BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — “Everyone’s a little worried the first day of high school.”
Yeah, they warned me. Before I first entered Bristol Eastern High School way back when, I received the same pep talk every incoming freshman gets: On the first day everyone’s confused; everyone’s shy; everyone loses something vitally important, whether it’s their schedule or themselves.
Basically, the first day of freshman year is an embarrassment waiting to happen.
Yeah, well. Looking back, it seems they really should have warned me about the second day.
I don’t mean to say that I didn’t get lost, say something idiotic, and generally make a complete fool of myself on the first day. I did. But I remember thinking with middle-schoolish optimism, that somehow, the second day wouldn’t be so overwhelming. I thought I might miraculously not get lost. I thought it would just generally go better.
I thought wrong.
Oh, it started out all right. I asked a teacher if we were supposed toreport to homeroom again on the second school day, and he told me no. So I ended up in the right place, to begin with.
In fact, my first period class, drama, went well, too. I actually made it there in time and had no problems except deciphering the seating chart.
Did you ever hear the phrase “the calm before the storm?”
Drama had come to an end, and I’d had a blast. Unfortunately, gym was next. I never enjoy gym, even on those delightful occasions when the most strenuous thing I have to do is remaining awake while receiving typo-riddled papers about grading systems and make-up work.
I’ve always sort of assumed my dislike for physical education was caused by bad experiences as a child, but I suppose it could have something to do with my complete lack of physical ability.
So it would have been bad enough going to gym class if I’d known where it was – which, of course, I didn’t.
I was lucky to meet a friend of mine in the hall who was also headed to the gym. She wasn’t sure where it was either, but between us we basically decided — or guessed — that it was somewhere down the hall.
I figured that if we were wrong, the gym was big enough that we’d find it eventually. And the fact that our school has two gyms, well, that only improved our odds. It would have been even nicer if I was aware my luck at the time.
Finally, after some walking, a lot of guesswork, and some unsettling thoughts about how gym teachers might like to punish latecomers, I decided not to test the we’ll-find-it-sooner-or-later theory.
So I did the only thing to do in the face of a crisis: ask someone who know what the heck they’re doing.
So I called out to the nearest person in a suit, “Uh, excuse me, Mr. Teacher Man?” Yes, in the face of crisis, Katie Jordan always knows just what to say.
“Yes, Miss Student Girl?” he replied. I’m not sure whether he was annoyed or amused, but as he was not one of my teachers, it didn’t really matter.
“Um, do you know where the gym is?” Hey, that seemed like a valid question at the time. Just because he had some business in BEHS didn’t necessarily mean he knew the location of the largest room in the school. After all, I had business there, and I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was.
Well, he resisted laughing long enough to tell us where to go, and we made it into the gym just in time to sit on the bleachers for ten minutes waiting for the teachers to arrive. Thank goodness.
After a long impassioned speech about gym clothes, make-up classes, participation, and such, we got to look around in the locker rooms and the torture chamber — uh, I mean the weight room, yeah … right.
Then it was off to my next class, English. I planned to use my best strategy for not getting lost: follow somebody who knows where the heck they’re going.
Unfortunately, the crowds at Eastern are huge, and I couldn’t find anyone to follow. So I was on my own. It was time for me to test myself.
I failed miserably.
I found stairs, after a little hunting, and I was headed in the right direction. I thought.
That was before I jumped up and down to see some room numbers over the crowd. No, that didn’t seem right at all. I decided to backtrack and see if that was the right way.
It was. No, wait. It wasn’t. Or was it?
Confused and befuddled, I kept walking. I figured, if I went around in a full circle I’d run into the room eventually, unless I was on the wrong floor, which really wouldn’t have surprised me.
Nope, I found it. After the bell rang.
“You have the first lunch wave, so you can just go down to the cafeteria,” said the teacher. Great. And after I went all the way around the school to get there.
So I dropped my bag on an empty desk and went on downstairs again. And no, I didn’t have any trouble finding the cafeteria. There were two other people going there ahead of me.
So I got in the lunch line behind another friend of mine, and started to tell him how badly my day was going so far.
Then I realized that I left my lunch money upstairs in my backpack. Some people would rather go upstairs to get their money than not eat lunch.
But I carefully weighed my options: After all, I had a mint. And I did find a table to sit at with my friends, so lunch wasn’t a total bust.
Then I had to go back to class, this time with a group. Together we found the stairs and went up.
And then I told them which way to go. Why? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I was possessed by mischievous demon.
Or maybe I’m just a complete and total idiot.
Anyway, you can predict what happened. We had to wander around the school before we found our room. After which I promptly told the others never to listen to me again.
English was alright, too. We did a few activities, as opposed to listening to the teacher drone on about the same stuff we’d already heard a million times. It was a nice change.
Then we went to history, where the teacher discussed all kinds of things, from plays to Europe to the weather. It started to rain right before school let out.
So I marched soggily along to find my mother’s car in the packed parking lot. Good luck.
Katie Jordan is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.