Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hide and Seek

Reaching for the handle of a large chartreuse green door, I extend my shortened arm. I can barely reach. My fingers graze the bottom of the knob only slightly moving it towards the right. I circle to look at my mother who is standing towards the end of the hall watching with a glossy eye. I see her half smile, reassuring that going in will be okay.

I hesitate. I am afraid of my new kindergarten class. I am unsure if they would like my ironed red Polo or my navy blue Oxford shorts; however, I think they still may like my shoes. They were new: a crisp white Nike that my parents had purchased the day before.

Was I still stalling?

I look again to see if my mother was there, but this time I have lost site of her. I begin to panic, retracting my hand from the knob. I never wanted to leave my other kindergarten class. With the cross of my arms I think, this isn’t fair.

Lifting my head up out of my arms, I noticed I wasn’t alone! I observe another child saying goodbye to his mother. From the look of it he was walking this way. I noticed his shoes – the black and white light ups from Dillard’s. I wanted those. This was my chance to create potential friend with messy brown hair and wide blue eyes. He wasn’t nervous at all.

“Hi,” I said. “Are you new, too?”

“No, I am a Jehovah’s Witness. My mom drops me off now because I don’t say the pledge of alliance,” the boy said with confidence.

A Jehovah’s Witness?

 I then knew that I was in for something completely different from my home-schooled kindergarten. I had to interact with people that were called strange things. This was all too sudden and even furthered my reluctance to step inside the classroom.

“Oh, I see. I just turned six. When’s your birthday?” I began to nervously banter.

“I don’t celebrate birthdays,” the boy replied.

How could you not celebrate birthdays?

Birthdays are the next best thing to Christmas. I am fortunate to have a summer birthday because it almost exactly half a year from my favorite holiday when the weather is cold and the church bells are dominate over the neighborhood. But for now, I was in a state of disillusionment. Why did I go to a school where people didn’t hold their heart and declare the pledge of allegiance or celebrate birthdays? But before I could reply to the boy with the white t-shirt on, he stated, “My name is Alex.”

I almost did not respond. I was afraid that he might say he doesn’t become friends with people named Mark because he’s a Jehovah’s Witness. But pushing my fears and shyness aside, I rejoined the conversation. “Mine’s Mark,” I said.

Then with a screech of the door, Alex and I turn. Standing well above us was a woman with a skinny face and glasses that desperately tried to keep grip of her nose swallowed by the bushiness of her dark brown hair. She was peaking through the narrow opening of the door and adjoining wall. Her eerie eyes grazing the hall as her boney hand firmly griped the handle. I notice her arm protruding from her oversized purple shirt much like a stick hiding in a plethora of bedding. The denim belt she had tied around her waist resembled the same shade of my favorite pair of jeans, light and almost acidic in nature.

Is that her?

I can stench her sharp perfume of rosemary or time mixed with the tang of crayon and marker. This was my teacher, Mrs. Cullinger. I was on my way to a full year with this new lady as my teacher, a lady who was not my mom, a lady who had enormous feet.

“You can come in boys,” Mrs. Cullinger said with a soft majestic tone.

I became overly nervous. She had spoken with such persuasion, that I thought she had casted a spell on Alex and I. Giving one last attempt to see if my mom was still at the end of the hall, I turn for her. She wasn’t there. I slowly move toward the frame of the door. Mrs. Cullinger had stepped away, leaving me with just a limited view of my future. I could hardly make out what was inside.

Alex entered easily.

Is he not scared?

I look down at my new shoes contrasting with the dark grey tiled flooring and then at the door, still ajar. I exhorted one huge breath. I begin to walk in a pace that was more or less snail like, making sure not to take to large of strides. I was in no rush. As I begin to travel closer to the door, I could her muffled voices and movement. I push the chartreuse green door open. The room was fairly large. Huge windows outlined the opposite wall with a tope blinds and plants and flowers just beneath each seal. The sun pushed its way through the shades and created a stripped pattern over the burgundy carpet that was cluttered with legos and blocks. 

One more step; I was inside.

[Just a memoir I am working on.]

1 comment:

Seth said...

I was a Jehovah's Witness until sixth grade, so that conversation was extremely familiar to me, only from the other side.