True Names

July 17, 2008
I have many names. There is my real name, my nickname, my mom’s name for me, the name I picked out to use if I am ever put in the WPP, the name my old friends had for me. Then I have titles. I have the title the government gave me, the title my high school gave me, the title that say I am the child of a missionary, the title that indicates I grew up in a third world country, and the title that I am bequeathed by my nature.

It said my name on the airplane ticket. It wasn’t hard getting on that plane. It wasn’t even two-thirty in the morning, like some flights. We didn’t have to many layovers, and the plane even had those little TV’s on the seats. The food choices were chicken or fish, just like always, and our luggage was safely packed away several feet below us. I didn’t get a bad feeling in my gut when I stepped onto the threshold of the carpeted British Airways. I love flying, and I loved the country I was going to. America had always been the exciting part of my life. Being one of the three Americans in my sixth grade class of fourteen, I considered myself at least half American.

On the flight, the hours ticked away silently as we left behind my home, my friends, my beloved dog, and I didn’t even care. I was going back to America! Where there are McDonald’s and Wendy’s and malls and amusement parks and theaters. And that’s how, at twelve years old, in the greatest country in the world, I learned the meaning of life.

There was no vision, no flash of light, no sudden knowledge that dawned upon me. Just the sight of my sister’s backs as we walked back into our hotel room after three months of deputation across the United States, and I saw, for the second time in my life, my mother crying. She couldn’t talk, so my dad had to explain to us, so that we could understand, that my two sister’s and I weren’t going home. There would be no return flight. Our family’s life in Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa was terminated.

It has been four years. I have new friends, a new house, a new life, a new name. But when I was twelve I understood what I had done wrong, what I should have changed. I realized that I had taken my life for granted, all my friends, all the things I loved. It is hard for my friends to understand me. They don’t know what it is like to lose an entire future, a family. I had to grow up that day, I had to understand. And even now, I don’t know why I haven’t changed more. But I will never take for granted my life again. Because you never know what flight will be your last.

I have many names, and many titles. But the title I hold dear, the name that is the most precious to me, is rather silly. It is the name I was given by my friends, the name that is who I am. I am Milly, an African Child.

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