It was my last night at home with my family. My mother went out of her way to make my favorite meal, barbeque chicken. We all sat quietly as if I would never see them again. The time seemed to fly that night as my sister and I washed the dinner dishes and cleared off the table. My father and brothers were in their usual places, watching the evening news. There was very little conversation as we all headed for bed. I knew tomorrow was my big day. Everyone has to grow up sometime, but not everyone realizes they are grown up, until they get their wake up call.
It was a dark dreary night raining continuously and storming as if something were telling me not to go. My bag was all packed and waiting by the front door. I lay there in my bed knowing that this was my last night of comfort and serenity in the safety of the home I grew up in.
I have never been away from home for more than that week at summer camp. I was scared and couldnt sleep. The whole world seemed to open up to me that night. I tossed and turned listening to the crickets chirp, and the rain hitting the roof. All I could think about was what lie ahead of me. I wondered if I had made the right choice, but there was no way to back out now.
My alarm rang at six a.m. I heard my parents rustling about downstairs getting ready to escort me to the airport. The smell of fresh coffee seemed to call to me. I rushed down stairs as usual and waited impatiently for it to stop brewing. My mother quickly pulled the cups out of the cupboard and called to my father to start the car.
The road to the airport seemed short. My father pulled into the fire lane to let my mother and me out where he could park the car. I waited in line to check in my baggage and I was trembling in my shoes as the attendant told us, You are at Gate 6 that is around the corner and to the right. We walked slowly. My plane was not to depart until nine a.m.
The time came and they began boarding the plane. It was all I could do to mutter Goodbye, Ill write as soon as I can. My mother just kissed me quickly and my father hugged me tight. I started to walk down the gangway, and I saw my mother drop to her knees in tears. I knew if I was ever going to leave, I could not go back; so I just walked straight ahead. I quickly found my seat, covered my face, and cried. As the plane departed, I felt a huge knot in my stomach. It was a nine hour flight to Orlando, Florida. The longest nine hours of my life. I felt like a scared and lonely child. I shut my eyes, and the next thing I remember was waking up to hear the flight attendant say, Youre here.
The wait for the bus seemed to last well into the night. There were several of us waiting for the bus when it finally pulled up to the curb. We had a two hour drive ahead of us which seemed to go pretty quick. I met a lot of new friends like myself, leaving home for the first time. The bus pulled into a long driveway and stopped. A tall, black man stepped on the bus and yelled at us to get off and stand in a single file line. I remember his words just as clear today, Welcome to the United States Navy, Youre children now, but in eight weeks you will leave here adults!
It was at that moment it hit me, my wake up call if you will. I knew there was no turning back, no parents to help me. I will make it or I wont. I left home a child and I would return an adult. I was all grown up.
Enc 1102, 8am
January 28, 2004