Making a permanent impression since 1994
November 23, 2005
Happiness and snow
By Samantha Perez
23, 6:56 p.m., on the road home, somewhere in Mississippi --
I canít remember who actually proposed the idea to take a
vacation, but we all decided that it would be best for us to take a little
holiday, some time to get away from everything that has been going on lately. No
FEMA, no school, no refugee existence. Just for a little while. Everyone, all my
friends, my parents, myself Ö we were all winding down. Itís going on three
months since the hurricane hit and all of this started. Everyone was
desperate for a break, so we decided that we would go to the
Every year during the summer, my parents and I head to the
This time, though, we were going in the late fall, something we had never done before. Weíve always gone in the middle of the summer, when everything is hot and green. This time, Mom and I hoped we would see snow.
We left our camper early on Saturday morning, and we
managed to reach Pigeon Forge,
What I like about snow is that itís magical. Snow is clean. I have only seen snow twice in St. Bernard, the first time when I was only two. But then last Christmas, it snowed again. I even made a little snowman and used the orange cap of a glue bottle for a nose. He stood around a foot high, and I used old black buttons for eyes.
It wasnít until yesterday that we finally saw snow. It had started the night before, high in the mountains. Then, we drove up the next morning, and it started to fall. Men were stopping cars to make sure they either had tire chains or 4-wheel drive to go on. We didnít, but we parked on the side, and I stood there in the snow.
It fell and flakes stayed in my hair. It was beautiful, and I know it doesnít mean anything to some people, but seeing the snow meant something special to me. Snow is from television, of happy Christmastime Hallmark movies where people are in love and happy. It means something good. It means warm cookies on Christmas morning and snowmen and Santa and reindeer. Snow is happiness, and happiness fell down from the sky, getting caught in my hair and falling on my face.
I needed this vacation, even though I honestly wasnít looking forward to it before we left. A lot of me that hadnít been happy since this summer finally had the opportunity to let go and heal ó thanks to a lot of things, including a friend of mine from Hannan, as well as my amazing friend Kelsy. Healing isnít always easy, but thereís always a way to do it. Anything is possible, whether it be hurricanes that swallow the Gulf or whether it be healing.
Itís interesting to see how different people handle
disasters in their lives. The hard disasters, like losing love or losing a home.
Some people I know have turned to friends and lovers, but friends and lovers can
be fickle. Others have turned to substances, because substances are always there
when friends may not be but betray the user.
I lost myself a lot before this vacation, even before the hurricane. I stumbled around for a long time, and it took the loss of my friendship with Michael to help me realize that the one person I truly need to depend on is myself. It took so much more ó this vacation, a talk with a friend, and some good music ó to help me make use of that lesson.
I found my feet again during this vacation. Iím going to
try to keep them ahead of me where I donít trip and fall again. I am my own
person, and right now, even though Iím heading home to a camper and a broken
heater and a bed where my feet hang off the edge, I am happy.
Iím so lucky to be able to write, to have the good
feeling words give me. I had that feeling again because I started really
writing, writing my own things, my own stories. I havenít done that in so
long, and it feels great to be sitting in the backseat of this car, thinking of
the stories I have in my head.
Whatever we learn will help us in the future. My friends and I who have been affected by this hurricane are never going to look at the life before the same way again. The days before the hurricane are precious to us now, like an old manís childhood as he looks back on life. But I know that the lessons I have come away with will help me in the future. I know that writing is going to help, whether writing for others or just for myself.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that healing takes time. Lots of time. Itís never easy to heal from something that hurts, but it can be done if you only believe it can. Healing takes courage, it takes strength -- and it takes a hell of a lot of Bon Jovi. No one said it would be easy. If they did, they lied. Itís just that simple.
And late tonight, when Iím back in our little camper, having taken my shower and run out of hot water and when wrapped in my throw blanket because itís too cold, Iíll be having a writing night of my own stories, and I will be happy.
Life isnít easy, but itís not an impossible game to
play. You just need to learn how.
Read Samantha Perez's
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