Abaco, The Bahamas — It was a maddening rush, that muggy summer morning, but we were finally ready to go. I was supposed to be at College of the Bahamas at 10:00 a.m. for Freshman Orientation, and it was already eight. Everyone knew what morning traffic was like in The Bahamas’ capital: insane! I dashed upstairs to my room to gather my things, and glanced at my dresser making sure I was leaving nothing behind and all the rush seemed to disappear. I stood there just remembering all the stories behind the objects and clutter accumulated on it. Everything else in my room was packed into boxes clearly marked. I hadn’t begun the task of unpacking them yet, though. I began to think back to all the good times I had had with my family and friends, each moment represented by a different and somewhat odd object present on my dresser.

The plastic, palm leaf that stands on the back of my dresser leans against the wall. I got the leaf about three years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not many parents choose Las Vegas as a family vacation spot but my parents weren’t other parents. I began to reminisce about the family trip that ultimately brought us closer together, not just for the four days we were there. Outside the hotel, we excitedly followed Mom and Dad inside. It was a flamboyant hotel. Extraordinary, modern architectural features coupled with sharp, structural angels and dazzling interior colors made for a powerful impression. As Mom and Dad checked us in, Christa, my sister, and I were absorbing everything like sponges. I can still recall just how expansive the hotel lobby was with its high ceilings, over-sized lounge chairs and neat stacks of magazines of a large, intricately carved, antique coffee table. The real star of the show, however, was the massive crystalline structure that glittered obscenely whenever light was reflected off it. To say I was awed was an understatement. We headed up to our rooms that were surprisingly homey and comfy. In the far corner of the room was a plastic palm tree. Unconcerned by its imitation, I plucked a palm leaf to treasure as a keepsake: a reminder of what I knew would be a great family vacation. For those four days, we did so many things. From parasailing, to going to an 80’s dance with Mom and Day, to dining at the world famous (and expensive!) Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Mom and Dad even sneaked us into a casino for a little fun for a while. We did it all, and we did it together.

Sighing as I returned my thoughts to present day, I notice the huge teddy bear and spiral card my classmates sent to me while I was in the hospital. Once again I reach into the memory banks of my mind and replay the events that led up to me being gifted with the stuffed animal last year. It was a cold, brisk November morning. The sun had gone into seclusion and storm clouds were making their presence known with low, rumbling thunder. Sporadically there would be bursts of lightning. There was nothing more I wanted to do than go back to my warm, snug bed. However, my cheer leading captain had other plans so; there I was trekking down my long slippery driveway to go to cheer practice. I thought I could make it down the slippery slow, but that day the law of physics and gravity won. Tumbling down the driveway, I landed in an odd, pretzel position with the intense pain to accompany. I ended up in the hospital for a week with a torn hamstring. Each passing day my classmates would send me one card that connected to the previous one, and the day I was released, they all came to the hospital to see me. They brought the huge teddy bear that is now sitting in my new home for the next four years.

When I packed up my belongings to move away from home, I was not bombarded with feelings of nostalgia, rather feelings of excitement. As I stood in the doorway of my new home, I could not fight off the waves of memories that washed over me. Those memories were fond memories, indeed.

By: Robertha Dean – McIntosh

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