But, MoMa entered my room with a large manilla envelope. Having sent out applications to universities to appease the family I was thinking this was merely another acceptance package. She placed it on my vanity, face down & walked out of my room. A slight smile accross her face. & yet there seemed to be a bit of remorse to her tone as she said, "This is something you having been waiting for since you were 4 years old". pulling on my shoes I said, "What?!? Its papers for a Shetland Pony???" "Very funny", was her reply that drifted lazily down the hall as she made way to the kitchen. "Come into the breakfast room after you open it".
I sat back on my bed finishing the laces on my chucka boots. The envelope loomed omninescly from accross the room. I sat reflectively for a moment. It seemed like an enternity before I walked across & picked it up. A thought raced through my mind. "Have I been accepted to Ringling College?!?" It was something I had thought would not only be a place to create art, but fun to be around the Circus itself as it wintered there. Deep breathe I flipped it over.
It had an Atlanta postmark and a Delta Airlines Label on it addressed to me. I started to call down the hallway to ask what it was about as I drug my letter opener through the backflap. Out fell a ticket pouch. I pulled out the remaining contents of the envelope. Inside a letter detailing the trip & my acceptance for employment as a travel writer for Delta's onflight magazine, from a young adult perspective, brochures, maps, a Euro Rail Pass. I flopped into the chair of my vanity. Looking at the clock I noticed I had about 20 minutes to make it to class. I slipped the ticket into my pocket. Shot down the hall into the breakfast room. MoMa was there backlit from the morning sun. Reading the AJC & sipping her coffee from her favourite mug. A mug I had made when I was a Sophomore. She glanced over to the kitchen clock. "You're really pressed for time this morning". Handing me the keys to the wagon I threw my arms around her shoulders & squeezed her tight. "Its roundtrip mind you. You always have the option to visit you know." Looking up at me she gave a great sigh. I felt her shudder ever so slightly. Her face rested into my shoulder. "You're the youngest. Just like me. Just like Gremos. & you've been trying to get away since the day you were born". She sniffed & I felt her pull away slightly. Reaching into her pocket she pressed a $20 into my right palm. "You & Donna go to McDonald's for lunch". "You're giving me permission to skip campus?" I kissed her forhead & grinned. "Oh, yeah, like you've ever asked..." I bounded for the door. 4 Cats & 3 dogs, all clamouring to get in for a dish of food. "MoMa, please feed the zoo for me". "I'll feed them as long as you say you'll write while you're touring the English Countryside". "Its a deal", I said as I snapped the seatbelt. Checking the mirror my smile widened. "I'm going to England".
Graduation night was a blur. Jimmy & I saw each other in the hall. I straightened his tie & smoothed his hair. He gave his lopedsides grin."So, you gonna miss me?", he beamed at me. "Never, you were horrible to me this year", I laughed. You'll write while I'm away won't you?" he asked pensively. Sure, I'll send you a postcard from every city I visit. His grin grew board. I flashed my ticket.
There at the airport the next morning, I waited alone. I decided I couldn't take a big teary goodbye from anyone & sent them all packing at the White Zone. The sun bore through the smoked glass like a lazer. I sat in a bit of a fog as I had stayed out partying until 5:30a & my flight was at 8a. Over the loud speaker came, "Delta Airlines would like to welcome its passengers for Flight 809 heading to Heathrow Airport, London, England. At this time we will begin boarding the plane for flight". I felt a lurch in the pit of my stomach. I had my ticket clenched in my hand. My flight bag with my Euro Rail Pass, maps of England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland. My vouchers for all the Hostels I was booked into. Extra cash MoMa had changed for the trip. A locket she gave me for gradution hung round my neck. In it were pictures of the Zoo she had placed. I had tucked a pic of her over one of them. I turned to look around the airport before boarding. I saw the Atlanta skyline twinkling in the early morning sun. I let out a deep slow sigh.
Behind me I heard someone clearing their throat & it snapped me back into reality. I placed my bag in the overhead. Snapping my seatbelt shut. I opened the window to be dazzled by the light streaming in. The flight took off without effort it seemed. The clouds seemed an endless white. Banking we headed north. Then east. Beside me sat a young couple, so I thought. Turned out to be brother & sister returning home to London. We chatted the entire flight. All excited over their trip abroad. All excited to tell me where & what to see. At Heathrow they begged I come & spend the first night as a guest at their home. A beautiful estate in Notting Hill. I was most pleased with the begining of my new adventure...