When we come back from Christmas break, every year it’s the same thing: a combination of “it’s like we were never gone” and “I can’t remember where I sit.” Literally. This year was no exception. At least six or eight of them wandered around trying to trigger memories of seating familiarity, and a couple finally just gave up and pleaded,

“Don’t we have a new seating chart?”

I also got a new student joining the Homies in first period. He moved here from Cambria, a small town (pop. 6000) about 45 minutes up the coast from us. He is obviously Latino. I say this because it plays a part in the story. Let’s call him “Jesus” because I just rewatched Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and can’t stop singing the songs.

I would now like to introduce you to “Hayley.” Picture Stevie Nicks as a 12 year old girl, right down to the shawl, only with ripped jeans instead of flouncy skirts. She got one of her 27 rings (many with large turquoise elements) stuck today. Again. Needless to say she is also an astronaut.

In Homie Base today, I introduce the new guy to the crew.

“We have a new Homie joining us today. His name is Jesus, and he comes to us from Cambria. Try not to scare him too much.”

Hayley was only one step behind today.

“Where is he from again?”


“Oh. I thought he might be from another country.”

hmmm. Suppressed giggles all around. After an eye roll she didn’t notice, I keep a straight face and say,

“No, Hayley, but he does speak Cambrian.”

The rest of the class erupts into laughter, but she is strangely silent. Finally she manages to say,

“That’s cool.” And she goes back to trying to unstick her ring.