First day of grade nine. After the assembly in the gym, we’re ordered to head over to our designated homeroom for the rest of the semester, room 201. I walk in. The wall has two filing cabinets. The front has desks filled with loose paperwork. Maps hang from the wall. On the other wall are metal plates on top of the blackboards. One orange and two green with class codes are written on them. I recognize a few friends. The back wall has a few more maps. A projector cart lies in the middle of the classroom. The back corner has a wooden desk, larger than the rest filled with knick-knacks. I find a seat. I see more familiar faces walk in. Notably, Gurse from my class last year and Gurvir from kindergarten. Everyone settles down.

An old geography teacher, Mr. Rendeiro walks in. He has a gentle and comforting voice. Icebreakers follow. Everything is new but the exact same as before. Yet, I feel I belong. A new place, many new faces and I feel at ease.

It takes us two months to realize that we can eat lunch and relax in 201. Two friend groups bond in that room. We talk, eat, and eventually become bored doing nothing for an hour every school day. Then we see it, beside the door, on a shelf, in the wall. What one gets for a dollar, a deck of playing cards and it seems that our boredom would disappear shortly. We play.

The game’s called President. Empty your hand as fast as you can. To explain the rules would take a paragraph. The first few days were fun. Weeks after, we played instantly. Months later, it slowly dragged itself into a sad realm of boredom. Once again, boredom returns.

One time, Gurvir pulls my chair back a little bit without me knowing. I sit down on the corner of the chair and break one of its metal legs. I look around stressing. Gurvir, Gurse and all other witnesses laugh.

“Gurvir pulled my chair back! Nope! That’s not my fault!” I state while everyone says I broke the chair. Mr. Rendeiro isn’t around. We fix the leg, get a new chair from somewhere else in the class and continue our day.

On the occasions that a club meets inside 201, we get kicked out for a few minutes and promptly return when people start piling out. But we’re still bored. Pranks can only get you so far. Cards only last months. At this point in winter, I received a gift, Monopoly Deal. “You’ll like it, it’s fun” I plead to my friends. Everyone makes fun of me, because why would a Monopoly card game be fun? We play.

Hooked instantly. To explain the rules would take a paragraph. The first few days were enjoyable. Weeks after, plays became automatic. Months later, it slowly dragged itself into a depressing realm of boredom. Once again, boredom returns.

Troy rips up a card for entertainment when I go to my locker. I don’t know how we drudge through time.

Grade 10 rolls along. First semester lunches are also spent in 201. Second semester evaporates due to quarantine from the Covid pandemic. Grade 11 is spent online. I play online with my friends the whole pandemic. When we return to the room in Grade 12, we never step inside 201. It feels prohibited. We sit outside the room. On rare occasions, we see Mr. Rendeiro inside with a mask on. We get bored enough to play catch in the hallways or venture outside during lunchtime, but we always return to 201.

Maybe Mr. Rendeiro forgot our names. Maybe we aren’t meant to stay forever. On the few occasions I step inside, I bolt back out as soon as I can. Before we know it, we never see the place again.