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My First Day In New School

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I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, a small, safe suburban town next to the stunning Lake Erie. I was born in this city of mediocre schools, but a city of people I had grown up with since kindergarten. I was comfortable in my skin of shyness and studiousness, and comfortable with my close-knit circle of school friends from chorus club. It was beyond upsetting to learn that my dad had found a new engineering job in Houston, Texas, and that I had to leave behind the last 11 years of my life: my friends, my school, my community, my home. Within a few months, in November of 2014, my dad shifted to a small apartment in Humble. My mother, sister and I stayed in Erie to finish the school year until the summer. My last few days in Erie looked a lot like back-to-back farewell dinners, long-lasting hugs, tons of phone numbers exchanged, and hundreds upon hundreds of tears shed. We had to part our ways with my hometown, and in a flash, our flight to Houston had finally landed. Unfortunately, two days later, my grandfather had a heart bypass and had to have surgery for it; my father had to go to Pakistan to take care of him with my grandmother and my uncle. Without my dad, we had to spend a month on our own in a city we had just arrived in. We didn’t know where anything was, or what to do in order to prepare for the move. My mother had to struggle the most with this, but constantly assured my sister and me that everything would be okay as long as she was there.

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The two cities were completely different. In Erie, wherever we went, someone we knew would wave hello and strike up a small conversation. But in Houston, we only knew one family that lived an hour away. I knew no one at my new school, which was strange because I was so used to knowing everyone in Erie. The family we knew in Houston introduced me to a family that lived next door, whom had a daughter in my grade. Her name was Nina. This helped just the slightest, but I was still a nervous wreck. Before I knew it, my dad had returned from his visit, and I had to get ready to go to Riverwood. After months of searching, we had finally found the perfect house and were allowed to move into it after a month. My hopeful, imaginative mother wished for a garden in our new home. She especially wanted a bed of daffodils, yellow to brighten up our dull, white-all-over house. Since there was nothing in the backyard at that time, it seemed nearly impossible. It also seemed difficult because daffodils only grew in the spring, and it was the middle of Houston’s scorching early-August heat. My mother kept on hoping for them, even if it would never work. She claimed that the garden would grow alongside us in this new chapter of our lives, and I couldn’t agree more.

At last, it was the day I had feared for months… the first day of school. Upon reaching, I had finally found Nina. She introduced me to her small group of two friends. To my dismay, none of us had any classes together, so I had to power through the rest of the day on my own. My minimal knowledge of Texan culture was also not in my favor. When the Texas Pledge of Allegiance came on over the morning announcements and everyone recited it from memory, I was struggling to comprehend what the principal said. When my English class ended by discussing favorite ice cream flavors, I was completely clueless about what “Blue Bell” tasted like. My non-Southern self was being thrown into the spotlight, and I could not stand it. I also had a burning headache thanks to my first ever pep rally, where everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs. Finally, it was lunch, the dreaded hour in which everyone seemed to have their own table, except me. I considered sitting alone because I knew only one person who I could not seem to find. Suddenly I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of coming back ever again. I went to the bathroom and just cried until I no longer could. I was about to call my mom to come pick me up because there was no way I could deal with this any longer. But when I was in there, Nancy, who was also in my choir class, saw me and approached me asking what was wrong. She could tell that I was upset, and invited me to sit with her for the rest of lunch. I followed her and she introduced me to one of her other friends, Patricia. The two of them and their lunch table instantly made me feel a hundred times better.

When I heard the bell ring for dismissal, my mom picked me up and we returned home. She asked me how my first day was like; I was mentally exhausted and didn’t even know what to begin with. However, now that I had temporarily found a group of friends and found my way around the school, I felt so much relief. I now had barely enough confidence to walk into school without feeling like I would be criticized for knowing nothing. I could walk in with my head held up higher than I normally would, thanks to my lovely new friends. We finally moved into our newly built, two-story house, still redolent of paint. The front and back yard were completely desolate, and were stripped of everything but dirt. In one moment, I spotted something in the corner of the backyard. It was a single, one-inch dandelion, almost flattened by the fence. It made me think that if I stayed hopeful and saw the best out of any difficult situation, just like the golden dandelion, I would be satisfied, just like my mom said. Maybe life could be joyful.

13 January 2020

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