Rough Italian Lessons

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Growing up in a wealthy suburb of Chicago, my friends, siblings, and I have all had access to programs, schools, and really anything a child can want. My dad works hard to provide for my family, my mom is focused on making sure that we have great experiences to learn from, and to enjoy our childhoods. She also makes sure that we have the best education, and constantly brings to our attention different learning tools and supplements so that we can further our learning experience in this ever changing world. They were the perfect and dynamic duo that raised the perfect set of four children, ones that supported each other on the soccer field, have jobs and volunteer, and interact with surprising compatibility. We were always laughing, talking about something that just happened, a joke we just heard, or taking long bike rides through the forest preserves. Now entering my final year of high school, in the town I have spent half of my life, I have to apply to colleges, study hard, fight off senioritis, and another factor, help out my mom and my brothers and sister, all younger than me, as we will be living in a house where one wrong move will send us into a two bedroom apartment, and my dad into an even smaller hotel room, because we have reached the turning point in our family unity. One the would forever change the family dynamic and alter the course of environment that my siblings would grow up in.

My family hasn’t taken a family vacation, to see sights and experience new cultures, since the final two wonderful siblings were added to our family, eleven years ago. With my interest in language in culture, and think logically and make informed decisions, we decided to visit Italy, the main benefactor of genes and tradition in my dad’s side of the family. The plan was to leave dad home to work, travel to Rome, and visit the sights and get a feel for the county for the week, then have dad, who frequented the country quite a bit as a teen and young adult, meet up with us in Tuscany, where we would see the countryside as a family.

A week into our discoveries of quaint towns and happiness in a farmhouse on a mountain in southern Tuscany, when by freak accident, my parents thrust their relationship and our uncertain futures on the line. My dad, who had a loving family, a nice house, and a stable job, even after having been laid off once, and found new work in a different working environment, had thrown away all that he had, that was almost a given to have in our position, so that he could get rushes of adrenaline that could keep him appeased, as though what great happiness he had wasn’t enough. His infidelities, and cruel, emotionally entangling impromptu meetings in plain sight of friends and the whole town, had thrown a hatchet into our perfect family, and the wound was so deep, that it is impossible to heal.

As it was impossible to live in the same vicinity during the immediate aftermath of these shocking events, dad went home to pack up, as it was an agreement between the two to have space to work things out, and it threw the kids into shock. I inherited the ability to keep a cool head in any given situation, so I immediately threw my rescuer gear into hyper-drive. My mom, in the proximal days, was a wreck, and was it was nearly impossible to console her. I took it upon myself, however, to make the most of our trip, as it was likely to be the last that we could take for the foreseeable future. We traveled to Florence, and had the marvelous pizza, spent time in festivals and events around the towns in our area, and had a ball, given the situation. Nighttime would come, and mom would cry herself to sleep, the empty side of the bed a constant reminder of the awful events that tore apart our family. I, along with the help of the kids, kept her occupied and happy during that last week, as it was sure to be the last memory of fun that sat in the minds of the kids.

We tried to get home a week early, so that damage control could be assessed, and on the plane ride home, separated by 10 rows from the nearest family member, it hit me. From the time that plane touched down on the tarmac, my life would be changed forever. No more would I come home from school and have two smiling, loving parents to greet me, help me with my physics lab, or plan a date for my girlfriend. A wave of heat flushed over me, knowing that the only time I would see my parents, and my family together, was in court and the weekly transfer from Dad to Mom and vice versa, an image that had been so deeply ingrained into my head, Dad and Mom, Mom and Dad, together until the day they die, forever loving, forever joined by the sacred bond they shared together up on that altar in North Carolina.

From that moment forward, I was determined to become a better person, a better student, a better brother, friend, son, and rescuer, because no one should have to experience the pain that rips families apart. I can only grow stronger from this experience, tasting happiness, having it taken away, and now my journey is to build myself and others a happy new life, one that I won’t squander away, like my father. Already, I have learned that nothing is permanent, nothing is a given, and I want to make sure that I provide the best by doing my best, in college, at my job, and until my last breath, because nothing is forever, nothing is guaranteed to last, so we can only make the absolute best with what we’ve got, and forever how long we have it.





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