(To start from the beginning – or read other grades – go here).
My first year riding a school bus in a city full of school busses.
To understand Midland, you have to understand the complex bussing system in place in the early nineties. Due to many factors, the populations of the local schools are readjusted annually. Most of us end up going to a different school every year. In 4th grade, I ride a bus from my home to the local elementary school, Santa Rita, where I catch another bus to the school I attend, Jane Long. It’s complex, but we soldier through.
Mid-Fall, I’m accepted into GEM, the local gifted program. Now, two days a week, I’m supposed to take the bus to Santa Rita and catch another bus to Carver, a new school. I’m nervous about the change, so, while waiting for the bus outside my home, I zip my jacket up over my mouth and chew on the zipper.
I decide to ignore the instructions I’m given regarding transportation. Instead, I ride the bus to Jane Long, as usual. I wait until all the other kids have shuffled off the bus to approach Miss Debbie, the bus driver. I tell her I was supposed to go to a different school on the other side of town and she – bless her – drives me there even though her shift is over because she’s an angel.
I’m late, so Miss Debbie walks me into the school and hands me off to the Principal. I’m escorted to my first class. The teacher introduces me and tells me I can take off my jacket and hang it in the lockers in the hall.
Only, I can’t take off my jacket.
My chewing has dislodged several of the zipper’s teeth. My new classmates stare at me over copies of the book Prancer as I lean over the teachers desk while she pounds the zipper back into place with a mallet borrowed from the janitor.
It takes me a while to make friends.
I develop a strong affinity for Trolls and begin to amass an enormous collection. I name each Troll after one of my girl friends. We all collect Trolls and talk about them non-stop.
I make it to the school-wide Spelling Bee and get dinged out in the first round. I leave the ‘h’ out of whimper and start crying on stage.
Later in the year, I win my school’s Cinco de Mayo History Bee. My picture is in the local paper. In the picture, I’m holding two Trolls.