Like the new shoes my mother bought me, like my stiff, new wicker basket with the green polka dot lining that held my crisp Pee Chee folders and my pink rubber erasers, I assumed that every fall might bring the resurrection I needed. Wearing my brand new dress from the Sears catalogue and my new Keds, I would walk to the bus stop hoping that maybe I would become the student I was supposed to be. I would suddenly make more sense in discussions, learn the damn new math, and not have to work at having friends. Friends would come to me. I wouldn’t have to try so hard at everything. Finally, life would be easy and calm, just like this not yet fall day.
But even as I headed down El Verano, cutting through the Guzzo’s backyard, down Las Vegas and up La Espiral to the bus stop, my socks were sliding down under my heels. By the time I got off the bus at Sleepy Hollow School, my dress was wrinkled, my cowlick in true and heightened form, and I already hated my teacher, whoever she was.
The year was going to hell in a wicker basket and there was nothing I could do about it.
By December, I was sent to the principal’s office or the counselor’s, everyone asking me what was wrong about something. I would go to the special tutor sessions or the class in the morning for “under achieving over-achievers,” a lovely euphemism for kids who were just not doing well at anything despite some score or another that suggested they might.
And by the end of May, there was always the question that I might not make it to the next grade, needing just a little more time to ripen on the vine, but at the end of it all, they bumped me forward with my satisfactory and average and below average scores, and I would swim all summer trying to forget the entire year, the pool the place where it all seemed to disappear.
But that hope that first day. I would look out at the front yard as I stood on the porch, breathe in the September air that smelled of leaves and dirt and cut grass. I imagined pumpkins and then jack-o-lanterns, the pile of candy at the end of the night. Robins flew around the pyracantha trees, the berries turning red and ready. The sunlight seemed to be yellow and orange, everything almost pure potential, just like me in my Sears dress and pristine Keds, hoping for everything.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org