The first time I remember holding my mother’s hand as she told me to let go, to not be fearful.
The second time I remember story telling on the reading carpet and snack sharing days.
The third time I remember trustworthy friends and playing tag on the baseball field.
The fourth time I remember choosing and discovering the truth.
The fifth time I remember making new friends: with new hopes and new promises.
The sixth time I remember people leaving, a new school, and unfamiliar places with unfamiliar names.
The seventh time I remember walking by myself, the scent of independence and freedom at the edge of my feet, butterflies growing in the pit of my stomach.
The eighth time I remember graduation and the impending doom of high school in the back of my brain.
8 grades. 8 years. I survived.