It is 29th of June, exactly one week since the first full day when summer vacations began. I lay on Ashlyn’s soft bed. Bright sun shines through the glass windows and form parallelograms of light on the light brown carpet. The sky is a pale blue color at the moment, but I like it. At night it’s the color of a deep blue sapphire. During sunset, I look away from the shades of red and orange, yellow, pink and purple mixing together on the west side of our house. Then, I choose to look at the sky from my room on the east side. The brilliant shade of sapphire blue seems to glow with the golden light coming from the other side. I am in the depths of wonder, thinking about the future. I am almost reimagining my life, if you want to put it that way.
Ashlyn lies right next to me on her bed. We stay in this position for some time. I think we have opened the dictionary of emotions within our souls. At least I think I have. I feel uncertainty and anxiety, rage and sorrow. My emotions fight with each other in my mind. Uncertainty begins saying that this might be a friendly prank that Ashlyn is playing on me. “Very true,” I think. Rage argues that she wouldn’t put a joke on a topic like this. Sorrow seeps in thinking of life without Ashlyn after she moves from here. Anxiety mentions the worst topic of them all: facing middle school, alone.
I look to my right, towards Ashlyn. She is looking up at the white ceiling, not frowning but not smiling either. Her lips make a pink horizontal line on her pale face. I can’t help but think about what I will do once Ashlyn moves into a two storied house somewhere far from where I live. Ever since we met at a Safety Patrol training unit in 4th grade, we stuck together like two peas in a pod. I am actually so used to her being around that once she is gone, I would be missing something in life; can’t comprehend exactly what!
“So……,” Ashlyn asks sitting up, as I too sit up just like her, “What do you think middle school will be like? Like teachers and all that stuff?”
“Oh, come on Ash!” I react, calling her by the nickname I gave her once. “Is that all you’re gonna talk about? Besides, we have only two more months of freedom. Enjoy it. Duh.”
“Yes, yes, I understand, but do you not wish to share our knowledge about the very topic that I have concerns for?”
So is this how she going to play it? By talking in a civilized, old fashioned voice?
“Alright then, shall we begin the exchanging of knowledge through our speech? Would you care to go first then, since you had brought up the very topic yourself? Go ahead child, don’t be shy.”
Our cheeks grow red and puffed, trying to conceal the laughter within us. But then we could hold it in no longer and fall on to the bed, laughing out loud. Ashlyn’s cheeks grow from pale to somewhat of a medium pink. We finally end our laughs with breaths of air. I don’t know about Ashlyn, but my chest seems to recover from the hurt while I enjoy my laughs. Then we gradually descend into our normal disposition. Sometimes, sounding civilized is fun.
“I seriously don’t want to move, especially when I’ve lived here for the past 7, uh… I mean 8 years of my life. I’ve got so many friends here, even you, which is a big bummer. Why are you even staying here for the entire afternoon anyways?”
Of course. I had completely forgotten to tell her why I came in the first place. Once she pulled me into her room, my mind completely forgot. “Oh, yeah uh…, yeah, my mom is at work for an important project so… you get the idea. You’re still getting used to being 11 years, aren’t you?”
“Yeah…,” Ashlyn replies. “And that makes sense, I guess. Is it only today or what?”
“Um no…, actually it’s really only today and day after tomorrow. As far as I know, she told me it is just two meetings on those two days that are about seven hours long each. They’re supposed to be discussions for the planning, construction, and I think layouts and blueprints. It’s supposed to be about a new recycling plant.”
“That seems interesting.”
“I guess……… if you say so. I think it supposed to be in New York or somewhere.”
“Want to play Monopoly Empire?”
“Of course I will!” I exclaim with anticipation. “I bet I’ll beat you so bad you’ll lose, be bankrupt, and still owe me money.”
“We’ll see about that! The loser will pay the winner, say ten bucks.” Ashlyn playfully threatens.
That game of Monopoly Empire is genuinely the best board game I ever played. I get a few brands that I am glad Ashlyn hadn’t taken them. But Ashlyn has taken two brands that I had wanted: Coca Cola and Paramount. I end up winning the game. We are both 200 “thousand dollars worth of brands” below the end point. I suddenly see that neither Ashlyn nor I have taken the My Little Pony brand from the board. So, I quickly buy it. Ashlyn looks shocked and competitively angry. She wanted to win this game, so she could prove there was nothing I could do that she couldn’t. But unfortunately for her, I have won the game.
“Come on, I was so close to winning!” Ashlyn says as she hands me a ten dollar from a yellow safe that she had gotten at our elementary school’s Holiday Boutique. Once she hands me the dollar, Alexander Hamilton stares at me as I stare back at him.
“No worries. You might win next time we play that game. It was a close one for me anyway,” I say.
“Sometimes, you really can get perky,” Ashlyn replies.
She always calls me perky. I still don’t know why she does. I have waited, expecting her to explain to me why she thinks I am so vivacious. But alas, that has not occurred. The sun wraps its warm fingers around us as we spend the entire day having fun. We show each other really cool websites and hilarious videos. I show Ashlyn a series of cool tricks you could do with paper and fire. She loves a specific one of the tricks, the Black Snake. She says she might try and scare her younger brother with it. Her brother is pretty young, about five years old.
The day eventually proceeds into evening, and I leave for home. I have stayed at her house for as long as I could. I want to make every moment I have with her, count. Eventually, I end up staying for eight hours. I wave goodbye. One day after, I come back. The week continues as expected. I still attend my art and piano classes as usual, cool off by taking swimming classes, learn martial arts as a part of my exercise. I pretty much have the same routine every day. Summer continues as I play in the lush grass and push my bike’s pedals.
I am genuinely upset when I meet Ashlyn for the last goodbye’s, a day before she would move to the north of New Jersey.
I feel forlorn as I spend the rest of the summer without many friends. I visit family friends once in awhile. Towards the end of summer, there are those same old back-to-school sales at Target and Wal-Mart. On 25th of August, we eat chocolate ice cream cake for my brother’s birthday. He decides to go to the Science Liberty Museum, and we follow suit. And then September 2, it was time for the first day of middle school.
I get out of my mom’s car and stare at the huge building. It has two floors and a T-shaped roof connected to top of the entrance with long poles that supports it. I wave goodbye to my mother and stare at the slate gray doors for a while. “This is it,” I tell myself. “Breathe deep, stay calm, don’t be late or miss anything, and especially, make that good impression everyone likes. Then everything will be fine.” I take a deep breath, and then make my way through the doors, almost lost in a large crowd.
Once inside the building, it feels like a whole new world. I see a corridors stretching towards where I am looking. I quickly peek into my binder that has my schedule printed on its back. Room 32, it says. That’s where homeroom is. As I look for the room, I find endless rows of brown and yellow and blue lockers. The walls behind are made of bricks that are painted white. I thought middle school was going to start as a major ordeal, but this looks like the modest beginning of a new chapter in the book of my life.
I finally find the room in another hallway. This hallway has more lockers than as far as my eyes can see. This must mean a lot of lockers, not to mention that there is a second floor to it. Who knows how many lockers are there in this building?
I step into the room. There aren’t any assigned seats or name tags or anything, so I believe we are supposed to choose our seats. I was am not sure though, so I ask the teacher. There is a nice looking teacher at her desk, sitting patiently and her head facing forward. On her desk the name tag says, “Ms. LaGrange”. I walk up to the brown wood desk and ask, “Are we allowed to choose our seats?”
She nods. “Yes, your choices will be permanent for the rest of the school year.
There are only five of us in the room. Three girls are chatting about some kind of phone I guess they want, one student is sitting in the back with a thick book, and then me. I decide to sit in the front row near the door so I can leave quickly as soon as the class is dismissed. I learned this trick from a middle school guide book, which my fourth grade teacher had kept in her small back. It was an American Girl book, titled “A Smart Girl’s Guide To: Middle School”. I found it lying on the middle shelf along with the other books. I read it every day since then whenever we had an indoor recess.
I pull out the book I brought with me. It is Catching Fire, the third book in The Hunger Games series. So far, it has been a good book. The first book was genuinely the best in the series. I manage to read about seven pages, before eleven year old students start pouring into the room. They keep coming until every seat in the room is occupied. Then, homeroom begins. I think I might have come really early.
There are announcements on tasks meant be repeated every morning. Instructions and advises are generally about being back to school. The principal, Mrs. Alexander, welcomes us to the fresh start of a new year. She especially greets all the sixth graders and asks everyone to clap for us for coming to this new school. Soon follows a thunderous sound of clapping, outside and inside our room. The sound finally ends after a good 20 seconds.
Homeroom ends, and then comes science; after that, language arts, and finally lunch period. I am fairly happy because I have probably made pretty good first impressions. Now I am hungry. I walk really fast so I can grab a spot at a lunch table. It’s not like there is enough seats for all the kids that come here during lunch period. I happily manage to secure a seat at a table that felt like the picnic benches at my elementary school. I wonder as I bite into my chicken patty sandwich, how different middle school would be had Ashlyn been here. If she hadn’t moved, we would be chatting of all sorts of topics. I would probably be teasing her about how I beat her in Monopoly Empire over the summer. If I did, I would see a big, upside down U on her face.
A girl slides into a seat next to me. She is about the same size as I was am, with long wavy black hair as black as a raven’s coat, that goes up till halfway down her back. ; She has brown eyes and her skin color is like a combination of tan and pale. She wears a yellow shirt and purple pants. “Neat combination… her apparel’s colors and the complimentary colors look good on her,” I tell myself. My shirt is an aqua hue and my pants are green. I should have thought of wearing complimentary colors too.
“So…,” the girl begins a conversation. “How’s life?”
“Good, I guess. You?” I ask back.
The girl’s lips curve into a smile. “Same. My name is Aisha.”
“I am Arushi,” I say. “How’s middle school so far for you?”
“So far it sounds great!” Aisha looks enthusiastic.
I usually have a disposition that includes happiness, vivacity, and optimism. But today, I am feeling a bit glum because Ashlyn isn’t with me.
“What’s wrong?” Aisha asks.
“Oh nothing……… it’s just that my best friend isn’t here,” I explain.
“No worries! I have friends that I don’t know where they are. We could be friends. That is…… if you want to.” Aisha offers.
“Sure!” I say happily for the first time since our conversation began. “How do you go home? I walk through the woods to the elementary school on the other side because I have a younger brother there.”
“So do I!” Aisha says. “Except… my sibling is a girl.”
Lunch hour ends and then the first day of school ends as well. I meet up with Aisha at the entrance of the woods and we chat up as we walk across the thin stream of water that runs to the side of some large pipes. There are branches above the stream for us to walk on. We approach the field and set out to find our parents. We introduce each other to our moms who have been waiting for us.
Finally I feel within my heart, the confidence that I’ll survive middle school.
This day I learn a good lesson about friendships. Not all friendships last, some just come and go. Life will continue without some old friends, because time never stops and never will. But to each new person we meet or leave behind, we can leave a mark, and that mark resides in the heart forever.