I am 794 miles away from home but somehow it all feels so familiar, the lockers, the overwhelming smell of vanilla and Abercrombie, the confusing layout, the kids rushing to class, the couple in the corner making out. I walk the halls and breathe a sigh of remembrance. The bell brings me back to the here and now and I have no idea where room 2070 is. Finally I stumble into the classroom and twenty sets of eyes look at me. I few of them look confused; I am obviously not their teacher. I tell them that today I am their substitute. A few more confused looks and then one brave girl in the back asks,
“how old are you”
“23” I say looking down at my instructions, they have a test today.
“you look like your eighteen” one of the pretty girls in the front says. I glance up and see the familiar faces. It might have been six years since I was in high school but not much has changed, there is still the loner in the back wearing all black trying to blend in with darkness, the oversized scary boy who wants me to know I don’t have authority, the peppy cheerleader that smiles even when nothing is happening, the angry girl who probably dates scary boy in row three, the athletes who swish their hair to the side trying desperately not to care and the rest, the average kids that get lost in between categories. I know they won’t take their test until I go through the normal ritual of questions so I let them ask. No I didn’t go to school here and yes I am old enough to teach. Yes I am super tall and no you may not stand next to me to see if you are taller. No I didn’t play basketball and yes I am married. At this point I can normally get them on task when the brave girl in the back says something I don’t expect.
“Tell us your life story”
I look up; twenty sets of eyes look back. Only forty five minutes left in class I wish I could tell them my life story.
I would tell the popular girls to be nice to because later in life they will realize they aren’t all that and a bag of chips. I would tell the pretty girls that looks aren’t all they have. I would tell the kids in black that this is just a phase and the real world isn’t quite so harsh. I would tell the tough girls that getting hurt is part of the process. I would tell the pretty boy with the hair swish that there will be a million of him wherever he goes next and the only thing that makes you stand out is your character. I would tell the girls trying desperately to fit in that one day it won’t be so hard. I would tell the in-betweeners that one day they will have their place in this world. Mostly I would tell them their is a Jesus who loves them and can bring relief. There are so many things I would like to tell this class but for now they have to take a test.