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 couldn’t 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, I’ll 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, “You’re 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,
You’re 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
won’t. I left home a child and I would return an adult. I was all grown
Enc 1102, 8am
January 28, 2004