It was my first day of grade three. We had moved in the summer, from in town to five miles out of town, just down the road from the reserve. I was a kid. Everything was new. I didn't have buddies on the block anymore: my nearest friend was a mile-and-a-half bike ride away. I couldn't walk to school anymore: I shared a seat on the bus. I wouldn't be coming home for lunch anymore: instead, I carried my cherry red Mickey Mouse lunchbox.
So, when I found my way to the right classroom, and sat in my assigned chair, you can bet that I was up for anything good.
New teacher: she was old. National anthem: we sang it. But no Lord's Prayer after, like before. That's okay. Roll call: "Lori-Ann." Well, that's my name, but. . . not what everybody called me. Some kids were asked for the band number. I felt left out. But too shy to ask for that special question.
I came home that night, exhausted, trying to remember the names of the girls who I would sit with for the next six years on the bus, but excited, too. A new school! New friends! And I asked my mom, "What's my band number?"
She smiled. And told me that I didn't have one. That was only for kids from the reservation. And I'm not one of them.