Brittany Christensen
August 26, 2015 12:00 pm

I’ve moved eight times. Half of those moves were in the span of two years. It’s hard to explain why I’ve moved so much; the reason is different each time. Sometimes it is to move closer to family, sometimes to be closer to where my dad works. Sometimes, it’s for other reasons that I disagree with.

When the announcement of a new move happens though, it’s usually out of the blue. I get home from school one day, or my parents will take the family out for dinner. My mom says, “Guess what!” and I know it’s going to be big. “We’re moving!” she says. When I was young, I was excited. Life was simpler. As I grew older, I learned to hate those words and they fill me with dread.

“Not again,” I think. I remember all of the previous moves. I remember my famiilar experiences of being the New Kid.

No matter how many times I change scenery, I still haven’t found a way to prepare myself for being thrown into a new environment. Culture shock sets in quickly, especially on the first night when I’m expected to fall asleep in an unfamiliar, empty-walled room as if it were my real home.

I wake up in the morning and have to get dressed for school — because apparently that’s what normal functioning humans do. But what do I wear? Am I going to stand out like a fool if I wear this band t-shirt instead of a flannel? I can’t know until I step outside, which I’m not about to do in my pajamas.

And then, even if I do pick the “right” outfit and totally look like I fit in, what about the more important parts of fitting in and making new friends? Will they like me? Will they care? People take notice of me, and before I can stammer out my own name, I’m introduced to 10 people at once. “Wait, I can’t memorize names that fast! Slow down, please,” I beg in my head.

But that’s what it’s like being the New Kid.

As the New Kid, I’m bombarded with questions.

“Do you like it here?” Um, I don’t know, I just arrived.

“Where are you from?” Do you mean where I was born, where I lived last, or where I lived the longest?

“Have you met so-and-so yet?” Maybe, for a split second at least.

Once the initial question phase is over, I finally get a chance to take a look around. Groups of friends are formed in comfortable circles. They laugh together and put their hands on each other’s shoulders. I become wildly jealous, even though I know it’s not good to be. These people have had time to get comfortable with each other, while I have to start from scratch, trying to push myself into an already-established group. They don’t understand the silent struggle I’m going through as they are having fun.

For a while, I’m stuck juggling my new life and old life, unwilling to give up on the old. I become attached to objects like a simple glass decoration, or to my Grandparents’ house when I visit, because at least those have remained constant through the years.

But slowly, I explore this new place and learn about its own quirks that make it unique. I make myself comfortable and make new friends. Sometimes.

Every once in a while, I remember that I haven’t spent years with new friends, and that I will probably move unexpectedly any time now. Sometimes I don’t even unpack my moving boxes, because many times I’ve stayed in a new place for only a few months. The longest I’ve stayed somewhere was just over five years, but that was when I was little. Sometimes, I don’t know if it’s even worth it to make friends in a new place. I know I’ll go through another painful goodbye soon anyway. I don’t bother to memorize landmarks to find my way around. It may sound silly to miss landmarks, but it’s happened. Maybe it’s the memories attached to those landmarks that I really miss.

No matter what, this is sure: When I leave, it’s easy to see how I’ve grown since arriving. How the people and places have affected me. I wonder what kind of mark I’ve left on the place. That’s the life of the perpetual New Kid though.

(Image via Paramount Pictures.)

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