Graduation and Beyond
One thing about children is that they adapt, they begin to establish a routine and learn to create normalcy. I had finally accepted that I just would not like life in Florida, and refused to change my mind. I couldn’t find the foods I loved, the fruits tasted like trash after years of grabbing them from trees, the warm of the sun on their skin and in the juice, and meat in the grocery store was not fresh. The seasonings and spices that my pallet had grown accustomed to were not within a 50 mile radius, unless you could grow them. Tampa it seems, is where you could find the closest sliver of culture since it had a large Cuban population.
By this time I had started driving, was working at a hospital in the dietary department as well as at Checkers slinging fast food for that mighty minimum wage dollar. I was determined to support myself, and have somewhat fashionable clothing, proper shoes, my own phone extension with the double ring, and a pager. As the month of May approached, I continued to be confused about what direction I wanted my life to take. I knew I would graduate, yet my early academic struggles impacted my GPA. I wanted to go to college to get out of Spring Hill, but I never had much of a plan on what I would do once I arrived. I enjoyed many activities but never really focused on one specifically. Dance, theater arts, modeling, chorus, sports, creative writing, public speaking, I dabbled in it all and enjoyed everything. True to my heart, I love the arts, music, writing, cooking, photography and traveling.
I don’t recall expressing a desire to join the Air Force , but when a parent decides that it is time for you to go because your 18th birthday is approaching and they have explained that they have no money to pay for college, what choice do you have? Recently I came across a few college acceptance letters and it seems that I picked speech pathology as my major, this was surprising to me because I have no memory of ever desiring a career as a Speech Pathologist, yet I have spent 20 years as a special educator. If I was parenting me, knowing me as I do now and knowing that 17 year old girl, I would have given her a one way ticket to Africa, Asia or Europe with an opportunity to study and work abroad.
It will come as a surprise to many because I was successful as a service member, but being an airman in the Air Force was probably as far away from my authentic self as I could get. Despite my feelings, it was my next move and it seemed like I would be able to get a bit of traveling under my belt based on the sales pitch from the recruiter that I didn’t fully understand at the time. I took the ASFAB, anxiously awaited my results, and learned that I would be leaving in November of 1994, with a guaranteed job as an air traffic controller. I wouldn’t be getting on any planes, I would be assisting them land, or so I thought. With this hurdle jumped, I was ready to enjoy the remainder of senior activities including senior prom (which I did not have a date for), grad nite (which I almost missed because I was arrested) and graduation ceremonies which also included us finishing school two weeks early. Graduation was bitersweet, my grandparents flew in from California, and those of us who had bonded in friendship walked across the stage with celebratory tears in our eyes. We had achieved something, those of us with foreign born and dual citizenship passports, speakers of other languages, and blended cultures had made it to the end. Sadly, it’s the what happens next that unnerved me most……..
Much love from the brown girl, sharing snippets of her unnerved life for Blogtober. Keep writing, even if you think nobody is reading, you would be surprised to learn that they are!
Nyri~The Unnerved Traveler