It was cold for the tropics. My body shivered as I rose out of bed. Damn, that alarm clock was loud. Turning if off, I passed by the looking glass. The boy that saw me seemed a bit nervous and messy. His black hair had gone awry, his brown eyes beckoned for more sleep, and the bed sheet trauma on his face looked like the canals on Mars. Luckily neither one of us felt like talking. As I strode by the window; the January sun began to indulge me. Suddenly I felt a bit warmer. Still a bit groggy, crawling back into bed seemed like a good idea.
Suddenly the door opened.
"O-hi-o. You'd better start moving or you'll be late", said my mom in Japanese. "The bus will be here in 20 minutes."
20 minutes, I said to myself. That seemed like a lot of time. Then I realized what I had to do. Wash up, get dressed, and eat. My stomach spoke; breakfast began to consume my mind. The scent of fresh eggs and warm toast suddenly filled my senses. It smelled great and my mouth began to water. Food seemed like a great idea, and then my brain reminded me that today was different.
"Oh crap!” I said and bolted for the shower.
It was cold on the side walk. We waited there, my brother and me. The neighborhood was an interesting place. Concrete houses lined the street and several small trees dotted the urban landscape. Sewer canals joined us on the street and the scent of fresh rain was the other companion. If it wasn't for the cleanliness, I would have thought we were in a shanty town. Everything seemed a bit grey and green. Even the sun was a bit moody as clouds gathered above. We had recently moved to Su-na-be, just outside Gate One of Kadena Air Force Base. A few weeks ago we left our temporary quarters and began living in a concrete box that I would call my home.
I thought to myself,”I wonder what high school would be like."
My brother stood there quietly and reserved. Nothing in the world seemed to bother him that day. I was wondering what he was thinking. Could he be nervous like me?
Then he spoke. "Try to have some fun today. Let's meet up for lunch."
The school bus was noisy; boys and girls alike were talking and yelling, basically doing everything to disturb my peace. I sat there quietly with my brother. As I stared out the window, the land looked foreign to me. But still, it felt familiar. Something in deep within my soul told me to be at ease. The land was in my blood; my mother was an Okinawan. This was her homeland and I felt it as well. Suddenly, the concrete jungle disappeared and a lush green landscape overwhelmed our bus. We left su-na-be and had entered gate one of the base. I could see the guard waving us along as we passed the gate and headed up the long grey road that would lead us to our destination.
As we approached the other buses, I could see the silhouette of the grey buildings in the distance. Hundreds of students filled the landscape. Books, backpacks, and a rainbow of colors shuffled along the school's shore. Suddenly the clouds broke. The gleaming white building began to shine. It was beautiful, I thought. Quite unlike the old high school I attended back in the southern California desert. That school was dingy and worn down. Kadena on the other hand, looked like a white palace in a lush green valley. It was the first day of the second semester, 1985 and I was eager to find out more about this place.
A handful of us sat in the library. This is where the new students congregated to pick up their class schedules. Everyone waited idly for their turn. As we waited, a few of us introduced ourselves and began to talk about where we just came from, a few from Europe, some from mainland Japan, a couple from state side, but none from the high desert.
Suddenly a brash voice broke our conversation.
"Hello, Adonis is here, what are your names?” said the voice.
He was taller than me and my brother and from the reaction of the girls around him, somewhat handsome. It was easy to see that he wasn't talking to the guys. Filled with bravado he joined our conversation. Without hesitation he began recite the story of his life.
Feeling a bit bored from the self centered banter, I decided to get up and move to a solitary couch a few feet away.
As I sat and waited a shadow suddenly appeared. I turned to investigate and I discovered a curly, blond haired, and blue eyed girl. She carried a thin build and was about the same height as me.
"Hi, I'm Margaret. I heard that you are Okinawan. Is that true?” she said.
"Yes", I replied.
I did mention that I was partly Okinawan a bit earlier, but I don't remember her being there.
Margaret smiled and suddenly asked me. "I heard Okinawan’s are hairy. Is that true?"
"What the heck was that?” I thought. How can I answer that question? My body was a bit late maturing so my manly hairs have yet to arrive.
Feeling on the spot and completely embarrassed. The best I could muster was, "Got me."
I could see the disappointment in her face and as she readied to place me into a more embarrassing position, luckily a voice broke my despair.
"Mike, could you please follow me to the counseling office" said one of the counselors.
Yo-ka-tta! I was saved.
I rendered my salutations to Margaret and walked off to the counseling office.
As I stepped, I thought to myself, what a strange thing to ask. What a strange girl and I hope I’ll never see her again.
As fate would have it, I would see Margaret in the majority of my classes for the rest of year. Every time I'd see her, I always felt slightly embarrassed, since I never did answer her question. Nothing quite like being a freshman at a new school and constantly walking on egg shells around a girl; to top it off I was never really interested in her.