Nova never seemed to fit into her family. Her eyes were different, her hair was different, her mind was different. She always felt as if she had a different calling. When she met a new boy in her math class, she felt as if she belonged with him. When her parents dropped a huge surprise on her life, Nova is forced to say goodbye to everything she knows.


4. Adjusting

I was grumpy when I woke up. I hadn't slept at all, I kept hearing his words again and again. He said he loved me, I wish I knew if he heard me yell back. "Wake up," Mom said at 5 AM. Yep, she had gotten me up and hour early, just to get ready. Our bags had already been packed, everything just needed to be finished being loaded into the truck. I saw Mom's white and pink flowered jewelry box given by my grandmother. It wasn't actually a jewelry box, just a special box, bigger than a typical jewelry box. One time, when I was probably five years old, I tried to open it. That had been the first time Mom had ever yelled at me. I remember she had yelled, "Don't touch that!" And had pushed my hands away. Being a five year old, that just made my curiosity crave more. Eventually, Mom figured I'd never leave it alone so she put it on her closet shelf, way up high. It had sat there the last twelve years, and I was still curious about what kind of jewelry was in it. I was starting to load it into the truck, but Dad came right next to me. "I got that," He said, picking up the box and walking away. That made me even more curious. I finished loading my stuff into the truck and went and sat. I sat the entire hour until Mom loaded us in the car. We arrived at the airport at 6:15. Our flight left at 6:45. As we filed into our seats, I wouldn't even look at my parents. I couldn't believe it, still. I couldn't believe I was leaving my home country, this quickly. Mom and Dad were staring at me so I looked out the window the whole time. At one point, Dad whispered to me, "You could at least act a little grateful," What? "What are you talking about? Act grateful? Yeah Dad, I'm so grateful for you making me leave my home and my friends, and, just forget it," I replied. I saw an old woman across the aisle staring. I stared back until she looked away. Dad started again, saying, "Forget it then, I won't talk to you," "That's what I want, doesn't hurt me," I commented. A few hours later I had forgotten I was ignoring Dad. I asked, "How much longer until we land?" He could have started things off on a friendly term, but he didn't. "You're not talking to me remember?" He asked. At this point I was so mad, there was no stopping. "Dad, way to ruin the day. No, actually, way to ruin everything. Apparently you don't want me to be happy, apparently your life is more important than mine," "Oh what's that supposed to mean, Nova?" He asked me. I replied, "You don't go to school. You don't have friends that you see every day. You don't have a best friend who you talk to every chance. You don't care about me, just yourself." "Nova, that's enough. We moved to keep you safe." "What does this have to do with me?" I asked, getting louder. Dad told me to forget it and put his headphones on. I saw the old woman staring again, shaking her head. Her old wrinkles and pursed lips suddenly teased me.  I don't know what burst inside of me, but I couldn't calm down. I leaned across the aisle and faced the woman. "Excuse me Ma'am," I said, "You don't know the backstory. We're having a small argument. Don't act like we're wrong, please mind your own business or take a picture instead of shaking your head and staring at us." She looked shocked and turned to face the other way. I was grateful this time - grateful Mom and Dad had headphones on and didn't hear me yell at the woman. 

Dad walked us to a crummy, run down apartment complex. The air was warm, but not scolding. The sky was blue, but with a few puffy white clouds. There was a hint of a breeze, but not too cold. I found it hard to believe we weren't in Portugal anymore, it seemed to similar. Then it occurred to me that Dad had had this planned for more than the time he told me. How, in two weeks, would he possibly get the idea to move to California, find a small town, choose a specific apartment complex, and get moving guys out here? He knew all along, I wondered how long Mom knew and why I didn't find out sooner. When we unloaded our trucks I saw the white and pink flowered jewelry box again. I offered to carry it, but Mom stopped me. Her hands had been full of boxes, but she quickly set them all down and came running to me. "I got that," She grunted, taking the box from me. That was the second time they hadn't even let me touch it. I was starting to get curious about that box now. I looked at my hand. On my wrist, Estevo had drawn a heart with a permanent marker. Of course, we both knew it wouldn't be permanent forever, but I still loved it. I wondered if I would ever find a person I felt so comfortable being around again. If I'd ever find a person who would love me and I'd be able to confide in. I couldn't sleep that whole night. I couldn't focus, I was too mad at Mom and Dad. 

The next day, I had to start school. I barely knew any English, and I looked like such a dork carrying around a Portuguese-English Dictionary. I walked into the school just before the bell rang. At first, I wondered if it would be hard. Everyone looked so smart, and so different. As I walked into my math class, I got butterflies. I was seated next to a girl that looked pretty nice. She had brown hair and green eyes, which reminded me of my mother, and for some reason, Fatima. I smiled at the girl and she smiled back. "This class sucks, so good luck," She smiled again. I barely understood her, all I knew was that she said this class sucked and said something nice. I shook my head and smiled. When the teacher's back was turned, she talked to me again. "What school did you come from?" She asked. "Lisbon," I replied. "Portugal?" She said, "Did you move from there?" I didn't know how to reply, so I shook my head slowly. "That's cool, I've always wanted to go there," The girl said. I felt a little better about myself, and smiled. It was funny, this girl seemed as if she belonged in Portugal, and I belonged elsewhere. I remembered Mom's words coming back to me, "Just because you have blonde hair and blue eyes doesn't mean you don't belong," I smiled to myself again and started the work. It was so fast. The teacher was spitting the words out and I couldn't even write the numbers! The girl that talked to me turned to me and said, "Need help?" "Yeah," I replied. I was going to thank her and say more, but I forgot all the words due to nerves. Before I knew it, the bell was ringing and I hadn't written anything. The girl slid me her notebook and let me write down her math problems. I was grateful and said, "Obrigada." I hold to scold myself, no, the English word was "thank you." I felt stupid for saying the wrong word and started packing up. The girl had already packed up her stuff and was walking away. She turned to me, smiled, and said, "Seja bem-vindo." What? She had said, "You're welcome." Did she know my language? I looked at her again. Green eyes, brown hair. Somehow she reminded me of Mom. I was just about to ask her, but she was gone. Math had been terrible, but the girl wasn't bad. All of my classes were impossible, even my elective class, which was Spanish. I understood the Spanish language somewhat, but I always messed up the pronunciations, and I couldn't understand the English directions. I walked home slowly. Dad and Mom again asked, "What did you learn today?" I replied, "That English is hard, my classmates are smarter than me, and I suck at English." I trudged up to my room as I heard Mom sigh. I was not ready for the next day. The alarm rang too early the next day. I groaned as I climbed out of bed. Today, Mom was making me take the bus. She said she didn't want me driving to school yet, because I didn't know the irea. I was mad, I had also asked Mom to take me to the DMV to get a new license, she said maybe. As I climbed onto the smelly bus, I recognized a familiar face, the girl from yesterday. In English she said, "Hey, I didn't ask you yesterday, what's your name?" I only part I understood was when she asked my name. I replied, "Nova." She told me she liked my name. I wanted to ask her, so I thought of as many ways I could to ask. Eventually, I managed, "Your name?" She replied, "Nicole," I didn't know how to say, "I like that name," So I left it alone. "I was wondering, do you want to sit with me and my friends at lunch? I mean, my friends are loud, but do you want to sit with us anyways?" Nicole asked. I didn't understand a word she said. I shrugged my shoulders and Nicole asked, "Uh, not to be rude at all, but do you speak English?" I wasn't offended at all, and I replied, "A little bit," I remembered what I had looked up online the day before and I asked, "Do you speak Portuguese?" Nicole smiled and replied, "I knew a little bit, enough," I had a small sigh of relief. At least I found someone I could maybe talk to. After the classes had ended, Nicole found me in the cafeteria. She drug me over to her friends, which I was nervous to meet. I saw three girls, who looked younger than me, and one boy. "Hey, who's this?" I understood the boy. "This is Nova, she's from Portugal," Nicole explained. "Portugal? You look more like you'd be from France," The boy said. I just smiled but he went on and on. "Nicole, maybe. I mean she has green eyes and dark hair. But you? You're hair is blonde and you have blue eyes." "Kasey, shut up, don't be rude," Nicole scolded the boy. I couldn't help but laugh, and I sat awkwardly as they talked. I felt as if I was the awkward third wheel, or the girl who didn't belong. The painful part was, I was getting used to feeling that way. 

When I went home, I thought of Kasey's words, "You look more like you'd be from France." I wish I was, I at least felt like I had a connection whenever I looked at the Eiffel Tower online. I looked in the mirror at my face. I didn't look like Mom or Dad at all. I looked at my 5'5 frame. Dad was 5'3, and Mom was 5'2. When I had asked how I was so tall, Mom said, "Be grateful for your height!"  I wondered if I'd ever be able to travel back to Portugal, or maybe somewhere else, like France. I walked to ask Mom and Dad if I could do that one day, to give me something to look forward to. "We don't know, as for now, be happy we're here," Dad replied. I sighed and walked away. I turned back as I heard Mom sigh. I just noticed that Mom and Dad had the white and pink flowered jewelry box and papers spread out. I couldn't help but be curious about that box!

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