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  • Writer's pictureCCA Pulse Magazine

Change | Liam Rosenberg

Dark gray clouds undulated over the rolling Berkshire Mountains, and the towering white pines stood idly by. These were signs of an incoming rainstorm and usually spurred a sigh of relief in sweat-soaked counselors and kids alike — a welcome break to the hot, sticky summertime weather in Western Massachusetts. But this year at sleepaway camp, the rain produced a different feeling. In previous summers, it had never been this frequent and intense. Even still, everything else seemed “off.” A freak accident a few months earlier had caused the camp lake’s shores to recede. There was no more Visiting Day, where parents and campers were treated to popcorn and cotton candy. We could no longer have the chance to sneak onto Girls’ Side and scrawl our name on a bunk. With it being the summer after eighth grade, the camp’s changing environment certainly didn’t quell my fears about high school. Bored on a camp trip to a trampoline park one day, I crept into the bathroom and connected my iPod Touch to the WiFi. I think it goes without saying that any electronics with calling capabilities were banned, but I chanced at logging into social media.

“You’re selling your house?” read the latest message received on my iPod. It was my best friend, also away at sleepaway camp, who had heard so from his parents. I was admittedly taken aback — selling the house was never an option that crossed my mind. I immediately texted my parents, who responded in cryptically-worded fragments of sentences, until they couldn’t anymore. Over iMessage, a jumble of letters reading, “Yes, we are” is probably not the greatest way to break the news to your teenage son that you are relocating across the country, but that’s what it ended up being, anyway. And so I sat there in the toilet stall, dumbfounded, like the schmuck-who-was-stupid-enough-to-try-and-pull-a-fast-one on my counselors that I was. Before I knew it, I started bawling like a baby. The place that I had despised so much, the suburbs of Northern New Jersey, suddenly became my second heaven. Well, it was mostly because I thought I’d have to leave camp early, but it appears I conflated the two. And where were we moving? San Francisco? Nope, the other San — the one that no one cares about. I was devastated.

A month later, we had packed our belongings and settled into San Diego. I started at a small private school, a stark contrast from the university-sized high school I would have attended in New Jersey. There were some positives: the weather was leaps and bounds ahead of anything on the East Coast. I took pride in bragging to my friends about my ability to chillax at the beach at a moment’s notice. The motivation to succeed just wasn’t there, though. It almost felt like I had immigrated to another country, where social and academic life was about as different as it could get. I resented my parents for moving me away from everything we had known. I thought roots were planted in the Tri-State Area, and we had betrayed them.

Throughout my freshman year, I desperately missed my friends and home. I barely kept myself afloat by worshiping the idea that the move was temporary and my parents would reconsider. As time went by, I soon realized that this was not realistic. Seeing the challenges I faced at school, my parents allowed me to transfer to CCA as a sophomore. I was extremely hesitant at first, doubtful that anything my parents wanted for me was in my best interest. My mom would drag me to tour after tour while I remained vehement that I stayed in the car. I enrolled as a student at the start of the year and was just as bitter and stubborn as I had always been. I want to say that I was prepared for classes at CCA, but that would be lying. The four-by-four schedule and Honors Chemistry particularly hit me like a ton of bricks. As the weeks progressed and turned into months, my mindset was unchanged. I preferred to talk to my friends on the East Coast and disregarded what I considered trivial school affairs. In March 2020, my entire life changed when COVID-19 halted physical learning for the foreseeable future. School days became extended weekends, and I would often miss class simply because I slept through them. Combined with my existing ADHD, the effects of the pandemic didn’t just make me feel hopeless. I had completely broken down.

However, something changed during my second semester of sophomore year. Possibly because COVID forced me to embrace the environment I lived in, I started to find outdoor hobbies I was interested in. While I had run track and cross country, biking was a new beginning for me. I also tried golf and tennis, two sports I had never played. My academics improved, too, and I achieved significantly higher grades than before. My junior year was a continuation of this trend, and while I had a slight reactionary moment, in the beginning, I believe the senior year is too.

Now, at 18 years old, I am probably not the person I envisioned myself becoming as a freshman. But I have learned not to sweat the small stuff (or the big stuff, for that matter). Change is necessary and must be welcomed in one’s life. It has made me into the guy I am today.

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