Fourth period English. Ninth grade. Nova high school. Redding, California.
First day of school overwhelm is in full swing and my head aches from transition to overload. This school is huge. Enormous even. My country girl brain has not yet accepted the life of the city school.
City schools suck.
First days at country schools bring laughter and hugs from all your friends that you haven't seen since May because they were all on their own farms doing fun stuff you do in summer in the country. Come September and you blast through the doors and settle in with the 25 people that are in your grade and have been in your grade since forever. You know them well. Everybody is scoping out who grew what over the summer. Nobody wants to sit next to Eugene. The only thing you have to get used to this year is the new teacher or rather, teachers, because you have shed the bonds of elementary and moved upstairs to "high school". Seventh grade. Big Time.
Country schools will forever be the best. Go Bears!
I wished to be back in my country school while I faced the reality of this big stinking prison that now held me hostage. I think there were 1000 people in this ninth grade class. This school, the brilliant brain child of a city council on drugs, was the collection of all the ninth grades in the city. Bring them all together in their 15 yr old angst and level the playing field before they separate out into their high school territories. Great. Now you didn't just have one group of snotty mean cool kids...you had three. Three groups of jocks. Three groups of nerds. Three groups of stoners.
King of the mountain just got real.
Tho I leaned heavily toward the nerd herd I really fell safely in "normal" land. Smart enough to know when to keep my head down. Cool enough to know when to keep my mouth shut. Stoners are everybody's friend. Things you need to know.
So, I'm sitting in the bowels of hell. Four hours in. The bell rang eons ago but we still have no teacher. We sit and stare uncomfortably at each other and at our hands and at the door. What do we do now? Wait...a tall person just walked by...twice.
He's a gangly almost hippie wearing birkenstocks and an untucked shirt. He has already passed by a second time when he stops and backs up. He looks into the classroom.
"Hey. Is this Mr. Wexlers class?"
Thirty 15 yr olds stare at him. Not a single one says anything.
"Wexler. English. 4th period. Is this his class?"
I guess somebody nodded their fool head or something.
"Good. Have you seen Mr. Wexler?"
Tall hippie man steps out into the hall and checks the number above the door. Then he jumps up and grabs the top door frame and swings his body back and forth into and out of the room.
"You're sure this is Mr. Wexler's class?"
He swings hard and leaps into the room, walks over to the desk and sits for a second.
"I guess you'd like to know who I am."
He stands and screetchy scrawls his name on the board.
He saved my sanity more than once that year.
Thank you Mr. Wexler. Forever, my favorite.