An Extraordinary Situation By Juan S. de la Serna

Some say that there’s nothing worse in life than being ordinary, that it’s horrible to be just another among the crowd. But what can a single kid in a new school, a new town, a new country, be? Anything but ordinary. Just standing there, in the middle of a schoolyard, without knowing how to speak the same language as the rest is enough to separate him, and to truly make him a foreigner. He can see the rest play about, and is in denial of the very instinct telling him to run with these children, to try and get to know them, to understand what society it is he will be living in for the next couple of years. While this is not the first time he has felt like this, it certainly takes much longer than usual for the feeling to go away, it remains there for quite a few months even. Judging the circumstance from a first impression, it seems to him, that the United States is a very hostile and selective country when it comes to accepting others.

Being so quiet in those months while trying to adapt also makes him analyze everything around him. Most people there have a different sense of humor, they are much more preoccupied of keeping their garden spotless clean, and are accustomed to eating fast food, not having a home cooked dinner with the rest of the family, while talking about one’s feelings, as he was used to in Mexico. He can even see the difference of how mothers treat their children in one place and the other. Maybe it’s still because of the first impression he received, but everything in the States just seems plastic and pre-made, from people to even houses. Finally after those moments of solitude he finds another with the same problems as his, and it is then that a part of the barrier, which stood all around him, starts to slowly fade away. While his English is not quite good yet, he can now understand what the rest of the children are saying, and finds in most of them a new friend. At school he is no longer a foreigner, yet he is still a strange one there, and to the rest of the city.

One day while sitting on the porch, he watches as a new family moves in front of the house in which he has now lived for almost a year. He quickly notices that the family moving in has a girl about his age, very pretty; with long blond hair, beautiful blue eyes and with skin that would opaque the color of snow. What surprises him more is that a few minutes after these peoples’ arrival most of the neighbors come to greet them for the simple reason of doing so. The same neighbors that in all this time have limited themselves in talking to him or his family. The feeling of strangeness hits him once again. Nevertheless he too joins his neighbors greeting, maybe just so he can see their reaction.

Time keeps ticking by and with each day he notices different things about this country. How the summers are truly long and beautiful, especially at night, when he can see the millions of stars shinning bright in the sky. He likes the fact that the streets in which he lives in are so peaceful, allowing him to walk about without a parent’s concern behind him. To take his fishing pole to the lake nearby, and to come back home with nothing but soaked clothes and scraped knees. Of course this is only here near his house, further away towards the city center, lies another story. New Orleans Downtown is one of the country’s most dangerous places, places that unfortunately do not share his blocks’ peacefulness. All in all, he thinks maybe this represents a balance, which actually allows two places that seem totally foreign to each other to coexist.

Just as quickly as he got to the United States, he is now back at home. One might think that it must be a great relief to be among his own once again. But he actually misses what has been left behind. One way or another, it is time to be the new kid at a different school once again. Completely confident that the experience will be easier now, he once again stands in the middle of a schoolyard, and watches children play. As he expected, he is quickly greeted by his soon to be companions and starts to play. In all his happiness he suddenly stops, staring directly in front of him, and begins to see thing anew. There, in the center of the schoolyard stands a girl, blond hair and blue eyes, and in those eyes he can clearly see the exact same feeling he had all that time ago in the U.S. This girl must have the very same opinion he once had of the States. As he walks towards her, he understands that he was never different, he has always been as ordinary as any human should be. Or at least that’s what I’ve learnt through experience so far.