I get a little sentimental this time of year with school starting. The other day I was at Wal-Mart and it was crawling with moms and their, what looked to be, college freshman. As I walked down the household cleaner aisle, one mom was telling her 6 foot tall son the difference between laundry detergents. He looked like a deer in the headlights as he nodded, agreeing with whatever his mom said.
That got me thinking about when my parents first took me up to college. The scene in Stop!, when Hollis says goodbye to her parents in the dorm parking lot was loosely based on my experience. Then I thought about my first day of high school.
Have I mentioned my mind rambles sometimes?
So, the first day of high school I was beyond nervous. Because of health issues, I hadn’t been in a regular classroom in about seven years. For grades 3, 4, and 5 I had a homebound teacher. I then went to a special school that accommodated kids with disabilities from grades 6 through 9. Midway through my freshman year, I decided it was time to experience public high school. It those days it was called mainstreaming and you had to jump through a few hoops during the process. After a lot of paperwork, meetings, and interviews I found myself in tenth grade homeroom. Most of the students grew up together and had been classmates since kindergarten. I didn’t know a soul.
I sat in the front row, scribbling in my notebook so I’d look busy, as everyone filed in the class. The bell rang, the door closed, I looked up, and saw him walking straight toward me. He was really tall, brown hair, pretty cute, and sat in the desk behind me. As the room filled with chatter, I don’t remember hearing him say anything, but I was very nervous about my surroundings.
Once the teacher was done with announcements, the chatter started back up. I resumed scribbling in my notebook.
Finally, the bell rang and everyone jumped up ready to start their first day as official high school sophomores. I stayed in my seat, waiting for most of the class to empty. The boy behind me got up and walked out the door. I remember him wearing a blue and gray Fort Johnson High football jersey.
I thought things were going pretty well. I made it through homeroom and had already mapped out where my classes were, so I could head straight to my first one without getting lost. A quick stop at my locker and I’d be good to go.
I stepped into the hallway and toward my locker. There he was, the tall boy. His locker was right next to mine.
Standing in front of my locker, I reached up, grabbed the handle, and tugged. And tugged. And tugged. And tugged. I could not get the $%#*(@! locker open.
Side note: I’m a planner. I’d gone to my new school a few days before classes started to look around. I knew where the cafeteria, the bathrooms, and all of my classes were. The one thing I didn’t think about was how to open the damn locker.
With each tug the bang of the door got louder and I got more anxious. Tears were bubbling up. Then out the corner of my watery eyes, a big hand appeared at the top of the handle.
“I think you have to slide it up to open it,” he said, as he pushed on the handle and opened my locker.
I turned my head, looked up, and said, “Thanks.”
The next day, I paid attention when the roll was called and found out his name was Larry Langley.
For the remainder of our high school career, Larry and I only said the occasional “hey” to each other. We weren’t really friends, just two kids in the same class. I have no idea what ever became of him. I hope he’s had a happy life.
As each school year begins, I think of Larry and his kind gesture that I carry with me to this day. He might be the reason why I love writing nice guys.
Have a wonderful week and good luck to all the students heading back to school!
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