“I don’t know what’s going on with her lately,” my mom said with a high-pitched tone, when I walked through that door from school. “She’s always getting in trouble.” My mother was on the phone, standing near the refrigerator with her back against the wall. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I knew it wasn’t good. If I had to guess, I would have guessed the topic at hand was the elephant who just entered the room: me. She was probably talking about my recently “inappropriate behavior,” as my math teacher would say. I would talk back and have arguments with the other students. My grades were low, and I sometimes refused to listen to the rules.
I wasn’t always like this, and my mother knew it too. But once my best friend, Alisha, moved and my other friend, Tamara, started hanging out with two new girls the first day of fourth grade, I changed. I felt alone and distressed. The friendships that I thought were going to last forever had disappeared right in front of my eyes. At that point I didn’t know who to be anymore, but the “bad kid.” Some people would look at me as a troublesome kid, and that made me feel even more like an outcast. I felt as if I was unwanted, and that my friends didn’t even want to be around me. All of these bad thoughts came to my mind. I just wanted to disappear and run away, so then I wouldn’t be the lonely, annoying kid anymore.
During this time my mom would sit me down and have these long lectures about how disappointed in me she was, and how she knew I could do better. I would nod my head in agreement, but two or three days after that I was back at it again. I wasn’t trying to make my mom upset, but I couldn’t help but talk back to the teachers, especially my math teacher. She constantly picked on me for every question she asked in class, and that got on my nerves a lot!
My mother was still on the phone, so I walked into my room, turned on my light and saw some brown boxes beside my bed. I was a little confused about it, so I decided to wait until my mother got off the phone. I took my shoes off, turned off the light, and went to the living room to watch cartoons. The Looney Tunes were just ending and Tom and Jerry were up next. I laid on the couch with my feet off the edge. I watched a few episodes until I fell asleep. When I woke up, Tom and Jerry had ended. I scrolled through the channels trying to find something interesting to watch until, finally, I got up from the couch and peeked into the kitchen. My mom who was still on the phone. She saw me from the corner of her eye, but she only gave me a slight smile before turning her back.
“Okay, love you too,” I heard her say. “I’ll see you later on today, bye.” She hung up the phone and turned to face me again.
“Who was that?” I asked, with a curious look on my face.
“Oh, that was Auntie Sonya,” she said, and she asked me to sit down at the kitchen table.
I didn’t understand why my mom wanted to talk, but I could feel the mood change from calm to sort of serious. I hoped it wasn’t about school again, and how I was misbehaving.
“I know you’re not going to like what I am about to tell you, but here it is,” my mom said, as she held my hand. “Me and your Aunt was talking, and we thought it would do you some good to live with her and your two cousins for a while in Brockton.”
I was shocked. This explained why there were boxes near my bed, and why most of my things were in them.
My mom went on to explain how my Aunt was going to come to get me – later that very night. She had talked to my school and all my paperwork had already been sent to the new school. I would be starting on Monday.
As my mother talked, all I could think about was living in a new town where I barely knew anyone. I would feel even more alone than I already did at my school in Boston, and that thought scared me.
“Don’t be mad,” my mom said, hugging me tightly. “It’s only temporary, for a few months.” But how could I not be upset? I was leaving and moving to somewhere unknown…
With no alternatives, I started packing. Angry, I threw my clothes into the boxes. I couldn’t believe my mother had decided to just to kick me out – without even asking me if I was okay with it. Just then I stopped packing and looked in the mirror on the back of the closet wall. All I felt was this empty feeling inside. It was like everyone was leaving me behind, including my mother. I felt alone and scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me at this new school, or if I would even fit in there. I wanted to make up some excuse about why it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to leave Boston, but I knew in my heart that my mother had already made up her mind.
It was now almost seven o’clock and my aunt was going to arrive soon. Since my mom had already packed most of my stuff, all I really had to do was pack my shoes and the rest of the clothes I had in my back closet. The doorbell rang, and as I tried to pretend not to hear it, my mom yelled, “I know you hear the doorbell, go get the door!” With a sigh, I rolled my eyes and dragged myself through the kitchen. When I opened the door, my cousin Purah was standing there with an angry stare on her face.
“Hey, where’s your mom?” she said, with a tense tone.
“Not sure, the kitchen maybe. What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing” Purah said, and she pushed past me to get through the door. My other cousin, Raynika, who is much older than me, smiled and gave me the biggest bear hug. Over her shoulder I saw that my Aunt was still parking the car. I closed the door but left it unlocked so that she would be able to get inside, and I went to my room. My aunt finally made it into the house and she went straight into the kitchen to talk to my mom. Raynika, who was also in the kitchen, came into my room and started picking up some boxes and taking them to the car. Purah helped out too, at the beginning, but then got tired and started to slow down. We had about four boxes left and Purah decided to help me out with the rest. As we got the boxes, she told me that she was sorry for her attitude, and that she was upset that she had to share her room with me. I was a little hurt by the comment, but I did understand how this huge change could make a person a little unpleasant. I nodded my head and told her it was okay. I told her that everything was changing so fast and that it was making me upset, too. We were able to laugh at that. We hugged and got the rest of the boxes into the car. As we were walking back inside, I heard the echo of my Aunt’s and Mom’s laughter.
“So, I guess we’re all ready and packed to go,”my Aunt said, rubbing my back softly. My mom pulled me close. She told me that she loved me and that I would make friends quickly. But in my mind, all I could think was, “Yeah, like I had so many friends at my old school.”
In the car on route I- 93, as we headed towards the Randolph line, I looked out the window and tried to listen to the music my aunt had just put on. I couldn’t see really much of anything because it was so dark outside. All I could see were store lights high above the highway. My cousin was explaining their everyday routine to me, and what kind of chores I would have to do at the house. My older cousin was excited and she started to talk about how much fun we were going to have. Suddenly, all of these emotions started going through my body at once. I couldn’t believe my life was changing so fast, and I couldn’t do much to stop it.
When we got to Brockton, my cousin Purah pointed to the school that we would be going to on Monday. It wasn’t surprising to me to find out that we would be going to the same school, we were around the same age, but I was two to three years older than her which meant that we weren’t going to be in the same classroom. I would only see her at lunchtime or around the hallways. This meant that I would still have to make new friends, so the news didn’t give me a feeling of relief, but instead that lonely feeling again.
As we made it into the driveway and got out of the car, a cold breeze hit my face. It was chilly that night and I wasn’t trying to stay outside any longer than I had to. I grabbed two boxes and walked quickly to the front door. My cousins helped as they got as many boxes as they could, until finally there were only three boxes left. After my aunt unlocked the door to the house, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything was decorated so differently than my last visit. It seemed welcoming. There were paintings hanging on the walls that showed people singing and dancing, all in black and white, and the artifacts and candles that were placed on the glass table in the living room matched the décor. The smell from the kitchen smelled like home, with the scent of spices roaming in the air.
I went into my cousin’s room that we would be sharing. There was a bunk bed with Cinderella bed sheets and a comforter on top. Everything seemed to be placed all over and nothing was neatly organized. But my cousin started helping unpack and telling me where all my clothes were going to go. She looked sad and I could tell that she was still a bit annoyed that we were sharing a room, but she tried to hide it with a smile. I felt like I had overstepped a boundary.
“Hey, I’m going to take a shower, Vanessa,” she said. Then she smiled. “You can make yourself at home. I’m glad you’re here.” She grabbed her towel and left the room. In that moment, I felt like I wasn’t an outsider in an unknown place anymore.
The next morning, we were running a little late for school. We were in the car while my Aunt drove as fast as she could in the traffic. When we finally entered the drive way of the school we parked in the closest spot we could towards the front entrance and Purah and I got out. We said our goodbyes to my Aunt and started to walk inside. As we walked, Purah stopped and talked to what seemed to be some of her friends from her class. Then she looked back at me and introduced to me to them. Even though they were younger than me, it felt good to talk to them and meet new people. After, we walked up the stairs and entered the school. I was surprised that it felt like I was with my old friends again, but with new faces. Already we were laughing and talking, and I didn’t feel scared or nervous anymore. I realized that even though I wasn’t living with my mom anymore, or going to the same school, I could make a fresh start here. I wouldn’t be seen as the “trouble kid” who didn’t follow the rules, but maybe as a good student with new friends and a new beginning.