A Suit and Tie
by Josh Miles
Artwork by: Daniel Workman
Doors often lead to adventures. They open at the beginning of new stories, and close at the conclusion.
Looking up at the enormous brown doors ahead of me I took a deep breath, adjusted my tie, and pushed my hands against the firm wood in front of me.
The building itself stood tall in front of me. A simple building, mainly brick and thatched wood. Vines and dark green plants grew up the rustic walls giving a sense of age and wisdom. Much of the building had been standing for over a hundred years. The newer parts—pieces rebuilt after bombings in WWII—were easy to spot among the old architecture of the building.
Walking in, was something entirely different and perplexing. I took in what laid in front of me; long halls, deep blue carpet and the buzzing of young, high-pitched British accents. My eyes scanned the hall. We all looked the same; dark grey trousers, light blue button-up shirt with a matching blue striped tie. Some in grey jumpers and all in dark blue blazers. Hundreds of us, identical in look, filled the halls. Yet I stood alone, an alien. Lost and confused in a bustling hallways of boys. This was my new reality.
Chaos engulfed the hallways, making it nearly impossible to navigate. It was the first day of school, so most of the boys crowded the halls catching up with their friends. Hurriedly telling the over-embellished stories of their eventful summer. I spent most of my time weaving my way through the swarms of boys in the vain hope that I was going in the right direction.
Finally I stumbled into my class, with what was most likely a bewildered look on my face. Two dark brown eyes met mine as I looked up. They were fiery and passionate with a hint of crazy. I quickly found the face that the eyes belonged to. “I’m Mrs. Brown.” I quickly snapped out of my confusion and introduced myself.
Mrs. Brown, the music director, had an aura of authority about her that quickly filled the room. Even the obvious jokesters in the class hushed when she spoke. I wasn’t the most social, but I still took that as a tell-tale sign to keep quiet.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves. When my turn came there was a noticeable change of tempo that clouded the air. Being the new kid, from America, I drew a lot of attention, which didn’t help my plan of staying unnoticed and in the shadows. I was now the hot topic of discussion.
Chatter erupted between the boys. One went out of his way to introduce himself to me. Jonny was a month older than me, which he would later love to point out. We stood about the same height, but he had bright blonde hair and a warm welcoming smile. We quickly got to know each other, he seemed fascinated with where I came from. He too was a foreigner. Originally born in South Africa, he had moved to England as a young boy. Looking back, it’s funny how a small similarity sparked such a strong and quick friendship.
Almost instantly we became best friends, and he took the role of my tour guide for the rest of the day. “Here is the math hall,” “That’s Tom over there, he’s a real twat so watch out.” I learned everything I’d ever need to know about my new school all in an hour. Most of the day went in this way. We continued our tour through lunch and into the highlight of any nine-year-olds day, recess.
The old school owned an expansive amount of land for its size. The primary field stood directly outside of the school. An ancient dark green forest surrounded the field—which proved to be wonderful for laser tag, hide and seek, or any other mischief nine-year-olds might get into. Behind the forest were acres of fields mostly used for rugby or the school triathlons. But on this day, recess was held on the turf and cricket fields outside the lunch hall.
The field itself was beautiful. Oval in shape with bright green blades of grass, always perfectly cut for matches. The boys we were with chose to play a game of headers. I became utterly lost almost instantly. Quickly, I learned that the purpose of the game is similar to soccer; however, you can only use your head and the ball is significantly smaller than a soccer ball. The majority of the game, I got smacked in the face with the ball. But by the end I had hit the ball correctly at least once or twice.
Laughter and cries of outrage echoed across the field, and others flocked to join like moths to a flame. Intensity rose, and tempers grew passionate with rage and aggression. Insults became the language of the game. Something that was normal to everyone but me. However, the game was too intense for me to care and the “Piss off American what are you doing?” and “Bloody hell get the Fuck out the way,” comments that would have bothered me earlier, fell to the wind. No one remembers who actually ended up winning, but for me it was a fantastic experience that still lingers in my memory.
The rest of the day moved like a blur. The afternoon slipped under my nose and I didn’t catch sight of it until the final bell. I made my way home through the narrow streets surrounded by enormous dark green hedges towering over me like giants. I thought of what to tell my parents.
Dinner dragged on as it always does on the first day of school. My parents berated me with trivial questions. “How green was the grass? How blue was the sky?” But in all honesty, I loved giving them every detail. I rambled so much they had to silence me so my brothers could have a turn. Something about stepping out of my comfort zone and having everything work out, had brought me out of my shell.
Looking back now, most of my memories of my time in the private british school for boys have fallen to the hazy memories of childhood. But standing in front of that enormous brown door, and taking those first steps in will always be engrained in my mind.