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Fleeing the Nest MAG
Throughout lifeyou're faced with more than your share of forks in the road. Every decisionshapes who you are, and who you will become. That's why the big stuff takes suchcareful consideration. As a freshman in high school, my biggest decision waswhether to have pancakes or toast for breakfast.
Four years is nothingshort of an eternity as you maneuver through congested hallways trying to avoidconfrontation with upperclassmen. It's inconceivable that someday you'll be oneof them. Meander through the hallway of any high school and you're destined tohear the murmurs of one topic - college. I'd always known the search would be achallenge, but I never imagined it could lead to such a gargantuan war ofemotions.
Staring me down, two hideous scenarios presented themselves. Tomy right, a green monster ferociously tore at a New York University sweatshirt.He stood before a path that would take me miles from home to unchartedterritories. That same path would transport me to a world of parental liberation,a life to be lived on my own, a concept I embraced one moment and feared thenext. To my left, a child wore a University of Miami baseball cap. The child layin its crib, guarded on all sides by protective bars and surrounded byfamiliarity. The poor thing didn't have the sense to realize that in that crib,he could go nowhere else.
These images haunted my days and left merestless at night, but I refused to take a step in either direction. That is,until my eighteenth birthday, when I was smacked with the realization thatentering the surreal state of adulthood meant a great deal more than using myreal ID to get into a club. You've got to feel it to believe it.
Birthdaydinners were a family tradition, as tedious as they were. Quite frankly, afterjust coming to terms with the fact that my childhood was over, the last event Iwas up for was the inevitable attack on my future plans. The birthday dinner cameand ended. My sister and I stayed behind pretending to clear dishes.
"So, are we going to make a break for it, or what?" she saidwith a small nod toward the kitchen door. Immediately I surrendered the Brillopad and we fled. Now, the word "fled" brings to mind a wild and unrulynight, one that would be much disapproved of by parents, but our escape was nomore than child's play. Literally.
"It's amazing the both of us canstill fit up here," I said, the wooden planks of our backyard tree housecreaking under our weight.
"So, is Mom still bugging you about NewYork?" Melissa asked.
"Is she ever," I replied. "Thiswould be a lot easier if I were an orphan, you know. Then I wouldn't have afamily or a home that'd be so hard to leave."
"You don't meanthat. Okay, maybe you do," she said with a laugh. "You're not a littlegirl anymore. What you'd give up would be a huge sacrifice for the sake ofsecurity."
We sat in silence, the kind where you start to noticelittle sounds that are always present. At that moment I heard my heartbeat. Iknew that with each thump there was a woman, not knocking, but pounding to be letout. At the same time, she was trying to kick away a young girl who clung to herheels. I closed my eyes, and I've never had a more vivid image. The woman gentlybent down to the young girl and soothed her cries. Calmed, the two examined eachother, and after a moment became one. As I opened my eyes slowly, they met thoseof my sister.
"Don't let me interrupt anything," she smiled. Ireturned her smile and suggested we return to the party before we were put onfile as missing persons.
Back in the living room, I interrupted mymother's account of yet another of our childhood shenanigans on the grounds thatI had an announcement.
"I know you're all aware of my inability tochoose a university," I began. "So now that I've got you all in oneroom," I cleared my throat, "I want to let you know that I have made mydecision."