…My parents told me some familiar news toward the end of my amazing fourth grade year. That the landlord of the house was not selling the house, but kicking us out. Why? Because she doesn’t like kids. That was at least what I remember being told by my parents later. I wasn’t really devastated as we had moved before a year earlier and I just assumed we would still be in my hometown. I never really thought much of it. A few days later though, after a few visits to very unsuitable houses/apartments in our town being sold, we had no choice but to do the unthinkable. Move to a new town, a neighboring town but still a new one. Which meant I would have to begin 5th grade in a new school and get used to no longer being at a school with my current friends from now on. June of 1998 was the final month of my fourth grade year. The news came out about me moving away. What ended up happening was one of the nicest gestures any group of people have ever done for me. The entire class and the teachers I had throughout the year compiled a memory scrapbook of all the highlights of my final and best year. My best friends even went the extra mile with their individual contributions dedicated to me. One person even wrote a song about how great a friend I was (to the tune of the Brady Bunch theme haha). And every single student wrote a personal letter in the scrapbook about how great the memories knowing me were and how much I will be missed. It was a very emotional final month.
Just like my previous birthday, right after school ended for the summer, my and my closest friends once again celebrated my 10th birthday at the same bowling alley/skating rink/arcade. Definitely my favorite birthday celebration I ever had. And this for sure tops the ones I spent with my ex girlfriend in the years we were together…but I digress.
A couple days after my birthday, me and my parents got ready to pack everything and move out. This new house in this new town had somewhat of a very different atmosphere. Just everything about it. The look of it inside and outside. The street. The backyard and the driveway. Something was just very different. I look back now and I realize why I felt this way. It was too good. But not in an appealing way for me. It’s kind of like when Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream and went on a very fancy and expensive tour, and their lead singer Eddie Vedder was very uncomfortable with the “too comfortable” and fancy lifestyle and it gave him crazy anxiety and stress. That’s how I felt about this new house and the new town it was in. I hated it.
Fast forward to the beginning of the fall, which would introduce me to this new middle school I would be going to for what we thought would be the next 4 years (in this town, 5th grade is the start of middle school instead of being the end of elementary school, which would have not been the case had I stayed in my same school). It was huge. It reflected the same fancy, preppy, clean-cut environment I had started to tolerate at least at home. But this was crazy. The minute I walked in the door, I could tell I wasn’t going to fit in and I already missed my friends like crazy.
What made matters worse was that the teachers could sense something was very off with me compared to the other students. I was diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism when I was 7 (something I was too young to even be aware of still). So everyone in the school that was an authority figure were secretly “keeping an eye on me”. I made no friends. It was a lot harder to make friends in a school where every student also reflects the same lifestyle you’re not used to, especially when you’re still a kid and have no life experience outside of the environment you lived in previously so far. As the weeks went by, I began getting somewhat of a town/school version of homesick. And the teachers started to notice and did not like this. There was a science class I remember where I was so out of it that I was so intimidated with the ways we were learning certain things, that I could not for the life of me concentrate or make sense out of anything. All that was on my mind at this point were things on TV. I would shut off any drama I was in once I got home and watched The Simpsons non-stop and taped my favorite movies I loved but never owned from TV when they were on. I would also start an obsession with making my own mixtapes by taping certain songs playing on various radio stations and listen to them whenever riding in the car with my dad. But the thing that was missing was I was only socializing with other kids when my old friends would come over to my house, which was very rarely. And it wasn’t the same when they came. I was getting so isolated that I would end up getting in stupid fights with my friends for no reason. I would act up over things like computer games and them having something cool that I didn’t. I was slowly becoming someone that I look back and realize is not the real me. But the worst part of this was, it would begin to show itself toward the late fall at this middle school and nobody there understood it nor wanted to.
Then one morning, a day or two after Christmas, my parents woke up and my mother said something that I will always love her for. She insisted that they get me out of that school and finish 5th grade at my old school. And of course graduate and move on to the middle school in the town I always belonged in. Once my parents found another apartment house available in the old town, we jumped on it immediately. In January 1999, I was back. The news hit home very quickly with everyone in the 5th grade class I would be in. So many of the students in that class were the same ones in my 4th grade class, which was amazing.
So everything must have been all good right? Nothing could possibly get even worse right? I would not be changing schools again right? And no violent tragedies 2,000 miles away would take place in a few months right? RIGHT??….(to be cont’d)