginia so I could be closer to my father. Yet again, I questioned why God was doing this to me.
School in Virginia was very different than school in North Carolina. It was less of the content they taught but more so the people in the classrooms. When I first met my third-grade teacher, Mrs.Falcone, I became almost obsessively attached to her. She reminded me of the elderly lady who lived next to my father. I remember that classroom feeling like home and never wanting to leave. Sally Dean Elementary gave me a sense of belonging for the two years I was there before I had to graduate and move on.
The rest of my educational years were dull and made me feel as if I were a robot, doing what I was programmed to do; learn. Each year was the same, slide after slide and Cornell note after note. It seems that my educational experience will continue to rotate on this perfect axis until graduation, where we can change the course of our rotation and finally press the shuffle button. Until then, I’m forced to stay and follow the yellow brick road.