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Hitting the road, again


A boat wound up beside a drive-through, fast food window following Katrina. (Josh Gales/YJI)

Tuesday, 9:12 p.m. , Provencal, Louisiana — I’m leaving LSMSA. After my parents saw how exhausted I was when I came home this past weekend, and I think they realized what the school was doing to me, as hard as I’m trying to balance everything. I slept the whole weekend, and when Sunday came for me to go back, I didn’t want to at all. I wanted to stay in the small, cramped camper and sleep for a few more days … or forever.

I promised my dad that I’d keep trying this week, but I asked them to look for another school, just in case. Mom told me that I didn’t need to go back if I didn’t want to, and even though my dad agreed with her, I knew that he wanted me at LSMSA because I’d get a good education and I’d have a place to stay, no matter what.

This morning, Mom called and said that St. Thomas Aquinas School in Hammond , Louisiana had accepted me. I’d learned from a friend that there were some Hannan people there. Mom told me I needed to be there by 11:30 tomorrow morning because they wanted to make my schedule and get me started in my classes.

It’s so hard keeping up with the pace of everything since the hurricane. So many decisions are being made in a second’s time, and I’m wondering how long we can go before making a wrong decision this way.

I went into the dorm room, singing that I get to leave. My roommate stared at me, but I didn’t care. She was buying my refrigerator from us; let her stare at me in any way that pleases her. I was happy to leave, as nice as the teachers have been to me. My service hour director and I bonded a lot today while I was doing work in her office. We have the same MP3 player, and we talked about music and traveling and things like that. I think she was sad I was leaving, and I like her a lot. I’m going to email her and hope we keep in touch. She said to never stop dreaming of traveling. Her husband is really nice too. He gave me a gift when I told him I was leaving, even though he doesn’t even have me as a student. It’s a fossil, and he put it in the palm of my hand: 250 million years old. I love things like this. I was astonished. I almost cried there in the office, and my service hour director came and gave me giant hug.

Mom and I stripped my dorm room down to nothing, not that there was very much to strip. We’re planning on giving the file cabinets to the lady who owns the property my parents have been staying on. She has a business, and she can use them.

I’m so happy to be out of LSMSA, but I don’t mean that in a horrible way. I liked the teachers, but so many of the students were petty and cruel. I couldn’t handle the hurricane, being so behind in schoolwork, the people, and the dorm all at once, and it was taking a big toll on me. I feel terrible for letting my mom and dad down, not to mention all of the people who worked so hard to get me into the Louisiana School , but I’m sorry. I hope they know that.

I’m still really tired, and now I’m in the camper, clean and in pajamas. Mom and I have to get up early tomorrow to be in Hammond . It’s a long drive, so I’m going to get some rest. Dad is going to be staying behind in Natchitoches for a day or so more to handle business here.

After that, we’re back to the gypsy life, in the camper and on the road.

Samantha Perez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International. Josh Gales is a Photographer for Youth Journalism International.

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