“Summer isn’t a true summer in New England,” she said after returning home from an adventure. “You want to experience summer? Then go to Colorado or Utah. You don’t get much (sometimes nothing) of a summer sitting in Boston or New Jersey.” Saying so, she began her story. Abby was a city girl from Boston, but she preferred her summers to be quiet and peaceful. She wanted to be away from the loud, noisy city traffic. While other 14 and 15 year olds went on vacations and camps, Abby preferred to be alone in her room. She liked listening to music and writing in her journal. She had already had a rough year of peer pressure in school. Now that summer was here, she wanted time for herself.
School had officially closed for summer. Abby’s life wasn’t as normal as everyone would wish. While other kids would be jumping up and down in excitement for summer, Abby was upset that school would shut down for two whole months. Abby loved her school very much because it was her only escape from problems at home. She could be a kid for 6 whole hours and nothing bothered her. Her mom, Jenna, single-handedly struggled to support her daughter and herself. They were both a team, but Abby deserved to be a kid too. Summer had officially begun, but there wasn’t anything exciting about it. Abby felt the monotonous life beginning to haunt her. She didn’t want to wake up and face the harsh reality of not having enough money for food or clothes at home. Instead of playing or going to movies, she was forced to find a summer job.
“Why on earth would a kid like you want to work? It’s summer. Go have fun!” Even the pizza man turned her down when she went to find work. She was willing to work for whatever little pay she was offered. Abby couldn’t continue watching her mother struggle; while she wanted to help, she was battling her own issues any normal teenager would face and this made life for Abby all the more difficult. She went to the movie store and they turned her down too. She was way too young to be hired by anyone. She was losing her childhood in the process of stressing herself. What could she do? What could Jenna do help them both? They were both fighting internal struggles. Summer was supposed to be a time for them to bond, but that didn’t happen. They couldn’t afford to go anywhere together for a vacation.
Every late afternoon on her way back from job hunting, Abby would find people sitting on on their porches/backyards reading books, playing music, barbecuing, and sipping on lemonade. “Gosh! how awesome would it be to have our own home some day,” she thought. Summer in the city was loud and noisy, but it was still summer and the quietness at home is what gave her comfort when she needed it most. Nighttime was her favorite. That was when she could sleep peacefully, or dream for sometime after writing out her thoughts in her journal. No one would disturb her. All the problems could wait till the morning. She would be up at midnight writing stories, her wishes, and dreams in life. She could hear the crickets chirping outside, this was the pure feeling of summer. If only she could have a proper home instead of the attic in an old house she was living in. She had the perfect vision of her dream house. It would be white with blue windows, with a porch and wind chimes hanging in the entrance that would make make music each time the breeze swept past her house. There would be wooden chairs on the porch with cup holders for her drinks and she could sit there all night reading and sharing stories with her friends and family. She didn’t know how long it would take to get the dream house, but it was the only hope that enabled her to survive within a gloomy atmosphere.
One day, Jenna decided to send Abby to a camp organized by their church group. It was a week-long sports camp which was going to be held 45 minutes away from their home. Jenna had to arrange rides for Abby because they didn’t have a car. She spoke with a fellow church member who agreed to let Abby stay over their house for the duration of the camp as her kids were also enrolling in the camp. The lady’s name was Linda; she had a daughter, Keya, and a son, Bobby. Abby was a little excited, but she was worried for her mother because she was Jenna’s only support. She didn’t even have a cell phone like other kids did to stay in touch with their parents. “Have fun!” Jenna hugged her daughter and watched Linda’s car drive away.
Keya’s room was huge and Abby was grateful to be sharing it. She had so many trophies arranged beautifully on a shelf that was dedicated to her lifetime accomplishments. “You see this?” Keya showed a trophy from her chess tournament the previous summer, “I won this last year…and this, is my ribbon I won for horse riding.” Abby didn’t even have a fraction of accomplishments that Keya did. Her mom couldn’t afford to pay the rent let alone send Abby to extracurricular activities outside school. “So did you get swimming clothes?” Keya was pulling out her new bathing suit. Yikes! Abby didn’t have one, nor was she comfortable in her growing body to wear a bathing suit. She just had a T-shirt and a pair of shorts that she would wear to camp the next day and swim in them too. A new week was going to begin, and although Abby wasn’t too excited about it, she hoped for the best and looked forward to start camp.
(Stay tuned for Part 2!)