The first day of school was a lot smoother than I’d anticipated. Everything was a lot smoother than I’d anticipated. There was so much that I didn’t have to think about anymore. I didn’t have to think about if I’d brought enough pads. I didn’t have to keep checking myself in the mirror to make sure my hair wasn’t a mess. I didn’t have to keep readjusting my bra. There was so much free space in my head, I didn’t know what to do with it.
Going to the bathroom had been weird at first too. Now I knew why the boys bathroom smelled so bad. Peeing was like trying to aim a gun that had a mind of its own.
First period was algebra, which I hated when I was girl. I usually spent all class texting or thinking about the juicy gossip my girlfriends had spilled to me during homeroom. Or thinking about how fine Mr. Jamison was. Or thinking about what I wanted to eat for lunch. Or thinking about something. Anything. But this time, I didn’t do any of that. I just sat there. Staring at the front of the class.
And just staring.
“Crossover!” Mr. Jamison shouted.
I snapped out of it and looked up at him.
“What’s your name?”
“Jina,” I said.
“Pay attention. This will be on the test.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. But I was still amazed at what had just happened. I had been sitting there doing nothing. My head was so clear. So calm. So…empty.
Usually my mind was like a bowl of spaghetti with noodles of thoughts spilling over each other. But now it was like a waffle. Everything was in boxes. I could feel my thoughts about class in one box, my thoughts about food in another box, my thoughts about sports in another one, and my thoughts about girls in another box. And this box, the one I was in right now, was a box about…nothing.
I was literally thinking about nothing.
This was incredible.
No wonder guys seem so relaxed all the time. There was this whole world of free space in their heads. It was like having a spa in my brain. Or like a nice little beach in my mind that I could just take a nap in anytime I wanted.
Being a guy was so easy. I could get used to this.
But lunch was a whole different beast. I got my food and scanned the caf for a potential seat. The basketball players were sitting at a table together screaming about something; some freshmen were playing spades next to them; the cheerleaders were at another table, talking and laughing; there were artists sitting together drawing in their notebooks and painting symbols on the table; and there was a whole array of different cliques everywhere I could see. And none of them looked like they’d be open to me.
I was an idiot. It had taken me weeks to finally find my friends freshman year. Why did I think this would’ve been different? Why hadn’t I thought about this?
But now wasn’t the time to cry about it. I had to put my big girl pants on, pick a table, and sit. I was supposed to sit with guys in order to really get the most out of the Cross. So the cheerleaders were out of the question. But the basketball players were so loud. They would probably all go quiet when I walked up and then everyone would be listening to me talk and if I said something stupid, the whole caf would hear me. So that was out.
I looked over at the guys playing spades and watched them. They were a lot quieter than the basketball players. And they didn’t look as weird as the artists. So I walked over to them. And the whole walk there, I ran my lines in my head. “Hi. My name’s Jina. I’m a crossover. Do you mind if I sit with you guys?”
But what if they said no? What if they were so deep in the game that they didn’t even hear me? Or what if they were so passionate about the game that they exploded on me and cursed me out? Wasn’t there a rule that no one was supposed to talk during spades? And I was about to break that rule right now. I was about to commit the most heinous crime in the history of spade playing and utterly destroy all hope that I would ever have a friend again in this school and I’d be doomed to—
“You wanna play?” somebody asked me.
“What?” I asked. I hadn’t realized I’d made it to the table.
“Gary doesn’t wanna play anymore and I need a partner.”
“Ummmm…Hi. My name’s Jina. I’m a—”
“Crossover,” the boy finished for me. “I can tell. You know how to play spades?”
“Sit down. Lemme teach you.”
And that was it.
Just like that.
I sat down, he taught me how to play, and by the time lunch was over, we were all friends.
This was a lot easier than I thought. I could get used to this.