My only source of light I had was a flashlight clutched in my small hands, flicking around the pink tent in which I was holed up inside. I heard a small ruffling coming from outside the tent and I jumped, facing the flashlight towards the sound. It was only my small teddy bear, falling over on its side. I sighed a breath of relief and turned my flashlight from Beary Johnson, only to hit a dark figure outside my tent. I let out a shriek and covered my head with my arms, the flashlight flinging from my hand. There was a loud laugh and the sound of my tent being unzipped, “Tay, it’s only me.” I looked up warily to see only my dad’s head through the tent. I rubbed the tears out of my eyes and crawled to him and he swooped me up into his arms. “I would never let a scary old monster snatch you,” he said, carrying me to the couch, “That’s my job.” He suddenly began tickling me with a fake monster voice and I was laughing to the point I was crying.
I remember those summers spent with my dad, running around the house, screeching blissfully as he chased me around the sharp corners and watching Jumanji for the third time in a row that day. Those were times I cherished greatly; leaving Virginia and my mom for a summer full of fun and excitement. My dad spoiled me beyond my greatest 5-year-old dreams. We would go to water parks, get soft serve every day, go shopping for whatever I wanted – needless to say, I loved summer. And after my summer with my dad was well spent, I would return back to my mom.
I would always be able to adjust easily, flowing comfortably back and forth between parents, just knowing that I had both of them. When anyone asked where my home was, I always had two answers for them. My parents separation had become as normal for me as a fluffy multi-layered pink and black Hello Kitty skirt with matching knee-high Hello Kitty socks and light-up sketchers. It was my routine. But it was the summer of 2011 my schedule was flipped upside down and I never returned to Virginia at the end of the summer.
Being kept from returning to Virginia forced me to grow up. I learned that life wouldn’t always cater to me. I was scared beyond belief that my entire world was turning on its axis, that everything I had come to know was crumbling all around me. It was an extremely hard time for me, learning to adjust to a new life, and going to a school where I knew no one. I spent every night calling my mom on the phone, asking her when I would see her again, tears running down my face. It took me some time to get used to living in Florida. I met tons of people, I stepped out of my boundaries and did things I was never able to do in Virginia. I roller skated with my friends and had grand birthday parties I had once dreamed about. While I missed Virginia and my mom, I adjusted to life in Florida and overcame my sadness and fear. It was a huge change and hadn’t come to me easy, but it helped me become the person I am today.