On August 18th of last year, I was late to my first British Literature class. I was also late to my AP Language and Composition class, which happened to be taught by the same teacher. For about a month I was convinced that said teacher thought I was destined to be late for everything, even though I was only late those two times.
Until May 18th. Thursday of last week.
My first class was optional that day because the day before we had taken the AP test and my teacher was giving us a break. So, my mom and I decided to walk to Starbucks, get some coffee, and then go to school. This plan would have been perfect had I not decided to spend three hours watching Parks and Rec the night before which led to me waking up an hour later than planned. I scrambled to get ready and spent the walk back from Starbucks panicking about being late for British Literature. When I got to school, I signed in at the office, jumped over backpacks in the hallway, and opened the door to the classroom only to see dozens of eyes stare up at me.
Flashback to my first day, I very vividly remember walk/running from the gazebo (ahh, the blessed gazebo) to the classroom and opening the door. When I stepped into the room, dozens of eyes looked up at me and I felt my heart and stomach switch places- at least that's what it felt like. I'm sure it was only about two seconds, but it felt like a good minute and a half before someone motioned to an empty seat and I hurried to sit down. It was then that my teacher had an idea. It was an idea that would make taking attendance much easier. It was also an idea that quickly became my worst nightmare. I had just situated myself next to two complete strangers when the voice of my teacher said:
"When I call your name please stand up so I know you're here."
Again, my heart and stomach seemed to switch places.
I sat in my seat, dreading the moment I knew was coming soon. The projector showed the computer screen on the whiteboard and you could see the names of everyone in the class. From the table next to me, I heard a voice whisper "who's Claira Eastwood?" I slowly raised my hand to her and tried to smile. Soon, I heard my teachers voice call my name and I stood up, my gray skirt seeming like a bad idea as I tried to straighten myself up. Being the only one standing, I felt very front and center, and it was obvious that I was new, unknown, and unfamiliar.
Back to where we left off on May 18th, nine long months later. I was standing in the doorway with my caramel macchiato in one hand, notebook in the other, looking out at the sea of eyes staring up at me. As I made my way over to my seat, I pulled out my copy of Frankenstein, and smiled to myself. I was no longer new, unknown, or unfamiliar. In fact, the yearbooks were passed out that day and I have never felt more like I belonged somewhere.
Last Thursday, I reposted an essay I wrote when I had to get new shoes. I was sad about losing my gray shoes and replacing them because it felt like the end of an era. So many things had changed in the previous few months, and I didn't like the fact that my everyday pair of shoes had to change as well. Even so, as I read the essay the last paragraph struck me. It says: "Change isn't easy for anyone, and in many cases, it comes with feelings of loss. Whether you're moving or starting something new, change feels like a loss of the familiar. But sometimes the unfamiliar isn't a bad thing. Just like the purple shoes, it makes room for new memories, experiences, and adventures. It gives you a chance to become something different or expand on who you already are. It can fix the holes and clean the dirt and make you feel new and fresh. Sure, it's still scary and you need to break yourself in a little bit, but eventually, you'll look back on when everything was scary and different and realize that the blister is gone. You're comfortable and happy where and who you are."
This year has been one for new memories, experiences, and adventures. I have met people that will be friends for life, and I have changed in so many ways for the better. I had to break my way in, and the blister may have lasted for a while, but it is certainly gone now. I am comfortable and happy with where and who I am.