| The Road Home |

The Road Home: Chapter 2

I am her physical opposite, and I have never in my life said “Oh my gosh,” but I am 10,000 times more comfortable than I was just five minutes before

 

You know how you can be in the middle of the craziest hubbub ever but you just kind of zoom in on one thing and lose focus of everything else? Like you’re in the grocery store before Pesach and there are people pushing loaded carts all around you, and there are towering displays of matzah lurking at the end of every aisle, and all you notice is a single grape lying on the floor?

So that’s what happens when I walk into my new school. There are kids everywhere, teachers, noise… and I see a pair of sneakers. They’re not the same as mine, but they’re sneakers. Someone else is wearing un-cool shoes. I walk toward the sneakers. This is the girl I will ask for directions, I tell myself.

As I approach, I take stock. Other than the sneakers, she’s every bit my opposite: I am short and petite, with dark, frizzy hair and glasses. She is tall, like waaaay tall, and her hair is straight and blondish brown, and she’s not wearing glasses. But there’s something very familiar about her. It’s not something I can see, not something I can name, but it’s something I can sense: She’s deeply uncomfortable.

“Hi,” I say. “I’m new here—”

Before I can say my name and introduce myself, she blurts out, “Oh my gosh, me too!”

And then, because I’m still so singularly focused on my own newness, I foolishly forget to ask her where she’s from and when she came and what her name is and what grade she’s in. I just say, “Do you know where Mrs….” and then I totally blank on the teacher’s name. I look down at the crumpled, sweaty slip of paper I’ve been clutching in my hand.

She leans in and looks with me.

“Oh my gosh, I’m in the same class!” she blurts.

I am her physical opposite, and I have never in my life said “Oh my gosh,” but I am 10,000 times more comfortable than I was just five minutes before. And I think I’m on my way to making my first friend. Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin!

*****

That afternoon, I decide I’d better check out this new block we’re living on. It’s not really a block, it’s a cul-de-sac, but I want to get a better look at the houses on the street and try to see if there are any mezuzahs on any of them. Unfortunately, there aren’t.

I have never lived in a neighborhood that looked like this before, where all the houses are pretty much the same. As I walk, I take note of the small differences between them. I’m so absorbed in my observations of gray versus greige versus beige that I don’t even notice a tall girl making a beeline in my direction.

“Hi,” she calls as she approaches. “Are y’all the new people?”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 774)

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