When summer break ended, Nate went back to College Station, and I got ready for a school year that was going to suck in, like, fourteen different ways.
It was the first time I was met at the gate by a guy holding up a card with my name on it. I felt instantly more important. The man led me to a small pizza place in the middle of the airport, where he told me I’d be waiting for the rest of the people showing up today to arrive. There were already four other giant people sitting at a table; one was watching the TV as the other three fiddled with their cell phones. “We have forty-five minutes before our last person arrives. Try not to wander off,” the man informed me just before he walked off.
During lunch most of the team sat together and talked about the game that night, while we tried not to freak out. To me it was a huge accomplishment just being asked to sit with them, so I tried to stay quiet as Tommy told us about the team that was coming to play and what he knew about the guys who were playing. Everyone was excited to see how our tactic would work tonight. We were all of the same thought that this was going to be really, really good or really, really bad. Tommy was in the middle of describing a game he’d played in last year when a cheerleader walked up to us and looked at me. “Are you Danny?”
The next day he took me to the school to sign me up for classes. The semester had been in session for a month, so I was already behind the curve a little, but my dad didn’t think it was going to affect me. People stared at us as we walked through the halls. It was obvious this was a pretty small town, which meant a lot of these people had known each other for a long time. No doubt that was going to make a difficult situation a thousand times harder. I had opted for faded jeans with a hoodie over a black T-shirt—casual garb, I had thought, but from looking around I could tell I was overdressed. It wasn’t what I was wearing as much as where I had bought them.