Tuesday, July 24, 2012

20SB Blog Swap: Childhood Summer Vacation

Hey guys! I've got something a bit different for you today. 20SB are doing one of their regular blog swaps, and considering it's the middle of winter here, I figured that it was an EXCELLENT time to write about summer vacations from back in the good old days! 

I was lucky enough to be paired with Teacher Girl, whose blog I've been following for ages! She's got a great story for you guys about her favourite childhood vacation. Meanwhile, I'm over at her blog talking about Roald Dahl audiobooks and how watching the cricket led to child labour. You should check it out! Hell, y'all should check out her blog full stop, because it's great.

Teacher Girl is a 20-something anonymous life style blogger who writes at www.teachergirlblogs.com. There, she deals with everything from being a high school English teacher and freelance photographer, to dating and the uncertainty of life in her 20′s. She is sarcastic, funny, passionate, and kind-hearted. In her free time she loves writing, taking pictures, dancing, eating, sleeping, and traveling. Oh, and she might be a tad obsessed with her cat.

I can remember the last few days of school leading up to summer as a child. We would all complain about how hot the weather had gotten and what our plans were for the vacation. I was always instantly jealous when my friends spoke about their plans to travel and go to places far away. My family was poor, and we pretty much always stayed around home.

The summer I was twelve though, my mom sent me to New York, my birthplace (we left when I was seven), alone. I will always remember this summer for many reasons. It was the first time I felt “grown-up.” I flew on the plane alone, I made plans to stay with various friends’ families for a series of days, and I was completely responsible for myself.

For the first part of that summer I stayed with my mom’s best friend (and my former pre-school teacher) in the heart of the city. It was amazing because she went to work all day and I had her Manhattan apartment to myself. I explored the neighborhood of the Upper East Side and spent a ridiculous amount of time people watching from her window. After a few days, I was off to my friend Samara’s house, a penthouse apartment that took up the entire floor of an amazing building overlooking central park. Her rich mother kept us occupied with bagels and the computer game version of “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego,” which we played on Samara’s bright orange Macintosh desktop computer.

After Samara’s, I spent the last part of my time there with my childhood best friend Mia on Long Island. We went exploring each day, and it was in those wooded areas on the island, on an old abandoned mattress, that I smoked my first cigarette ever. I also watched MTV for the first time (my mother didn’t allow it) and fell in love with Rap and R&B music, “Mo Money, Mo Problems” becoming our summer anthem. Her mother took us to Manhattan, and we explored and went shopping. I purchased my first pair of non-kid size jeans, a size zero pair of light washed Levi’s, and some of my very first CDs. In the summer afternoons we played in her backyard, running through the sprinklers and catching fireflies in mason jars. I had never been happier in my life.

On my finals days in New York, I had one last endeavor planned: I was going to see my real father. I don’t remember how I got in touch with him, but I somehow made plans for him to pick me up from Mia’s house. In the car, I didn’t know what to say to this man that I hadn’t seen in 10 years, and so I made small talk, showing him my report card with straight A’s in the hope that he’d be impressed and proud. I asked him if he knew when my birthday was, convinced he must not have known since I’d never received a card or a gift, but he did know and that hurt more. He took me to his apartment and I met his then girlfriend (now wife and mother of their two kids) and I marveled at his big TV and nice car (we were broke and he never paid his child support because he always claimed poverty in court).

He took me to his brother’s house, my uncle, and I met him and some of my cousins. Then he took me to a movie, “Men in Black,” and we didn’t talk because you don’t talk in movies. It was then I realized that this man didn’t want to talk to me, because who takes their daughter they haven’t seen in 10 years to the movies. When the film was over, he gave me $20 and left me at the mall since Mia was meeting me there. I would only ever see him one more time after that moment and he never bothered to keep in touch.

A few days later I went home, forever changed by those summer experiences. I wore my jeans on the first day of seventh grade, and I felt powerful. I hoped in my heart that I would go back one day to live, perhaps for college, in the city that had changed me in so many ways.

Although it has been fourteen years since that summer and I have never lived in New York again (by the time I went to college it didn’t make sense for a lot of reasons for me to go there), I am still a frequenter of the city. My family and many friends still reside there, and every time I visit I am enchanted. I am home.

Thanks, Teacher Girl! I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. I'm hoping 20SB does another swap soon, because I can't wait to read all the different stories that have come out of this one.

And for now, I'm off to see if I can find a version of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" online, because I loved the crap out of that game, and had completely forgotten about its existence until now I read TG's post!! 

K xx


  1. Sounds like a great vacation (minus the stuff about your dad, but at least you found out where you stood with him). I went to NYC for the first time last year, I can't even imagine going as a 12-year-old.

  2. Awesome! I always fantasized about going to NYC when I was younger; but I never got the opportunity. But I played that same Carmen San Diego game!!!!!! Loved it! Now I have the song in my head...

  3. I'm sorry about your dad. Some people are just not very nice, I guess. But it sounds like the rest of that summer was really good for you, and definitely an adventure :-)

    How weird, I was just having a conversation with Ness today about Carmen Sandiego!

  4. When I moved to the U.S. to get married I left my birth family, including my 6-year old nephew and my 3-year old niece. That was 13 years ago. I have a 12-year old son and a 7-year old daughter now, and despite how rarely I get to see my niece and nephew (we're talking a couple of weeks once every 5-6 years) I still love them dearly. I love my son and daughter, but I had to give up my niece and nephew, I had to give up my whole family in order to get a family of my own.

    So I have a somewhat more unique perspective in reading TeacherGirl's tale.

    I suspect TeacherGirl's biological father of yesteryear had no clue what to do with his 10-year old daughter. I don't doubt that he loved her because he knew when her birthday was (I can tell you when my nephew's birthday is but I can never remember my niece's), and he probably regretted the time he had lost, but I'm betting he was a happily, unmarried guy (who liked it that way, at the time) and as such he simply had no idea what to do with a 10-year old daughter, how to even talk to her, what to talk to her about. So he played it safe and arranged to spend time with her where he didn't have to talk to her. I'm betting he has mixed feelings when he thinks of that day. He's happy that he got to see her, but it kills him because he missed an opportunity to get to know her. Because maybe if he had taken her for ice cream or something, and talked with her, maybe she would have become part of his life.

    Look at it this way.

    After TeacherGirl's visit he married his girlfriend and now has two kids with her. That meant after TeacherGirl's visit...something changed. Maybe not immediately, but after her visit her dad settled down and became a father, so I'm thinking the visit from his daughter hit him pretty hard.

    He still played the role of "deadbeat dad" to TeacherGirl's mom, but with a wife and children of his own maybe he needed to in order to support his own family. Perhaps if he had given money up to TeacherGirl's mom his own family would have suffered.

    I'm not sure TeacherGirl's memory is an accurate judge of size because the way I remember it, things were always bigger when I was a kid.

    I remember candy bars being so much bigger when I was a kid, icecreams too. The swings at my primary school? Last time I went home and stopped by, they were so much smaller than I remembered them being.

    So that giant TV and the big car, maybe they were bigger than what TeacherGirl had at the time, but maybe they weren't big-big.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend her dad or the choices he made, but I don't think it's right to hate him for what he did. Instead, we should try to understand him. Understand him and be sad for him, because he lost a daughter who he can never get back.

    My sister came to visit me last Christmas. She came with my brother-in-law and my niece, but my nephew stayed home. I'm not really his uncle anymore. I mean I am, but in title only. But it still tore me up that he never came to visit. I don't have a nephew anymore.


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