Today’s prompt: School trips. We all go on them. What trip do you remember the most? Where did you go & who was with you? How did you get there? Write a memoir post about a memorable school trip. Word limit is 600.
In May 1994 I finished my final year of high school, which culminated in a week-long annual “Senior Cruise” to St. Kitts, Granada, Tobago, St. Lucia, and St. Thomas. There were about 45 of us teenagers along with the principal, headmaster, their wives and a few other well-seasoned chaperones.
For me, the Senior Cruise was seven days of shedding my insecurities. Seven days where I left a small, scared girl behind; I didn’t pack her in my suitcase along with my purple bikini. Seven days where I and my classmates were allowed to consume alcohol on the cruise ship in the evenings (yes, a nightly drink limit was strictly enforced!). Lots of screwdrivers. The taste of them still haunts me.
The first night I sucked down my limit of cocktails in record time and made my way to the dance floor. I felt unusually uninhibited and let the music move through my body. Don’t assume that just because I was a New Orleans girl I was a total lush; in fact, I was pretty much a goody two shoes and also a lightweight. This, combined with the heaving and sighing of the ship on choppy waters resulted in my making a total mess of myself. But I didn’t care if I looked foolish. I was letting go, albeit temporarily.
Letting go of being bullied over the years and called “witch nose.”
Letting go of having a queer dad.
Letting go of the fear of college looming ahead, the fear of failure.
Letting go of the mean girls.
Letting go of never having been a cheerleader or Miss Popularity, of never having been on the Homecoming Court or noticed by any of the boys in our class.
Letting go of not liking Erin, of constantly berating myself and comparing myself to others and coming up short.
Letting go of all the shit that had been dragging me down for years.
And so I danced.
Until the high school principal, Mr. David, approached me. He tapped me on the shoulder and my eyes flew fully open from their previous half-mast position. Uh oh. I’d barely ever spoken to the man. What did I do?
“Are you alright?” he leaned quietly, fingering his moustache as he always did.
“Oh yes, I am!” I bobbed my head up and down, as a deep purple blush crawled up my neck to my face.
“Are you sure? Just wanted to check on you,” he said, looking concerned, but also perhaps slightly surprised as he backed away.
“I promise I’m okay,” I insisted in a confident voice. And then skittered to a booth where some of my friends were sitting. I clenched back tears though I’d done nothing wrong; I was just having fun, something most of those people had never really seen me do before. I was Miss Nerdy Nerderson, Miss Latin Club, Miss French Club, and last but certainly not least, Miss I-Make-Straight-A’s-in-Writing-So-Someone-Accused-Me-of-Sleeping-With-the-Teacher.
I froze for a minute, gathering my thoughts. What the fuck was I doing? I specifically hadn’t packed this shy, intimidated girl in my suitcase, so how the hell did she get here?
It was my fault. I must’ve let her sneak in somehow.
Everyone else at the table was consumed in chatter, but I’d disappeared inside myself. Again. Yet this time it was different, because I simultaneously saw myself from the outside. And I didn’t like what I saw.
I came here to dance, I thought.
And with that, I shoved the shy girl overboard and sashayed back out to the dance floor.