A Tale of Two Beginnings
Wait so youre like Belgian or something?
No I just lived there for a while.
So what is your Dad in the like navy or something?
No, his job just moved over there, and so did we.
Oh So do you speak like Belgianese?
Is she really that stupid or am I just overreacting?
It was like a rushing sea in front of me, kid upon kid flooding out of buses and vans, up stairs and through doors, too me it was chaos. The world in front of me had changed dramatically since the tour the day earlier. The tour that led me around a school the likes of which Id never seen. Walking around the day before words like incredible, inspiring, and impressive popped in and out of my head. Today the words that drowned my thoughts were more like chaotic, crazy, and catastrophic. I was lost, that was the easiest way to put it. Id come from a school with 30 kids in a class, to an institution with over 2,000. I looked so stupid standing on the concrete slab that divided the bus parking stations as everyone else rushed past me, intent on their destinations. But I didnt know where to go, I didnt have a destination. The nervous panic that was rising through my body was almost about to consume me, and I found myself oddly self-conscious. But just before the panic set in, my savior appeared through the waves of students.
Class we have a new student today, his name is Felix and hes coming to us from Belgium. Isnt it exciting to have a European in class with us?
Im not European, Im American, I was born in the hospital down the street.
Oh, Im sorry, the office said you came from Belgium.
I did, but Im not a citizen there.
Well thats rather confusing.
Its really not.
Are the teachers really that dense too?
The giant man towered among the sea of students like a warship. Kids funneled around him like the ocean parted for the hull of boat. He was smiling, either happy to see I was still alive or laughing at my misfortune. He waved his massive arm and signaled me to come over to him, prompting me to navigate my way across the rippling torrent of students. I hesitated, then obeyed and tried my best to make my way across the heavily trafficked lot. I dodged and dipped past high schoolers, and pushed my way past elementary students. It took me a bit, but I finally stood next to the only person I recognized in the scramble of faces, Mr. Silcock. I followed in his wake as we made our way up the stairs and into the courtyard above the bus parking lot. I was greeted with another chaotic scene. It seemed like everyone in the school was out in the courtyard passing a soccer ball or throwing around a football. Or in the case of the girls, huddled by the edges spreading the daily gossip. A football rolled over to my feet and I bent down to pick it up. When I looked up there were kids calling for me to throw it, so I did. It was a perfect spiral, one Id have been proud to throw any day. The boy I threw it too smiled and said thanks. It felt good to throw the ball like that. I felt good. That was until Mr. Silcock opened the door to the middle school lobby.
Hey waffles, wheres the syrup?! Why is he wearing a sweater?
I heard he doesnt even speak English.
I bet he thinks hes better than us.
If he liked Europe so much why did he leave?
I wonder why he chose to come too Holy Name.
Honestly, I think hes kinda weird.
They dont think I can hear them, but they are not very good at being subtle.
I was following behind Mr. Silcock, examining the schedule he had given me just a few moments earlier. It was confusing to say the least, there being two different weeks with a totally different schedule everyday. As I tried my best to decipher the schedule, the pair of us moved through the now empty hallways as Mr. Silcock led me to my first class. I glanced into every classroom we passed; trying to figure out what was being taught and what grade the students were in. I thought Id passed some French classes and a math class or two but I wasnt sure. I didnt know if most classes were taught in French or only the French classes were, something I should probably have asked the day before. I decided to refocus my efforts on the schedule Id been trying to decode, but as soon as I put my head down to read, Mr. Silcock stopped. He opened the door and I walked into my first class at St. Johns International School, to the silent stares of the 20 or so students sitting in the chairs around me, quietly dissecting me.
Is this seat taken?
Uhhh, yeah my friend Jeremy, yeah Jeremy is sitting here.
Oh alright then.
Theres an empty table over there I think.
Yeah I see it.
Because new kids always want to eat by themselves, right?
It literally only took a half an hour for my buddy to lose me. As Mr. Silcock had dropped me off at the classroom, he assigned one of the students who was in most of my classes to be my buddy. His name was Arthur, though when he talked in French it sounded more like Artoor. I knew he could speak English but he refused to break from French, we were even in an English speaking class, one where the teacher was American and didnt even speak anything but english, yet he continued to speak in French. When class ended everyone jumped out of their chairs and poured back out into the hallways. I tried my best to keep up but I found myself moving against the current at times. As the students gushed out of the end of the hallway I saw Arthur standing next to the stairs. I walked over and asked where the next class was, he said something in French I didnt understand and proceeded to point to the end of the hallway where there was a bathroom sign. He then left me there and went down the hallway and disappeared around the corner. He didnt come back.
Yo man we need one more for basketball today, who should I ask?
You think we should ask the new kid?
Dude Europeans suck at basketball.
Hes not actually European, but I dont think he plays either.
Whatever I'll just text Mike or something, hell play
I do play basketball, you could have at least asked.
It was like I was on a raft in the middle of the ocean; I had no idea where I was or where anything was in regards to me. I was shipwrecked in a stone covered courtyard. For all the people that had been out in the space for the beginning of the day, it was kind of eerie to see it completely empty. I knew I had English from recently being able to decipher my schedule, but had no idea where it was, and even if I did, I didnt know how to get there. I could feel the panic start to rise up in my chest and before I knew what was happening, I was running. I didnt know where I was running, but running seemed like the best idea. I ran out of the courtyard and down the stairs that led to the buses. Empty. Next I ran back up and into the middle school. Again empty. The panic had completely kicked in and I felt like I was drowning in it. I didnt have a cell phone, or a map, or any idea where anyone who could help me was, so I just sat down on a bench. Id tried running; Id tried panicking, now Id try doing nothing. And amazingly, it worked.
Youre the new kid right?
Yeah, today was my first day.
Well hi, my names John.
Hi, Im Felix.
You ready for your first boring ass bus ride home?
I guess so ha ha.
I cant wait til I can drive. You play soccer man?
I love soccer.
Sweeeet, we should kick around sometime.
Sounds good to me.
Finally, I made a friend.
Somehow Mr. Silcock found me sitting on the bench and came to my rescue. I told him how my buddy had disappeared and how Id spent a good amount of time running around panicking. All of this made him laugh as he navigated me to my next class, only after handing me a map with all of my classrooms clearly marked and carefully explaining how to get to each destination. When we opened the door to the building I could hear a teacher yelling at a student down the hallway. It was my English teacher, yelling at Arthur for losing me. He proclaimed his innocence, now speaking perfect English, saying he had went to the bathroom and I had run away. This justice of sorts made me feel good, as it probably meant the end of my new kid hazing. This time when Mr. Silcock picked my new buddy, he made sure they wouldnt lose me by threatening to put a mark their personal record. This made the entire class laugh and I could see they were all smiling at me. I took my seat next to my new buddy, Daniel, and began to listen to the lecture on The Old Man and the Sea. He said I threw a nice spiral.
Dude I completely forgot you didnt go to school with us til the ninth grade.
Yeah man, where did you come from like France or something?
I lived in Belgium you dope
We were such assholes to you freshman year man.
Yeah bro sorry about that.
Its all good fellas, whats done is done, its in the past now.
Freshman year was such a blur, I couldnt even tell you what happened the first day you came