Walk the Land Chapter 3
Just the Two of Us
I lived in Miami my entire life, and while I was thriving and looking forward to graduating from the sixth grade, my dad got a job promotion. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for my dad, it was just that this promotion was going to move us across the United States to California. And I certainly didn’t want to go to California.
I didn’t know anything about California except that it was far. I had never really been out of my safe space in Miami. In my neighborhood, there was such a wonderful underpinning of diversity and culture and I didn’t know anything different. I saw the world that way. That everyone lived in neighborhoods filled with different races and ethnicities. As a ten-year-old, my worldview was myopic. But I’m glad it was. I would later learn that I would need that foundation to sustain me in my life.
So, in the middle of a perfectly good life, a stable life, we moved cross country to Sacramento. I left my friends behind, my world behind. But what my heart was aching most about was leaving my grandmother behind, my nanny. She was my glue, my best friend, the one I came running to with questions and musings. The one I came to when I needed love.
The plane ride was torturous. I watched Miami fade away in the early morning sky from my plane window. My little sister who was four years younger than me was too small to understand. To her, she was going on a great adventure. To me, my life was ending.
Mom wasn’t happy either. As a Miami native, she was struggling too. As I looked out of the window of the plane, I remember seeing the land graphs getting smaller and smaller. I would not be graduating from the 6th grade with my friends who had been in my life since kindergarten. I would not be able to see nanny every day. I would not be able to get a kosher hot dog or chocolate egg cream from The Coney Island Restaurant or the famous dill pickles at Corky’s Delicatessen. All the things that were part of me were slowly fading away. Who would I be now? I clung tightly to the Jewish star that was dangling around my neck.
When we got to Sacramento, dad had already enrolled us at the local elementary school where we were renting a home. I was petrified. The new girl in a 6th-grade class and the school year had already started, fabulous. Being an extrovert and an always popular voice at my old elementary school, I vowed to make friends fast, I always had. I didn’t think this would be any different.
Day one and the vibes were already off. Mrs. D, our teacher, did not seem so keen on me being there. It didn’t make sense to me since I had just gotten there and hadn’t said a word. So, I kept my mouth shut and sat in the back and just listened.
In my elementary school back home, we didn’t have a formal recess, so I found it refreshing to see that here in California we did. When the bell rang at ten, I looked over at the girl next to me and asked her what that was for.
“Playground!”, she shouted
So as the kids in my class ran out, I followed behind, straight to a neat-looking pole with a string and a ball attached to it. It looked so intriguing! I took my place in line to watch how the game was played and asked the kid in front of me what it was. He looked at me like I was an alien.
“It’s tetherball. You’ve never seen a tetherball?” he said
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