“Oh my god. You’re hilarious!” My companion laughed.
I smiled as though I had been told that hundreds of times and didn’t care. But I did care. I hadn’t been told that. I was building a new persona. I could. I didn’t know any one in this new school. Ok, I knew 5 kids. Amongst hundreds. I was pretty safe in creating my new persona. This was the fourth class, and I hadn’t seen any of them. And I was on the look out.
I had decided a few weeks before that I could be whoever I wanted to be. So I decided to be funny and smart and brave. Last year I had decided that I was no longer be everyone’s favorite whipping boy. That vow still stayed in contact.
I started this period, PE, with a few jokes to the girl next to me, as I had in every class. She laughed at all of them. She was slightly taller than me with short, straight hair in a bob and laughing blue eyes.
“Come on. Let’s pick out our lockers.”
I followed her and selected one near her’s. I put my new red shirt and blue soccer shorts in the locker and put my combination lock. It was my father’s when he was in Academy.
I turned around to see a face that was familiar.
“Hey. Um. You’re Fae ——–. Aren’t you?”
And I was right.
“Hey, A—–. How’s it going?”
The A—- had been in school with me starting when we were 4. I was the youngest in the class, and her family had just immigrated Lebanon. We had been friends until she left the second day of fifth grade, and I never saw her again until now. My present and past collided. She could blow my new persona away.
“Good. It’s good to see you here at ——. Wha-”
The bell rang.
My companion turned to me. “Hey! You want to eat lunch with me? (My heart leapt! I was planning on lunch alone. Like I had most of the year last year. But a friend! Someone to sit with! This was better than I could have hoped.”
“I have to warn you. I’m in the band. So you’re going to be sitting with band geeks.”
As though I cared. I had been called far, far worse.
Oh right. “Um, A—-, I’ll see you around. We are in the same PE class. We should catch up!”
“Yeah, no problem. I gotta find my friends. I’m not who I was.”
Aren’t we all?
I turned. Time shifted under my feet. My first high school lunch mate was walking up to me. I shifted Tornado A’s weight on my hip. She was a little heavier from the last I time I had seen her. But, God, weren’t we all? She still had those laughing blue eyes, but her hair was in small waves in a short hairstyle.
I flashbacked to that first day of school. She was the first person who thought I was funny and wanted to hang out with me. And then I smiled as I remembered my first lunch at college was with the chamber orchestra kids. I’m always surrounded by musicians. Even though I stopped eating with the band kids after a week or so and ate with my little group that included A—-, S—- and I remained friends throughout high school. Now here she stood at an elementary school.
I wondered how much of me was that high school girl I used to be. I liked her. Except the crazy, emotional parts. But I blame that on puberty. I hoped I was more than that girl like I was in college. More like me than a mom. A very responsible, adult. Crap. When did that happen?
“You have a kid that goes here?”
Christ, when did I get so old that I had a kid going to elementary school?
“Yeah. We just moved over from another school. He’s in second grade.”
“So is my son! What teacher?”
“My son has her too! What’s your boy’s name?”
“Tornado E?! I just met him yesterday! He’s so sweet and funny. He was loving on my boy!”
Translation: my son was messing with her boy. Note to self: make sure Tornado E understands that he has to respect people’s personal boundaries.
“If he ever messes too much with your son, let me know.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. Are these your other boys?”
“Yes, Tornado S and Tornado A.”
“They’re so cute. I have to run. We should get together and catch up.”
My past and present colliding again. That’s what I get for moving into my hometown and my high school zoning.
“Mommy, you didn’t ask her what her son’s name was?”
I looked down at big brown eyes. Damn. My kid has better manners than I do. Thank God.