I was scared, but only I knew it. Momma combed my hair into long curls with a comb dipped in cold water – think Shirley Temple. A quick breakfast in the kitchen, and then I walked to the bus stop with the kids I’d just met and barely knew, and took a bus to the first school I’d ever attended.
Once there, my new friends left me to go to their classes saying just ask for the principal, so I asked the first grown up I saw.
I was determined not to cry, but the butterflies in my stomach made me feel like throwing up my breakfast. I swallowed hard before answering this kind and smiling lady’s question of why my parents weren’t with me. “Momma doesn’t drive and she’s home with my little brother. Daddy went to work at 5 this morning.
I have all my papers and stuff, and I’m supposed to give them to the principal.” I handed her the envelope full of information I could not yet read.
She took me in hand, and I eventually found myself in a first grade classroom with another young woman introducing me to a class of yet more strangers.
Sitting at a desk in a classroom listening to the teacher talk felt somehow right, and at lunch, everyone wanted to know me because I was from Texas. They all seemed to think that all Texans carried guns, rode horses and knew John Wayne personally.
The ride home that first day was reflective as I looked out the window at the verdant countryside. I knew that my entire world had changed, and I would never be the same. Some of my new friends were sorry for me, for in their eyes no one cared enough to go with me. Some of my friends thought it was cool that I could go out into the world alone and unafraid.
I was a little sad for myself, too, but I was also little bit proud; I knew I was okay alone among strangers. It would stand me in good stead as time and again, I walked into a brand new school and enrolled myself.
Although I enrolled in February, with the teacher’s help, I caught up to the rest of the class before school let out for the summer in June.