They say a lot can happen in a summer.
It is the first day of senior year, and as far as I am concerned, I am exactly the same as I was last year.
Perhaps people never mean the summers in East Haven, because when I walk through the doors the first day after summer, everything looks the same.
The yellow brick walls are still covered in basketball photos from the last fifty years, and most importantly, the pictures of the The Yellow Jacket marching band. East Haven’s pride rests with them. It has been that way since the marching band started competing in USBand competitions (back in 1999).
Not only does the skeleton of the high school look the same, but so does the people. Especially my best friend, Jennifer.
“I am so fed up with high school boys,” she sighs as we walk down the hall. Jennifer is one of those girls that has a constant need for male attention, and once she gets it, she rarely likes it. Her appetite is a bit like her candy taste. When she craves it, oh she craves it, but after one or two pieces it somehow loses its excite and she does not want it anymore.
“It can’t be true that I will first find a boyfriend in college!” She whines.
“I am sure you will meet someone this year,” I try to make my lie sound less than a lie and more encouraging, but Jennifer does not buy it. “Yeah sure,” she mutters, “All the boys here are so…” There are about hundred of adjectives that could describe the most common boy on East Haven High, but somehow Jennifer can not think of anything.
“Dull?” I suggest.
“That or they are stoners or crazy athletes or nerds.” Jennifer has never been the most open-minded person. She has a very square view on how the boys in town are - except from those on private school. The private schooled students usually live close to Waterbury, at least that is what people say. The private schooled kids seem to be an interesting subject time after time. Somehow people always have an opinion on them. Honestly I do not care much.
“Maybe you could meet someone from Holy Cross?” Holy Cross High School is a private catholic school up in Waterbury.
“It is like an hours drive.” Jennifer complains and I want to correct her. It is a forty-five minutes drive. I do what seems smartest and agree with her. We are halfway down the hall, when Jennifer stops walking, automatically forcing me to do the same. “I’m here,” she reminds me and looks to her blue metal locker. I nod, “See you to the assembly.”
A few meters further down the hall I spot Pamela Wilson and Alan Roberts, East Haven’s most promising (and disinteresting) couple. Alan is leaning with one shoulder against my locker. They are in deep conversation about The Comet, the school magazine that no one really reads. I can understand that they are disagreeing on something, but I do not give it much thought. Everyone in East Haven, if not entire New Haven, knows that Alan Roberts and Pamela Wilson will be meeting by the aisle before they are twenty-five. That is what happens in East Haven when two teenagers have been together since they were twelve. In a small-town like this, you either make it or break it. Most people break it.
“Ahem,” I cough as I get closer to my locker. Pamela looks away from Alan. “Oh, hi Barbara,” she speaks nonchalantly. “Morning Pamela,” I greet her with a strained smile. Alan does not say anything. He looks at me, but remains silent.
“Honey,” Pamela turns to Alan. He looks tired, like he does not care. I have never seen Alan Roberts look anything but energetic and ambitious. I am not sure how you exactly look ambitious, but somehow Pamela and Alan always managed to. I study him for second. Maybe some things have changed over the summer.
“You are blocking Barbara’s locker.” Pamela says. Alan straightens up and takes a step away. “Sorry,” he mumbles disinterestedly under his breath.
I swing open my locker. It is almost empty. I always empty it for books in the days leading up to the summer holidays, but it fills up only a week after we start school again.
“So have you heard, Barbara?” Pamela asks me, as I reach down for my history book in my shoulder bag. “Heard what?” I ask, trying to sound interested.
“We are getting a new student.” Oh great Pamela. The last kid we got was a stoner, whose mom hoped that moving him away from his old school would give him a new view on what she thought was important.
I want to tell her that I with all honesty could not care less, but that would be unnecessarily rude.
“How fun,” I mumble.
“A senior.” Pamela continues. I wonder if Alan is still here.
“Where from?” I ask, as I slip the book into the dusty room.
“Holy Cross.” She says and I can tell that she tries to hide her obvious interest.
She catches my attention. I lean back a bit and look at her. Alan is still here, but his attention is turned to the phone in his hand.
“Private school?” I wonder.
“I heard he got kicked out.” Pamela’s eyes light up a little. She hates trouble, but seems to feel slightly captivated by the thought of a Holy Cross students attending East Haven High School.
“For what?” I ask. She has now triggered my interest.
“Selling drugs,” Alan suddenly says. I did not think he was listening.
“No,” Pamela protests, “I heard he got into a fight.”
“Whatever,” Alan mumbles.
I grow slightly uncomfortable. I do not know Alan much, but I know him well enough to dare say that he is acting strange.
“Anyway, Barbara-“ Pamela acts as if she did not hear her boyfriends response, but I can tell she did. She looks less excited than before. “It was nice catching up with you,” she says.
But we didn’t? I think and let it slide.
“You too, Pamela.”
“I will see you at the assembly.” She thens says, before turning her back to me and demanding Alan’s full attention. He slips his phone down in the front pocket of his jeans, looks at me and then at Pamela who sneaks an arm around his waist. He puts his arm around her shoulders, but it looks far too set. What happened to the two of them during summer?
And what is this thing about a new student? If he is really from Holy Cross, I feel like I have to tell Jennifer. She would like hearing that. I tell myself not to mention that he got kicked out - it will only make her give up all faith in teenage boys.
I close my locker and pull the strap of my bag further up on my shoulder.