I was devastated. No, I was not sobbing, nor was I shaking. I didn’t feel intense pain or heartache. I felt something worse: nothing. I felt numb, completely numb. My name was not on the list of the Junior Varsity Poms squad. I lived and breathed Poms for almost a whole year of my life, and now all the pieces of memories were shattered by this deep emptiness. I went through the end of freshman year in a haze, a hypnotic state in which I never felt truly alive. The numbness was present when summer began, but I was able to push it to the back of my mind, hidden, to be dealt with another day.
Soon enough, that day came. July was winding down and the humid days of August were beginning. I sat on my suitcase waiting outside my church, sweating uncontrollably, while parents said their last good-byes. The church youth and I were going to a Native American reservation in Cass Lake, Minnesota to help impoverished families. My companions spoke of the times ahead, of swimming, hiking and most importantly, helping. All I could think of was where I wasn’t: Poms camp. Just as it so happens, the week I was going to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Minnesota was the same week thirteen school-spirited sophomores left for a competition. I felt the emptiness arise. Yet, I put on a brave face and loaded into a too-crowded van of boys, girls, adults, and luggage on my way to Minnesota.
What I found surprised me. In a village surrounded by dirt roads and pine trees, I saw houses built on rocks rather than foundation. I saw houses with falling roofs and broken windows. I saw rabid dogs, broken people, and broken families. In that same week, I saw children from these homes whose smiles could light up a room. The lives of these young girls and boys were seemingly crumbling on top of the jagged rocks on which they were built. Yet even when their lives were falling apart, these children had such a love for living. I was blessed with a seven day period to work with the families of Cass Lake. Every day I feel more grateful for the time spent with them. My mission in Cass Lake was to help the natives, but in reality, I think they helped me more than they realized. In retrospective, if I had to choose Poms camp or Minnesota, the choice is obvious.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. When one door closes, another door opens, when it is least expected. I believe that everyone will always end up where they were supposed to be. Poms camp would have been exciting, but in my life, that’s not where I was meant to be. I was meant to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dirt roads and pine trees; falling windows and crumbling lives. Cass Lake, Minnesota was exactly where I was supposed to be.
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