Ever since my middle school trip I have desired to experience the unexpected. I get excited easily and am and always will be a free-spirited child. As an adolescent my father constantly repeated, “It is better to listen and learn than learn to listen” and I live by that. Expectation can be restrictive. Like a good parent, he did keep a close account of my whereabouts so I was delighted when he approved and signed my permission slip for the ten day trip to Washington D.C. and New York City. With their signature came the faint sound of shackles breaking.
It was a surprise to everyone but me when the announcement came from our English teacher that the trip was about two weeks away. I had spoken to her before class and it has been hard to contain the secret from those around me. My classmates asked urgent questions about what we could expect upon arrival and who would be going with us. I sat quietly and listened, as is usually my strategy. My three best friends were much like me and had already begun to send silent signals through their sky blue eyes. Later on, we gathered on the trampoline at Taylor’s house with pen and paper at the ready. “What about the Statue of Liberty?” I said. “Times Square!” exclaimed Taylor. Both of these landmarks represented independence and freedom and this was the recurrent theme throughout this year and forward throughout my life. We had received a pamphlet of the guide company that would be leading the groups through the cities, which we gazed at for several hours thereafter.
Although Washington was fascinating and New York City was exciting, the trip resulted in much drama and conflict. My best friends and I were fighting the entire time and I got lost in New York City and was banished to the bus for most of the trip. The Statue of Liberty was closed, and there was an huge event in Times Square, which prevented in us really getting nearby. Naturally, I was disappointed that the image I had before leaving on the charter bus was not what resulted at all. However, sites like the viewing of the Iwo Jima monument left lasting impressions. I had never though about the significance of those places before arriving there. Everything that I suffered during the trip caused me to be introspective about my character and therefore provided me with a positive influence. Of course, at the time I thought my life was over. I had to go through several similar experiences later on before I understood that failing is important because life is always changing. I wrote in my journal from that day forward, reflecting constantly on what information and knowledge I could get from unexpected things. I viewed this trip as a rite of passage into adulthood and a molding of my character. All the preparation meant little to the inevitable unpredictability of life.