Starting at a new school in the middle of January is absolutely the worst situation ever in the eyes of a middle schooler. This is exactly the thought that was running through the mind of 13-year-old Rosemary Delano as she walked down the halls of West Junior High.
“I think you will really like it here, Miss Delano.” Mr. Pitts said as he led Rose through a set of double doors.
Doubtful Rose thought as she nodded at the balding man. This was the third school that she had moved to with her mom in 2 years. Mrs. Delano was a loud and outgoingwoman, the polar opposite of her daughter. As a writer for a travel magazine, she was always chasing the next “unlikely tourism spot” around the US. The latest article brought her and Rose to Ely, Minnesota.
Rose sighed inwardly as she rounded the corner of the school hallway. Along the wall there was a large painted scene that depicted many children of different shapes, sizes, and colors holding hands while looking at a beautiful pink sunset.
Wonder how long that brush technique on that sunbeam took Rose thought. The brain of an artist never rests and Rose most definitely had that type of brain. When she wasn’t packing or unpacking her room, she was painting landscapes and portraits.
The only good part about moving around a lot is that she always had a game plan when it comes to the first day of school:
Step #1: Lay low. Don’t bring attention to yourself and make sure that you blend in as smoothly as possible.
Step #2: Don’t be a teachers pet, but understand that the teachers are probably your best bet at scoping out the easiest and fastest way to pass your classes.
Step #3: (The most important one) DO not, repeat, DO NOT make friends. It hurts less when you have to leave after a few months.
“Here we are, room 140. Mrs. Gray. This is your homeroom.” Mr. Pitts said, holding the door open for Rose.
She walked in an immediately 21 pairs of eyes were on her. Rose looked down sheepishly as a lumpy old woman with kind blue eyes looked at her over her glasses.
“Ah, this must be Rosemary, welcome to our homeroom. Please find a seat wherever you like!”
Rose walked to the back of the class and pulled back a chair, making a loud noise screech against the tile floor, at the last table in the room. Class resumed as Mrs. Gray read off the morning announcements and took lunch count. The day lagged on and on and by the time lunch rolled around, Rose was sure that she had spent half of her life there.
She followed the class to the lunchroom. The soggy smell of a hot casserole wafted and grew stronger and stronger as they got closer to the large room with a few dozen round tables. She got in line, was served her share, and quickly found a seat at an empty table. She pulled out her phone and stated scrolling down her twitter feed.
“Hey there!” a mousy girl with purple glasses said as she sat next to Rose.
Oh great, the president of the welcome committee Rose thought as she looked up from her phone.
“Hi.” Rose said with a side-glance at her. Her new tablemate was wearing a teal sweater and paint-splattered jeans.
“I know this is a bit weird, but do by chance know Maria Delano?” the girl asked.
“Haha, yeah she’s my cousin. My mom’s sister’s daughter.” Rose said.
“No way! She used to babysit my brothers and me when we were young. We lived in California before moving here when I was five. Oh, my name is Thea by the way. Thea Strawn.” Thea said.
“Wow. Small world!” Rose said while putting down her phone.
“Don’t you just hate the cold weather? OH, I absolutely miss the sun and the beaches.” Thea said as she opened up he milk carton.
“Well, I actually haven’t lived in California since I was two. I’ve moved around a lot since then. But, yeah the beach was the best.” Rose said.
They continued to talk and talk until the end of lunch hour. They talked about California and all the different beaches that they had both been to. Rose shared horror stories about all of the different schools she had been to. Thea told her all about West Jr. High and told her about all of the cliques. They laughed and laughed at the girls who thought they were too cool for school and they bonded over similar hobbies.
“Wait, you helped paint that mural in the hall?” Rose asked with a grin.
“Oh yeah, the whole art club pitched in over the summer. It was a blast! We are actually planning to do another one right here in the lunchroom.” Thea exclaimed excitedly.
“Well, I hope I get to stay long enough to see it. I really love painting, maybe I could help out.” Rose suggested meekly.
“That is a great idea! I’ll ask the art teacher, Miss Brink, to put you down for the next art club meeting.” Thea said as she stood up to dump her tray.
“Alright. That sounds good.” Rose said, following Thea to the trash.
Rosemary walked to her next class smiling. Well, I may have just broken by number one rule, but I think that this time it will be different. Rose enjoyed the next few months becoming the best and closest of friends with Thea at West and even though her and her mother moved away again, she still kept in touch with Thea. Rose learned that the greatest of friendships could withstand anything, including a few thousand miles. Friendship is just like art after all, hard-work, yet so beautiful.