Chronologically I am to the point in my story where I am preparing for high school graduation. Though graduating always seemed to be held over my head. I was told that if I wasn’t mature enough or if I was going to be arrogant then I wouldn’t graduate. My entire senior year was spent working (I had been working since I was 15 and a half because I had finished all the high school curriculum), and going in to the school to write essays. These essays were to prove to the authorities that I was spiritually and emotionally ready to graduate. I was totally unsure of what the criteria for subject matter was, but that was common. Minimal instruction given, maximum punishment for being wrong.
The pastors had a senior trip planned for us (myself, Charlie, and Henry). We are going to Disney World. We are to raise the money ourselves. My parents had hardly any money. I felt so guilty asking my extended family to help because we rarely spoke. Even though the pastors discouraged communication with family outside of the church, when it came to asking for money they were okay with us talking. I felt like a total rat, but was able to get some money from family and saved the rest from money earned working for the businesses run by the church. At this point I was painting, cleaning, washing cars, and babysitting. Though I did not get paid for babysitting. I was really excited for the senior trip, and so was Charlie. Lately I have felt a distance between us, and I am hoping that we can bond while in Florida.
Four adults accompanied the three seniors on our trip: Pastor M and his wife, as well as the associate pastor serving as principal at the time, and his wife. I babysit their children almost every day. We are all looking forward to a small vacation and some fun.
My senior trip was actually quite amazing. I have very fond memories. We went not only to Disney World, but also an alligator farm, and Kennedy Space Center. I really enjoyed the learning aspect everywhere we went. I soaked in all the information I could at the Kennedy Space Center. I loved being able to walk all day and take in the sights. My favorite ride at Disney was the Tower of Terror. I made everyone go on it four times, then they told me no more. I got pictures of myself with Goofy dressed as an artist, and Winnie the Pooh. I loved Epcot center because I was able to learn about various cities around the world. There were restaurants throughout Epcot, I ate in Morocco, it was delicious! I felt very safe at Disney World, it truly felt like the happiest place on earth.
Charlie acted strange the entire trip. During the beginning of the trip, I would reach out for his hand while we were walking. Even though hand-holding was not something we did normally, I thought it would be nice during our trip. Every time he would push my hand away. I was having a great time in spite of this, but wondered why he did this. Later, after we were home, he told me he was punishing me for some joke I had made before we left about him never wanting to hold my hand. This would make me so mad when things like that would happen. I always felt like I was never able to joke around because I would be punished. And yet I was constantly being made the joke of everything. The trip was near the end of our relationship anyway, I knew he was pulling away, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be with him anyway. I would find out later in the summer that he had another girl he was seeing secretly behind my back. Of course everyone else knew and I was the last to find out.
This trip I also got to experience the Heimlich maneuver, not giving, but receiving. Everyone was in the pool splashing around, and I got out of the pool to get a snack. Here I am sitting on the side of the pool eating and I laugh at something funny (I don’t remember now what it was). Of course, I inhale part of my cookie and start choking. The real type of choking like no air in or out. I walk over to the wall trying to lean over and dislodge the cookie. No luck. So I walk over to the edge of the pool and clap my hands above my head to get attention. When everyone looks at me I point to my mouth. Everyone laughs, thinking I am being funny. At this point I am seeing spots. Henry says “oh my gosh she’s choking!” and jumps out of the pool. He runs over to me and starts the Heimlich maneuver. I remember him telling me that he had learned CPR and choking techniques last month. Thank goodness! So he dislodges the cookie, but doesn’t know it, and continues the maneuver. It is all I can take to say “I’m okay!” and he says “I’m sorry”. But really, I was and still am so grateful that he did that. My ribs were super sore for two days, but I was happy to be alive. Also, super pissed at everyone else for just laughing at me and not even realizing my distress. The choking incident was a lesson for me about who I could trust during a health emergency.
I was grateful to have made it through the senior trip without one “lesson” pointed out during the week. And the only wake up call following the trip was Charlie pointing out to me that he was punishing me the whole time by not holding my hand. I didn’t care, that meant I had two hands up in the air to enjoy the rides!