While many of you were heading to Mexico or California for spring break, I was bundled up in parkas, seal rubber and sheep’s wool with myriad Dan Brown thrillers and Milk Duds for fortification. And my father. I realize that to you cool kids, this sounds lame or nerdy. I had my own doubts.
Before getting on the plane, I remember the social ridicule I faced after making the same trip to Connecticut in seventh grade. Trembling and in tears (either because I had watched “Final Destination” the night before or because I had to sit next to the most obnoxiously smelly man on the planet), we departed from the sun - literally.
We flew into Hartford, Connecticut, where my cousin took us to my aunt and uncle’s house. Everywhere I looked there was a satellite TV. I have never experienced coming home and flipping on MTV, HBO or, my favorite, the History Channel ... I was in heaven!
A couple of days into the trip my mimi, Dad, and I went up to visit the college I’ll be attending, Mount Holyoke, a liberal-arts college with 2,000 young women. We were there to investigate the whole financial-aid scene and were hoping for a hefty aid package, but instead found that we had fallen short by $8 million (not really, but we were devastated).
As we were walking out of the Hogwarts-esque financial-aid building, I turned to my dad and said, “I can always go somewhere else, so don’t worry.” My parents have four kids, my father is a librarian, and my mom’s a minister - we don’t have trillions of dollars.
My dad just said, “Bunky, if we have to work to pay off the loans until we are blue in the face, so be it. You have worked so hard to get into this college, and it means something to work so hard for education.” And with that (cue “Glory, Glory Hallelujah”), he turned to me and I saw a halo, complete with golden wings, as he soared up into the heavens ... well, it was more like he slipped and fell on the icy steps.
I returned to my relatives’ fine estate and did not even fiddle with the remote control. Instead, I sat and talked and laughed and cried with the people I’ve missed out on my whole life. I listened, and they listened back. It was like one of those picturesque family reunions that make everyone sick except for the family. My dad later revealed to me that another good reason for me attending school on the East Coast is that I’ll be able to spend more time with these long-lost family members.
I have never received a car, iPod, or the other lavish tools of an American teenager. Not until my trip to Essex, Connecticut did I find out what sustains my soul, other than a swirl cone at McDonald’s and a good prank with my friend Vanessa. But when it comes to either having a car or being buried in snow and being blue in the face for eternity, I think I would choose the latter, Smurf face and all.
I realize that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, which is what I like. But you all can have your tans and convertibles if that is your “spring break,” your paradise. I’ll take my time with my father reading The Da Vinci Code next to Smelly McSmellerson on a flight out of Phoenix.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.