Home >> Books >> Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between: Book Excerpt
Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between: Book Excerpt
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Written by a member or members of the Editorial Team.
Editorial Staff

My world was turned upside down when my father announced that we were moving to the United States. Dad, who was born on a U.S. military base in Germany and spent part of his childhood on installations in France, worked for the U.S. Air Force, and my family’s military heritage which included my grandfather who had fought in and survived the Korean War, went back several generations.

While living in England, we rarely visited the airbase where my father worked. For the most part, we lived far enough away that we were not heavily influenced by military or American culture. We actually lived on a pig farm and thoroughly enjoyed local village life – I had barely any sense that I was different from my fellow British friends.

Having received Uncle Sam’s marching orders, we prepared to resettle across the pond. I remember being very excited to move. In my young mind the United States of America was big, flashy, exciting, and a million years more advanced than the sleepy English village I had called home for as much of my short life as I could remember.


 

I had lived in a bungalow on a pig farm in England. In comparison our new house, located in a sprawling suburb of a vast city of endless entertainment, was infinitely more spacious and seemed like a mansion.

The military had need of my father’s services at Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas, Nevada, a place drastically different from Fressingfield, England. It was hot. It was bright. It was loud. It was full of people, not livestock. I had lived in a bungalow on a pig farm in England. In comparison our new house, located in a sprawling suburb of a vast city of endless entertainment, was infinitely more spacious and seemed like a mansion. In place of a front garden with grass and rose bushes, we had several artistically arranged piles of pebbles: a rock garden. This was the most absurd and amusing thing to me, but does make sense in the middle of a desert, I suppose.




Nothing, however, better showcased how different my new life in Las Vegas was than going to school. Back in Fressingfield, I’d attended a primary school with close to 100 students up the equivalent of fifth grade. It was an old-fashioned school. ‘Dinner ladies’ cooked us real meals and served them on real plates with real cutlery. Manners were of the utmost importance, and it was perfectly acceptable for a teacher, dinner lady, or any other authority figure to deliver a swift and decisive smack to the backside of any child not adhering to the customs and courtesies being diligently instilled in us.

It was perfectly acceptable for a teacher or any other authority figure to deliver a swift and decisive smack to the backside of any child not adhering to customs and courtesies. Click To Tweet

Now here I was in Las Vegas, a nervous seven-year-old standing in the enormous shadow of my new elementary school. It housed more than ten times the number of students enrolled in my previous school. The actual building appeared to have been built out of a giant discarded Tetris black. It was a massive grey concrete cube periodically dotted with peach-colored doors that contained the only windows to be found on the entire edifice. The air around the building shimmered with heat as the sun baked the asphalt and gave the whole scene an otherworldly appearance.


 

Kids were running, screaming, yelling, and causing general mayhem. Two boys were being taped to the wall, and something appeared to be on fire in the corner of the room.

Nestled deep inside this enormous cue was my second grade classroom. Being led there on my first day, I was sure I would never remember which set of identical peach door to enter, nor which complicated combination of turns would bring me to my assigned educational chamber. One of the first things I noticed was what a backwards sensation it was to come indoors here: the outside was scorching hot and inside was chilly thanks to the powerful air conditioners that were a necessity in nearly every building in Las Vegas. Rarely did summers in the U.K. got to a point where one would need to cool a building by any means more powerful than opening a window.

As I entered my classroom, I was greeted with a sight that caused my heart to stop momentarily and panic to overtake me. Click To Tweet

As I entered my classroom, I was greeted with a sight that caused my heart to stop momentarily and panic to overtake me. The room was filled with the loud chatter of several dozen children. Kids were running, screaming, yelling, and causing general mayhem. Two boys were being taped to the wall, and something appeared to be on fire in the corner of the room. It was so chaotic! This wild frenzy of noise and activity was a far cry from what I expected to find in a classroom. In Fressingfield, students sat quietly in anticipation of a teacher’s arrival. When a teacher (or any adult) entered the room, every student would quickly stand in silence behind their chair waiting for the signal to be seated. If a teacher arrived to find loud chattering or (almost unimaginably) children running around, it was grounds for execution… or so we believed.



If a teacher arrived to find loud chattering or children running around, it was grounds for execution… or so we believed. Click To Tweet I wanted to remain alive and wanted desperately not to be around when a teacher arrived and began annihilating these reckless children. Click To Tweet

Now, as I stood amidst mayhem that would have warranted unspeakable punishment in the world I came from, I was frozen with fear. I wanted nothing to do with the madness I had been thrust into. I wanted to remain alive and wanted desperately not to be around when a teacher arrived and began annihilating these reckless children. As I considered running our of the door I had just entered, I watched in a amazement as an adult who definitely carried herself like a teacher entered the room. As if completely oblivious to the uproar all around her, she quietly made her way to a desk and began scribbling notes on a piece of paper. Perhaps she was studying the list of pupils she would soon condemn to death and in which order they would receive their well-deserved fates.

Just when I didn’t think it could get any stranger, the whole class, in unison, began to recite what I would later learn was The Pledge of Alliance.

Just then, a loud synthesized gong boomed from an intercom system perched just above the door. Like magic, the room froze. By the sound of the second gong, you could have almost heard a pin drop. The fire was extinguished and the children who had been taped to the wall were miraculously free. Simultaneously, the entire class stood and faced the American flag hoisted in the corner of the room. They then raised their right hands and placed them over their hearts. Just when I didn’t think it could get any stranger, the whole class, in unison, began to recite what I would later learn was The Pledge of Alliance.

Not wanting to look out of place, I hastily adopted the same stance as everyone else. Unfortunately, I happen to be left-handed and so instinctively covered my heart with my left hand (which, I later found out, is considered unacceptable) and listened to the voices reciting patriotic poetry all around me. The only patriotic thing I knew was God Save The Queen, and so, not wanting to be the only one standing in silence, I began to recite the U.K.’s national anthem.

I was blinding the class with the light reflecting from the vast swathes of pasty leg my incredibly short navy-blue shorts revealed. Click To Tweet

It wasn’t only the words coming out of my mouth that betrayed how unique I was compared to those around me. Having come from an island usually covered in cloud, I was markedly paler then anyone else in the classroom. I was also dressed about a decade behind everyone else. My fellow students wore baggy, neon-colored t-shirts and knee-length shorts. I was inadvertently blinding the class with the light reflecting from the vast swathes of pasty leg my incredibly short navy-blue shorts revealed.

My forest-green shirt was tight around my chest as was the fashion in the U.K. at the time. You could easily have made three of my shirts from the material of just one of the baggy garments my classmates sported. There I stood: an oddly dressed, starkly pale, timid boy clutching his heart with his (unintentionally disrespectful) left hand, reciting (again, unintentionally disrespectful) words of allegiance to the very crown and monarchy from which the country whose flag I stood before had fought to free itself from.

There I stood: reciting words of allegiance to the very crown from which the country whose flag I stood before had fought to free itself. Click To Tweet

Sadly, The Pledge of Allegiance is not a terribly long work, and, as I had started late, I was not able to finish my one-man homage to the Queen before the rest of the students finished their patriotic recital. In the silence that followed their morning routine, one small voice could be heard uttering the final lines to God Save The Queen in a thick British accent. “Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us. God save the Queen.” All eyes fixed on me. Gasps took in so much air that the oxygen in the room may have become scarce. But thin air was not enough to save me from the impending wrath of Mrs. Bower.



While she had seemed strangely calm amidst the chaos of the classroom initially, Mrs. Bower was alarmingly agitated in the stillness in which I now seemed to be held captive. What followed was a stern lecture about the importance of patriotism and severe warnings that antics of the magnitude I had just displayed would not be tolerated. She continued at high decibels in front of an audience of stunned and somewhat bemused students. For my part, I could not figure out what I had done wrong. But I was sure that whatever unknown infraction I had committed I could well be executed for it if I tried it again.

To read more, purchase Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between (affiliate link)



Subscribe to our Newsletter
We respect your privacy.

Share your thoughts

Share your thoughts

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
  • Contact

    Email (General):
    admin@theparentvoice.com

    Story Pitch:
    mypitch@theparentvoice.com

    Advertising & Collaborations:
    theteam@theparentvoice.com 

    Mailing Address:
    the Parent Voice,
    1750 Lundy Ave. #613176

    San Jose, CA 95161

    Phone Number:
    (802) 448-2TPV (878)
    (United States)

  • About the Parent Voice, Magazine

    the Parent Voice, (tPV,) is an online parenting magazine that celebrates multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural families by showcasing our many different and unique experiences, providing resources, nurturing virtual support, and building a community of like-minded individuals who want to raise responsible and respectful children in a world that may not always be that same way for them.

    tPV, is passionately and lovingly created by mothers who are all volunteers who believe in the mission of the Magazine. We are grateful to our contributors, our consultants, and our readers for supporting our vision and values. Thank you. To read more about us, click here. To donate, click here


     

     

  • Subscribe to our Newsletter
    We respect your privacy.

Top