I left America one month after my fourteenth birthday. I left my parents, a younger brother and two younger sisters to live in Koln, Germany with an aunt and uncle and cousin I barely knew and hadn’t seen in years.
The idea thrilled me. I packed my two green suitcases, filled with excitement and anticipation. I was fearless. I was an adventurer.
I was a reader and a writer, an introvert, and an old soul. And I loved to travel. A five month trip to Europe sounded like the opportunity of a lifetime.
I boarded my flight wearing corduroy overalls, shoulder length, curly hair and an enormously heavy backpack filled to the brim with my ninth grade textbooks.
Saying goodbye to my baby sister, Summer, was the hardest part of that day. She had just turned two and was the love of my life.
I carried a journal, photos of my family and a wallet full of babysitting money, in addition to my novels and textbooks, and boarded the plane, shaken by goodbye but confident and eager to begin my adventure.
Only an ocean stood between me and the beginning of my European life.