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My Happy Place


July 7th, 2020- we landed in Indianapolis, IN. We got Chick-Fil-A and went to my grandma’s house after she picked us up from the airport. It was my first time having Chick-Fil-A in three years. I remember ordering a Coke and some chicken nuggets. I felt extremely happy to be back home with my family. I missed the smell of cows and the busy buzz of cars in Indianapolis. I missed the sight of corn as I drove by my grandma’s neighborhood. The corn swayed in the breeze behind us as we sped down that same old road. It brings back so many memories every time we drive down it, because of all the years we’ve spent there.

July 8th, 2020- I went and stayed at my great grandma’s house, and we got Panda Express. I ordered two sides of orange chicken with rice, and then we went to McDonald’s and got caramel Frappuccinos. Afterward, we went back to her house and watched Vampire Diaries and The Thing. We stayed up till around 3 AM, per usual. I had a feeling of belonging, of being at home. I was content, and I felt like this is where I was meant to be. I begged her to help me talk to my mom about staying with her for the next two years while my parents were in Korea because I really didn’t want to go.

July 16th, 2020- I stayed at my great aunt’s house and we packed up her camper for the big Michigan trip that was starting on the 17th. We packed up food, clothes, pillows, blankets, and all the items we would need to prepare the food. It took us about 6 hours of preparation, and then by the time we were done, it was midnight. I went for an hour-long swim, and then we went inside. I took a nice hot, steamy shower (felt really nice cause I was really tired and cold), and then I sat on the couch, ate more orange chicken, and had three popsicles, a tub of ice cream, some popcorn, some cereal, and then I watched Riverdale till about 4 AM. Then I went to sleep and woke up at about 8 AM. That whole night was a big rush of excitement. I woke up happy and bursting with joy.

July 17th, 2020- A happy awakening - I got up, made a bowl of cereal (cinnamon toast crunch churros), and grabbed my ice cream (Madagascar vanilla and coconut). I called my best friend and told her all about my past few days and what I would be doing for the next week. After about an hour of talking, I told her goodbye, because I wouldn’t be talking to her for a week, due to bad reception. I face-timed my other best friend and told her as well. I wished a happy birthday to one of my cousins, and then got in the truck (I had the whole long backseat to myself.), I was sprawled out, a blanket comfortably wrapped around me, and a ton of snacks covering the blanket. I had candy, cereal, drinks, chips, ice cream, and all other kinds of stuff. I was really happy, my AirPods in as I listened to the playlist of my favorite songs. I had over 4 hours worth of music and a whole 6-hour trip. We drove for about 2 ½ hours straight, no stop. After 2 ½ hours, we stopped at a gas station, where I got a sandwich, a Mountain Dew, and a bag of barbecue twists. I remember I had to eat the twists slowly because I had three loose molars, and they were really loose. I was too scared to pull them though because I’m squeamish about teeth pulling. After I ate, I threw the trash away and went to sleep, the song I fell asleep listening to was my very favorite song at the time. I felt like I was on top of the world riding in the back of that big blue truck. (Some backstory, my great uncle has owned that truck for 11 years since I was 2. I used to ride in the front while he would drive to work at the Post Office. I was, and still am his favorite niece. We would go for long rides with his dogs in the back, and we’d bring back Ice Cream from Mrs. Curl’s, a small local ice cream shop on the side of a lazy main road, next to “Old Park.” I would always get a plain vanilla cone, and we’d feed the ducks and little bluegills in the stream next to the shop.) We made jokes and laughed about the whole ride and even though we had a minor disagreement that made me feel upset and bad, we got over it and continued to have fun. I’ll admit, my way of “disagreeing” with them was to turn my music all the way up and pretend I was listening to them. I didn’t want to be super mad. I had a lot of fun, and when we got to Muskegon, MI, my cousins were playing in the water. I ran into the camper, threw on my bathing suit, and gave everyone a hug and a chat before I sprinted to the beach. I was flying so fast. I said hi to the whole campground (essentially everyone there is my cousin, uncle, aunt, of some sort. I have a *huge* family. And everyone else, I just know because my family has been going there for almost 100 years.) On my way to the beach, and when I got there, I put my phone down on my towel that I sloppily threw out, and dropped my mountain dew next to it. I wasn’t even wearing shoes. My cousins saw me running towards them, and started yelling my name and saying hi as I dove into the water. The water was freezing, but I was so happy I didn’t notice. I swam up to them and we started making jokes and laughing and playing was really fun. After about 5 hours of swimming (keep in mind, I had gotten to the beach at about 2:30 pm), we went back to the campgrounds, I took a shower (my cousins did too), and then we went back to our camp, and ate dinner. After that, we went to Ruth Ann’s, a small ice cream shop off the interstate. It has superman ice cream, one of the best kinds in the world. We went back to our campground and then we went to the tents. We watched TikToks and made some jokes. We didn’t sleep till 3 AM.

July 21st- We spent the whole day at the beach, swimming, running into the sand dunes, exploring the woods, etcetera. We found a bunch of fallen houses from a landslide. There were boats tied to trees, hanging down the hill. The wreckage was really bad, and there was caution tape everywhere. We walked all the way down the beach, till we reached the end, where the sand ended and was met with large oak trees. It was about 4 miles away from where we had been sitting and swimming on the beach. We kayaked a lot whenever we went to the beach, and we’d go about 1.5 miles out, into the choppy water. We went to get ice cream on the last night of our week there, and we rode in the truck bed of my grandma’s truck. It was really cool, because the wind was blowing in our faces, and we were laughing. It was a really good time. My aunt, four of my cousins, and I just sat in the back, laughing. We ordered our ice cream, and ate it on the way back, coasting down the interstate at a mediocre speed of 20mph. I had never felt so free and happy. As I was beginning to fall asleep, I felt loads of grief and anxiety, because I didn’t want to leave. Michigan is my happy place, and the thought of leaving it was overpowering. I felt so sad after my cousins were asleep that I got out of the tent, explicitly against my mom’s orders, but who could blame me? I was sad, and grief can make you do powerful things. I took a long walk, walking around the campgrounds. (I kept my flashlight off while I walked here, there was plenty of light from dying fires and the bathrooms.) When I got to the beach, I turned on my flashlight and sat down on the sand. I stared out over the water for about an hour, then got up and walked along the beach for about 10 minutes. After I got back from the beach, I walked into the woods, where I found my 8-year-old fort, and I sat there, looking out over the beach and the rolling hills of seagrass. I sat out there, remembering the good times till dawn. As the first light struck the treetops, I walked back to my campground. Everyone was still asleep, except my great uncle, who had driven me and my aunt to Muskegon. I thanked him for an amazing trip and told him I couldn’t wait for 2023. I told him my whereabouts in the early morning, and although he was mad I left without telling anyone, he told me he understood, and he could relate. He had done the same thing, every year he came to Michigan when he was a teenager and had always snuck back just before dawn. I think I get it from him. It would be a fun story to tell after a few months because my mom’s steam would blow over about it since it happened so long ago.


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