Note: Read the original “My First Day of School” piece that inspired this ongoing Aristocrats-style series.
I will never forget my first day at Kingston Cemetery. Believe me, I have tried my hardest, but I recall it like it was yesterday. I wouldn't say I have the sharpest of memories, but the nightmares that frequent my sleep seem determined to keep the details of that day fresh in my mind.
For most people, the first day at the cemetery is an exciting opportunity to reunite with friends and start a new year with a clean slate. I'd be lying if I said I didn't experience a slight amount of excitement that year, but what little bit I did enjoy was mostly trumped by fear of the unknown.
I knew that while almost everyone attending that day would be happy to see each other after a long family silence, I would be enduring the strange feeling of knowing nobody, as it was my first day in the graveyard.
I held myself together, even as a big red-headed kid made fun of my Playskool shovel and sand castle bucket.To make matters worse, I had only just learned to use a shovel a mere two weeks prior, leaving all of my friends behind and hundreds of miles away. Needless to say the ride to the cemetery that day was full of half-hearted optimism and feelings of homesickness and depression. Still, I remember feeling determined not to get too down, assuring myself things would work out for the best.
As I walked into the cemetery for the first time I was very nervous and thought about turning around and running home. It took some courage, but I managed to convince myself that I was going to be fine and that all of my worries were simply in my head. After all, my biggest fear was getting beat up at lunch, an occurrence that I had yet to witness happen to anyone on any of my other first days of digging holes.
It wasn't long until I walked up to my new grave plot, pushing aside the bad thoughts and focusing on being optimistic. Before I walked over, I took a second to assure myself that I was going to make a bunch of new friends and that the digging year was going to be great. Then I picked my head up and marched up to my new grave plot.
It didn't take more than a second or two for my fears to be validated, because as I walked up to the grave plot, all of the family members in the funeral started pointing at me and shouting angrily as if I was some kind of alien. It was almost as if they had planned it all along, because the uproar of anger could only be compared to what I saw at a surprise party we once threw for my grandpa. Nonetheless, I pressed forward with determination.
I held myself together, even as a big red-headed kid made fun of my Playskool shovel and sand castle bucket. But then an even bigger kid ran up behind me as I started digging and ripped my shovel out of my hand. He proceeded to pull the handle off of it and began punching me with it like brass knuckles as he dropped the rest of my shovel on the ground. And finally, in true bully form, he finished disassembling the shovel and threw the bucket at my face, shattering it (along with my feelings) into pieces.
I could not believe how mean these family members were to me, when I had done nothing to them. I tried to ignore it, but panic began to fill my entire body and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. As hard as I tried to fight it, it was no use. Once I started crying, I fell apart and ran away from the funeral as fast as I could.
I had no idea where anything was, so I just took off and followed the graveyard wherever it would take me. I ran past several tombstones but it seemed like nobody even noticed me, so I just kept running until I found the manager's front office.
I burst through his door while he was consoling a crying family and tried to tell him what had happened, but I was so hysterical that he couldn't understand me. He told the family he was talking to he would talk to them later and showed them the door. He grabbed me a glass of water and told me everything would be fine. He tried to calm me down by having me take deep breaths.
I explained to him how mean these family members were, and slowly I regained some composure. After about ten minutes of watery eyes and sniffles, he managed to get me to stop crying, and made me realize that I might be overreacting a bit. He handed me a tissue and I wiped away the tears, thinking I had cried myself out.
Unfortunately that wasn't the case, because it wasn't more than two minutes later that I started balling again when he told me he didn't think I was cut out to be a gardener at his cemetery.
All “First Day of…” Aristocrats-style articles:
My First Day at Alcoholics Anonymous
My First Day of School, Part 2