Ready or not; Here I Come

By , New Orleans, LA
How do you know when you are ready to leave home? For a week? Two weeks? A month? If no one tells you when you're ready, how do you know? Is it like one day you wake up and you are a different person? Is it a change overnight? I don't feel anything special. How do I know when I am ready? Why is it that I am a year older than my sister, and she is ready too? I am really ready?

I know my mom isn't ready. She has been thinking real hard about this. My dad is adamant. He won't let anyone tell him otherwise. I think that's because when he was little, other people always made up his mind for him. He sits with his hands on the table, staring straight into your eyes. That's when you know he is sure. His face tells everything. My mom sits behind the mounds of clothes, contemplating her decision. Her face says I don't know, unlike my dad's which yells its final. She can't look you in the eyes. It's like she is avoiding you.

You express your emotions from your face most of the time. Sometimes when you're really mad, or happy, your emotions come out of your mouth. Your face is like a painting. You can tell exactly what you are thinking from what your face looks like, it's a book without words. People try hard to disguise their emotions, but you can always tell by their face. Your face is the most important part of your body. Even though my mom doesn't say what she is feeling, you can tell by her face. You can tell by my face that I was ready.

It's nothing monumental, just the first day of sleep away camp. I really feel like a southerner, this was as north as I have ever been, to Vermont. It is an all girls camp focused on tripping, something that I have never done before. Everything is new, and I am in sensory overload. I am with my family; my mom, dad, brother, and sister. I have no idea what this is going to be like, I saw some pictures but that is it. The air is fresh and crisp and everyone is happy. I don't know if it's true happiness, sometimes people are just polite. You could tell from some of the faces that they were really happy because they were reunited with their friends. You would have thought they hadn't seen each other in ten years. I hope I am that happy when I come back next year.

I am in a sense of awe. Vermont is so much different than where I live. It's like two different planets, universes apart. Luckily, I have my sister, she is staying with me, but I have to be strong for her because I am older. I thought the day would never come for me to leave my parents for a whole month, but here it is, and I think I am ready.

Today I am ready. Today I am older than yesterday. Today is today, different from any other day. Taking your first steps on your own is the hardest. It's like walking without your mother's help. All these years I have been holding on, afraid to fall. The first step inside my cabin is the hardest. One two three, and I let go. Let go of all that is holding me back. Let go of my parents hands and walk by myself. Yes, I am ready. All kinds of different emotions flood into my head. Feelings that I never felt before, hidden deep in my soul, fly out and sing like precious melodies. Freedom, independence, strength, courage. It is like I can do anything. There also are the bad feelings, homesickness, loneliness, sadness that come out. Doubts began to fill my head. Four weeks is a long time. What if I get homesick? What if I never see my parents again? What if? What if? I can't think about that. I shove the evil thoughts in the back of my head, but one rings clear, What if I really like it here?

I take a look around my cabin. There are people everywhere. Clothes seem to be unfolding themselves. It's not what I thought I was going to be living in for the next four weeks. When I walk inside, I smell the fresh sent of wood as if the cabin is breathing and expelling the air around you. It's a fresh smell, it smells homey. I look around and see people's faces, their paintings. You can see all of their emotions on their faces. Some seem ecstatic, but those are the ones who have been here before. The ones who are new all have the same look on their face, Am I ready? I can already tell their personalities from their belongings. One person has about five huge duffle bags full of all her clothes. Seems like she is going to live here all of her life. Another has one lonely trunk full of different stickers of places that she wants to visit. I am suddenly concerned, what if I don't fit in?

My thoughts are interrupted by my mother calling my name. Sophie, she calls. I turn around and see her with her platform flip flops and her expensive purse that she just bought, with her designer sunglasses. Then I look outside. It looks like something right out of a painting, with the forested range of undulating mountains. It's like nothing I have ever seen before. The radiant blue, blue sky without a cloud in sight. I never thought that the sky was actually that blue. There was no end. The splendid array of mountains looks as if they were carved by hand. The ups and downs, the different shadows and colors, are so surreal I have to pinch myself to realize that I am not dreaming.

It's my mother who brings me out of this trance and I remember why I am here. She calls me over to my enormous pile of luggage that almost takes a crane to carry. My dad has already wrestled a bag over his shoulder, and my sister is guiding him to her cabin where her staff waits for her with open arms and gracious smiles. She is in the youngest cabin, in fact she looks like she is the youngest, well she is only eight. I remember what I was doing last summer when I was eight, and it sure didn't include going away to sleep-a-way camp. I slowly walk over to my colossal pile of luggage, and drag a bag to the porch of my cabin. There is an older person with one of those staff shirts waiting for me there and she introduces herself as Erica. She asks me where I am from. I tell her New Orleans, and she responds, 'Oh no way! That's where I am from too! There are only a few people from New Orleans from here and they all are related to me. I am so glad that you are from New Orleans! Where do you live?'
While she was talking to me, my mom walked up behind me and started telling her where we lived and where I went to school. I left them to go into the cabin where someone else was there with another one of those staff shirts. She says that her name is Marissa, and asks me to pick from a hat to see what bed I would get. Beds one, three, five, and six are open and all the others are filled with clothing from the other people in my cabin. I am hoping for bed number six because it's in the corner and there are three shelves instead of one. I close my eyes and pick. I pull out a wrinkled piece of paper that has a number six on it. Yes! 'What bed did you get?' I tell her number six, and she says that I am next to a girl named Mackenzie. She looks nice, with her radiant red hair. I put my bag down on my new bed and my mother comes up behind me with my other bag. She says that she has to leave because she has to get to the airport. I walk outside with her, and I see my dad and my brother waiting where my bags once used to be. I look really hard at them. My mom moves over to stand next to my dad. They look like puzzle with pieces missing, incomplete. My mother pulls her sunglasses from her head and puts them over her face. I can tell that she has tears running down her face. She holds on to my dad for support and she looks away from me. My brother is only four years old, so he just wants to run around. He is squirming around my dad and my dad lets go and he runs off. This is the part that I have been dreading for months, when I have to say goodbye. Am I ready to leave? I look at my sister, she appears distraught and confused. My sister has a hard time covering up her feelings; they always come through her face. I look my mother in the eyes. She looks back at me. I know she is having second thoughts, but it's too late and she knows it. Her lips start to tremble, and she tells us, 'I'll miss you.' Then my sister and I both run to her and hug her. We know that she will miss us, and we will miss her too. Its now when I feel all the emotions coming at me like an atom bomb. And suddenly I realize that it's okay to express your feelings on my face, and timid tears fall down my face. All of the worrying and stress that I have been feeling are let out with a deep breath, and suddenly I feel free, and ready to take on the world. There is nothing that is holding me back. I have the opportunity of a lifetime and I am going to grab it by the horns and get everything possible out of it. And I let go of my mom and wipe the tears off my cheeks and tell her 'I'll miss you too.'

I walk with my family to our rental car, a silver dodge that smells like smoke, and watch as they drive off. I look at all of the other campers and I see them with huge grins on their faces, not teary-eyed gloomy faces like me and my sister. I wipe away my tears and smile. I smile for all of the good times I have had with my family. And for all of the great experiences that have yet to come. I watch their car drive away slowly along the dirt road, and I realize that I was ready all along. Why was I second guessing myself? Sometimes you have to just go with your gut, even if there is no rhyme or reason to it. Trust yourself, and you will go farther than you ever thought you could.





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