Welcome Back

Welcome back. Doesn’t time fly? Think: You were at the pool just last week; reclining supine, eating dollar dogs, loading on the ketchup. But you knew it would end soon. You knew that in a week you’d be back in this place, taking whatever seat was available. You’re not picky. But Rick, who’s sitting in front of you and reeks of oatmeal, is. You know that Rick took pains to pick the perfect seat, nearest the perfect girl, so he could show off his new backpack with the perfectly ironic juxtaposition of popular figure and phrase. Now Rick’s unhappy with his choice, and he’s being kind of an asshole. But you don’t mind because he was like that last year. Nothing’s new. No one’s changed. Peter still talks to himself, Sarah’s still stuffing her bra. You found out that one day after gym class, but she didn’t (doesn’t?) know you saw. She thought no one was there. Most people think that w/r/t you. They don’t think you’re there. But you are; you see things, and you don’t say a word. You wouldn’t dream of it. You just lean against the bus window, occasionally repositioning yourself to ease the soreness from the obtrusive spring that’s lightly prodding your keister, and get ready for round 8.

They say eighth’s the best. Things aren’t serious: It’s middle school. The other kids have yet to get the memo. Steve likes Sue, but Sue has the hots for Ryan, who’s best friends with Steve (but clearly not, since he flirts with Sue behind Ryan’s back and invited her to the mall just last weekend), and Ryan isn’t really interested in anyone right now[1], especially not Sue, who just can’t take it anymore and was contemplating looting her mother’s pill cabinet last night and putting an end to the whole cruel ordeal once and for all. Things aren’t serious. You hover above your peers like a luxury jet over the Third World. You’re cool. You’re perceptive. You see dying people and flash them an encouraging smile. They don’t get it.

Open your eyes: You’re here. The doors are open and the students are mobilizing. Take your time, there’s no rush. Pack up your iPod; rub that cool red window impression off your soft white cheek; zip your backpack. You’ve got 13 minutes, no worries. Nothing’s new. No one’s changed. You’re not gonna miss a thing. Rick’s still an asshole, Sue’s still thinking about it, Mark’s head is still shot off by his father’s money. Remember when you were thinking of telling them everything you thought last year, when that thing just about set you off? It’s probably good you didn’t. It’s never wise to tear away the veil. Remove it slowly, once you have the proper tools. Learn to write and speak clearly. Keep studying. It’s frustrating to see things and not know how to relate them, I know. One day you’ll be allowed. One day your gates will slowly open, and people will be floored. But for now just keeping doing your thing. You’ve got this.

Welcome back. Your teachers missed you. They have fun plans for this year: You’re gonna read The Kite Runner and talk about it in small groups and everyone will have pleasant things to say. Make sure you participate to get those points. Make some friends. Quote some TV shows. Flirt with a boy. Hell, flirt with a few! Get in there and have some fun.

I know, I know. Keep your chin up.


1As it turns out, Ryan’s gay. That’ll come out* later
*no pun intended


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