When I was 12, my family moved from Utah to Florida. (But don't think I'm from Utah -- because I lived in Florida until I was 6. Not that there's anything wrong with being from Utah, I just feel like being a Florida girl is a big part of my charm.) Up until the move back to Florida, I had attended fancy private schools where uniforms were worn and classes only had like 17 kids in them.
My first year in public school was 8th grade. It was the first year I could wear whatever I wanted to school. It was also the first year I had the opportunity to take the bus.
My mom was perfectly willing and able to drive me to my middle school each morning -- when she took my little brother to school, she actually drove past me as I waited at the bus stop -- but I wanted to have the bus experience. I had always seen it in movies and Disney channel shows so I was down to experience the nitty gritty.
My first day of middle school I was excited to choose my outfit. I chose vinyl camouflage pants that zipped off at the knee (to become vinyl camo shorts, naturally). I just googled these to see if there was a picture I could show you, but it turns out I was lucky enough to own one of the only pairs to have ever existed.
I walked to the end of my road to await my big yellow chariot (bus 637) and see what kind of characters I would meet. Maybe now is a good time to tell you that I only rode the bus for like a month. Here's what I remember:
There was a girl with red hair named Megan that was in the 7th grade (though older than me, I think). She had a 2-year-old daughter. She brought pictures of her baby and told us about her sexual exploits when we played Never-Have-I-Ever.
There was a blond girl named Cassie. I think after a few weeks she and Megan discovered that they were cousins or something.
There was a large handful of Jewish kids as well. They were intimidating, attractive and very tight with one another. Most of the kids at my bus stop were Jewish. This made Yom Kippur a cold, lonely morning at the end of my street.
Our bus driver's name was Ms. Rhodes (my brother affectionately called her Ms. Bus). She was cranky and gave us assigned seats because we were misbehaving. I tried buckling my seat belt once, but was verbally abused enough to never do it again.
I think I decided to stop riding the bus around the time that Megan invited me to her birthday party. She told me to bring a cross because her house was haunted by her grandmother. But her baby would be there and I would get to see her. I brought this up to my mother (cross and all...) and she frowned saying it was probably not a good idea for me to go.
Shortly after that, the kids on my bus figured out a way to make each other black out (by crossing your arms on your chest, holding your breath, and having someone push really hard on your arms...). It was on the news and stuff.
So I stopped riding the bus. I had my mom give me a ride to school for the rest of the year.
Middle school itself was a huge challenge. Coming from an experimental private school in Utah, I didn't know what "1st Period" meant. I didn't have one teacher leading me around -- I had to navigate my own class schedule. I had also never been exposed a locker and never had to work a combination lock. Big props to Jamie Talpalar for opening my locker for me daily and helping me understand what a locker was for... "omg! you mean I can leave my books here overnight??"
It was a party. I eventually got the hang of it and made some friends. I'd love to say I started dressing better, but I just don't know if I did. As a matter of fact, I just remembered that my camo pants had an elastic wasteband.