I am going to tell you about a rather wonderful, yet fleeting experience I had the summer before senior year. From the outside looking in, it could have been the experience of any 17-year-old. That spring I had been accepted to the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, a prestigious program, and I was ecstatic. All my hard work had finally paid off, all the English classes, poetry contests, and writing workshops where I was the only one under 35, and then the only girl who didn't carve gnomes in her arm with a butter knife in her spare time while eating a box of doughnuts.
The best part, though, was that I'd be spending five weeks away from home. No parents and no smelly little brothers rolling all over my bed. I awaited those weeks in joyful anticipation. Sure, I'd be spending most of my summer writing and sleeping in some strange dorm room (I was new to this concept since I had never been the summer-camp kind of kid), but I had this gut feeling that it would be a very positive experience.
And it was. Oh, how it was.
It wasn't just the fact that I had my first taste of college life - you know, sleeping in dorms, doing my own laundry, cleaning a toilet for the first time. And it wasn't just the fact that I was surrounded by talented, driven people who understood my feelings about wanting to leave South Carolina and return to New York. They knew that if you want to do certain things, you can't stay in your small town forever. And it just felt so good to have people understand that.
It was so much more than that.
During those five weeks something happened to me. I...