High school is full of incredibly amazing people who like my dress, like Nirvana, and, even better, like talking to me. If only my usual shroud of awkwardness would evaporate, this would feel like a fantasy. I’m writing this in the hallway before first period, and I’m a little worried that I will come off as a dork for journaling in a smiley-face notebook from elementary school that I absentmindedly grabbed on my way out the door this morning. I like the bright yellow cover, though, and I like having a piece of home with me.

There are so many different styles and haircuts and clothes that I can barely keep up with it all. I have never seen so much expression in a student body. I like it. I am ready to jump out of my skin with excitement, but I am also nervous.

Break time
We are all piled into the hallway again; everyone’s talking or looking around aimlessly. We have workshops for the first three days of school instead of regular classes, so the whole student body is just waiting to find out where we go next. The students here look more complex and interesting than most people from junior high. There is a kawaii girl who has a large Hello Kitty backpack and hair that never moves, a girl who looks like she stepped out of the 1920s and into this school, and people from England, France, California. People are talking about where they lived before this, and girlfriends they broke up with over the summer. No one seems to be talking about about hockey or Hollister. I cannot believe I am here.

There’s a boy who looks like he wants to be anywhere but here. He hasn’t smiled once. He rummages through his backpack, pulling up endless food packages that crinkle loudly when he opens them. He shows his teeth when he chews.

He’s caught my attention. He seems like he’s by himself. Since we’re in workshop together, I know his name and that he’s an upperclassman. I heard him talking about passion and anger consuming the world, but he sounds like he’s bored. I’m not romantically attracted to him, but I’m drawn to him, and I don’t know why. I’m confused.

This workshop was amazing—we analyzed a great Margaret Atwood poem and spent a long time writing, but for some reason, I still don’t feel satisfied here. I have people to sit with at lunch, but all of my best friends are in different schools and boroughs now, and I don’t know if I could have same kind of long-term relationships with these new people.

There are already cliques even though it’s the first day, and everyone seems to gravitate toward people of their own race. What is happening? This isn’t supposed to happen. I thought this was supposed to be a liberal school.

I want to scream at everyone.

I have a headache. The plastic edges of my new ID dig into my palm; the picture makes me look tired and sallow, as if I already knew what this day would be like when I took the photo. I started off happy, but now everything is a mess. I call my best friend and visit a close friend from a neighboring school, but when they are gone I feel a hole in my heart. It obviously wasn’t the greatest day ever. ♦