8,512 Miles

October 4, 2016

There’s nothing more exciting than going on a trip as a young one. Although this wasn’t my first rodeo, sleep was not an option the night before. I packed weeks ago waiting for this day to come. Today was the day that I would be leaving the country for an entire summer on a journey to Thailand. I had recently reached the age of 13, so in my mind anything was possible. I had high expectations for this trip and would settle for nothing less than an extravagant vacation.

The planning of this trip was quite spontaneous, considering we planned an international vacation in the matter of g2 weeks. I’ve been to Thailand in the past, but those memories faded away as I got older. I got comfortable in my window seat as soon as I got on the plane. The jet lag was something that I was not looking forward to after sitting in a confined space for nearly a day. When I heard the pilot announce he was ready for take off, I looked over at my mom with the biggest grin I could form. I wanted her to realize how grateful I was for her to take me on this trip in the first place. We sat back in our seats and watched as many movies possible before we eventually fell asleep. Before I knew it, I looked out the window and realized this was no longer Central New York. We reached our destination after several bags of stale pretzels, screaming children, snoring elders, and a stiff neck that would last for days.

I hopped off the plane and immediately had regrets about my outfit choice. The scorching sun of Southeast Asia made our summer look like winter. As I got out of the car and walked towards my family's home, I smelled the foreign air. The scent of the seafood market and zesty spices lingered all around. My mouth was already watering when I imagined all the food I would be eating within the next couple of months. Pizza and spaghetti was no longer an option in this second-world country.

As I entered the house, a swarm of unfamiliar faces rushed in my direction. It was an overwhelming experience, but still filled me with joy when even strangers gathered for the arrival of my mom and me. Little did I know, the “strangers” that were yelling in my face in a different language was actually my family! I realized that it's been awhile since I've been to Thailand, but I didn't think this many people would remember me.

From the moment I entered the country, my schedule was quite hectic. Different family members wanted their fair share of quality time with my mother and me. I didn’t mind at all because I loved the attention. I was treated like royalty and cherished each moment. My jam packed itinerary included beaches, museums, deserts, markets, and many other exotic places. I was thrilled about everything that was happening so quickly, but also sleep deprived.
I craved nothing more than to talk to my friends back home, but also realized that the different time zones made that hard to do. More days passed as I watched as my friends enjoy the summer of their lives, while I was just a bystander on the other side of the screen. I watched before my eyes as even my closest friends seemed to have replaced me. I didn’t want to let anything ruin my vacation so I stood idle and refused to be a part of any confrontation.

As the number of days in Thailand slowly started to dwindle, I did some reflections on my vacation one night. I layed in bed and thought of the positives and negatives of my journey. The result of this trip caused tension between me and my closest friends due to the lack of communication. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for us all to reconcile, but I will still never be a part of those crazy summer night memories they still speak of. This trip made me realize that I don’t need my friends to define who I am as a person. I create who I am everyday as I learn and move on from my mistakes. Travelling to Thailand was my way of showing the world how powerful individuality can be. Growing up happens to everyone at different times in their lives, for me, it took an eye-opening experience to mature into the person I am today.

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