“Mom! I have never seen so much snow in my life!” I shared my excitement as I went to pick up the fragile snow that stretched across the front yard like a blanket.
From behind the house, my stepdad’s voice echoed, “Come back here, you’ll love this.” He pointed to a murky lake, half frozen in the wintery weather.
“In the summer, we’ll be able to fish out here,” he said, eager to get me excited about my new home. In second grade, I had to move to Lynchburg, Virginia because of my mother's job. As a seven year old, I didn’t think much of it. My mom was always good at making change seem like a positive thing. I thought, “This just means a new house and a new school. Nothing will be different, right?”
Inside the house, there were brown, cardboard boxes stacked tall in different corners of the empty rooms. Unfamiliar people walked in and out of our house, helping us with the move. I introduced myself to a young couple that my mom told me I would be seeing regularly They were renting a room inside our house and worked with my parents.
“Michelle, we want to meet our kids. This is Jenna and Andrew,” they said as they pointed to two kids who appeared to be around my age. The girl had long, jet-black hair and a perplexed expression upon her heart-shaped face as if she was curious of who I was. She had an olive skin color and was a couple inches taller than the adolescent boy standing beside her. They almost looked completely alike, yet somehow different. The younger boy, stiff in posture, avoided my eye contact every time I look over to him.
“You’re going to be sharing a room with Jenna.” – a minor detail my mom had completely failed to mention to me. Taken off guard by that comment as well as the kids’ uninviting body language, I panicked. Various emotions and questions raced through my head. Were they going to be my new friends? What are they like? A mixture of uneasiness and excitement cast over me as tension built between the two strangers and me.
“Well, you’ve had a long day on the road. Get some rest soon,” my mom suggested to me, interrupting my frenzied thoughts. Taking her advice, I trampled across the unlighted hallways, away from the overcrowded living room, to get ready for bed.
As I creaked open the door to my bedroom, I saw a bunk bed in the far corner of the tidy room. I assumed Jenna had been sound asleep since I did not hear from her for the rest of the night. I lay on the bottom bunk for a while staring into the empty space and before I realized it, I had fallen asleep.
Every morning and every day was the same routine: everyone in the house was silent upon waking and exhausted after working. The initial excitement of this new place was soon replaced with disappointment. Jenna and Andrew only spoke to me when they needed to, and it often worked the same way with me. One time, they even “accidentally” locked me out of the house. Other times, Andrew would try to get me to do his homework; the amount of times he managed to successfully convince me is still disturbing. My mother would try to include herself in my life even though she worked seven days a week, nine hours each day; I could see her worries and flashed a smile to keep her happy. For a while, my only friend was a little orange hamster named Eddie.
Soon winter break was over, and it was time for me to begin classes at my new school. On the way to my first day of school, I reminded myself that everything was going to be fine, and that I was going to make new friends. Nervousness overwhelmed me as the assistant principal led me to my classroom. Inside were twenty pairs of curious eyes. Quickly, I tried to avert their attention by finding my seat and fading into the crowd.. Fortunately, the class was learning about metamorphosis by taking care of caterpillars. Because I was so quiet (there was no point in making friends, I reasoned, since we’d just move again soon anyway) I was developing a reputation as the “weird, new girl.” I soon found myself too captivated by the small, beguiling creatures to mind what others thought of me.
me staring at the caterpillars one day, someone came up behind me.
"Hi, I'm Taylor. What's your name?" she asked.
"Michelle. Hi, Taylor,” I gazed in confusion as I replied to the stranger with strawberry blonde, curly hair and a bright but sweet, freckled face.
“Aren’t they cool? My mom told me that when I wake up one day, they won’t be caterpillars anymore. They will be butterflies,” she remarked. That was the first time Taylor Brunson ever spoke to me. It was the first time anyone at school tried to talk to me. It surprised me how inseparable we became. My teacher began to take note of my sudden gregariousness and realized that my personality had undergone a dramatic shift.
I found myself acclimating to school, and it became a remedy to my solitude. Ironically enough, I wanted to be at school more than I wanted to be at home. I didn’t like being dismissed from class at the end of the day, and I dreaded the weekends even more. This home away from home taught me to value friendships; not the kind I had with my hamster. I even convinced my mom to let me audition for the school musical, The Wizard of Oz, with Taylor. But when after-school rehearsals and the show came to an end, I found other reasons to be at school. I took up my teacher’s offer on letting me stay after for a few minutes to help her clean up the classroom. I was overjoyed with even that opportunity.
I was reorganizing the school supply boxes, my teacher alarmed me from across
“Look Michelle! Come over here!”
Without a second thought, I rushed over to where she was standing, in front of the glass tank where we kept the caterpillars. Some of them were already in the process of pupating into adults. As I scanned the tank attentively, something suddenly caught my eyes. On the far left side of the tank, there was a resting chrysalis; it had been there for a while and was ready to hatch.
Standing there completely astounded, I watched as a fragile butterfly emerged from its chrysalis. The metamorphic transformation was unlike anything I had ever seen. The chrysalis had revealed something unexpected and different within.