When I was in 5th grade, I was attending school in Chandler, Arizona. The school was called Kyrene de la Paloma, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My teacher was super nice and funny, and he even had the same birthday as me!
I was even head over heels for this dame named Renee, who lived down the block from me, and was nice enough to give me the time of day outside of class. I also had a good little group of friends that I palled around with a bunch. My best friend of the group was Sean. His mother was British, but he didn’t have any accent. She would always let us rent rated R movies from the store. Its how I first saw Evil Dead and The Road Warrior.
During that year, my family moved from Chandler to Tempe, and I hated it. I remember crying when they first told me, because I knew I wouldn’t see Renee again.
Tempe itself, and the new house, weren’t bad at all, it was the school though, that was the pits. The kids were different, the teachers were different, the school lunch smelled funny, it was dreadful to me. It was also an older school, made in the 50s or 60s, and to me, that was bad. I was just coming from a school that was only built a year ago, and all my friends and teachers I liked. Most of the hallways were indoors, so you didn’t have to go outside for classes, except PE.
This new school also had a lot more black kids, which I wasn’t used to. I remember trying to buddy up a couple of them by talking about TV shows like Good Times or That’s My Momma. They seemed to dig that about me I think.
The final straw though, was when I was in class, doing an assignment about pronouns. I had turned in my paper, feeling good about myself because we had already learned pronouns at my last school.
I got my paper back, with an F. I was shocked, to the point where I asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, why did I get an F?
The teacher gave me an F for using the context of “her” and “she” with the name Sam. I had just came from a school where the only classmate I knew named Sam was a girl. How dare this teacher not give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least acknowledge that Sam can be a girl or boys name?!?!
I plead my case, and I think any good teacher would recognize that I was using the proper pronouns, despite the sex of the person in question. But she was a hard ass, and refused to change my grade.
I came home that night, explaining this to my parents. I don’t recall what transpired after this incident, but not long after, the family was moving again, this time to Phoenix. I know I often complained and whined about the school, the teachers, and not making friends. So I must have forced their hand.
It was a big mistake really though, because ever since then, I have always felt most comfortable while in Tempe, and I always wanna live there.
I still pass by the house often, off of Hardy and University, wondering who lives there now, and how I wish I still did.