Many "Firsts"

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

The Glory Days I grew up with just two brothers but our house always seemed to be bursting at the seams with kids. After my youngest brother was born my mom decided to stay home. She discovered working at a bank stole too much time away from raising us kids and so she decided to become a substitute teacher. This way, when we went to school.. She went to school, when we had a snow day.. She had a snow day. When we had summer vacation.. She had summer vacation. I know, she’s pretty great. Anyways, as if running around with 3 kids wasn’t enough chaos, she also babysat some of the kids in the neighborhood. She’s a saint.

For us kids however, it was a dream come true. We never had to ask to have our friends over because when we woke up every morning, there would be cartoons on and a few kids already enjoying a bowl of cereal at the kitchen table. Usually, sparking the first controversy of the day because they would have already claimed the COOL cereal bowls. You know the cool ones with the spiral straws connected on the side, allowing you to slurp your remaining milk. However, they were the first ones up and ready for breakfast so that was the rule. This taught us the act of sharing but also taught me to be an earlier riser.

After breakfast we’d play. We had the biggest yard and this allowed us to run around and just play. Like most kids do, we spent a lot of time playing outside. Sports, tag, hot lava, cops and robbers, and every other game our little imaginations could create. It was the best and sometimes we would even get to take “field trips”. I remember one time particularly, we were headed to the movie theater. My mom had to prepare everything for the 7+ kids she was going to attempt to coral and transport to the theater.

Step 1: Pack the treats. (because who is really going to spend $4 for a candy bar) we would fill our pockets and put on our biggest sweatshirts, in hopes to hide our sour gummy worms and milk duds.

Step 2: Pack the paper bags. We mastered the popcorn situation. We would pack our little brown paper bags and buy one large (free refill) popcorn. This way, we would all get own individual baggie of popcorn. This was ingenious and saved many arguments because God forbid if someone was hogging the popcorn or not passing it down the row fast enough. Most importantly, it saved all the fresh butter licked fingers from repetitively entering the popcorn box. I’m all about building the immune system but that’s just a step too far. Regardless, we mastered the movie theater field trip. Well kind of.

Step 3: Count heads and get everyone ready to leave. This step took the longest as most of us were rather tedious in the process of putting shoes on, putting away our toys, and actually getting ourselves into the van ready to go.After finishing the hour long process of getting ready, we did a rough head count and we were off. We only made it a few blocks down the road and someone chimed in, “Where’s Trent?”

Turns out.. we did indeed forget one. Trent. A near Home Alone remake. We pulled back into the driveway and all ran in thinking to find a devastated little boy who had discovered he was left alone. Not the case. We found him upstairs playing on the Nintendo 64, probably thoroughly enjoying not having to take turns with anyone else. He turned and smiled, not even knowing he had been left.


A Trip to Germany Fast forward about 18 years and I’m still best friends with that little boy that we left behind that one summer day. Trent and I had the luxury of growing up in the same small town, where we shared many memories, and as we grew older we share many of the same interests, aspirations, and views on life. He has an adventurous heart and that’s what brought him to Germany this past week. He had never been out of the country and with me playing overseas, he seized the opportunity to do just that. (Leaving Florida’s 75 degree sunshine and exchanging it for a constant 40 degrees and cloudy… true friend)

We were able to explore new parts of Germany together and the culture that came along with each new place we visited. We were never bored and we hardly ever sat still. We took full advantage of every day, probably to a fault.. Because that included a 2:30 AM train ride to have us in Berlin for 7:00 AM where we would then proceed to walk 15 miles (on 3 hours of sleep) throughout the city of Berlin, assuring we saw every single corner of the city… From WWII museums, the East Side Gallery, Jewish memorials, and even this charming cafe we found online that was isolated on the other side of the city. It was worth the trek because when Yelp “says BEST pistachio croissants in town”, they mean it.

Trouble with the Law Public transportation is incredibly convenient in Europe. We’d just hop on the train and head to the next place on the list. Flawless. We wanted to see and experience everything, we went as far as wanting to discover the way the German police system worked.Let me explain myself here… Traveling with an American credit card can be frustrating at times, especially when you want to buy a train ticket and your credit company decides that now is a good time to protect you from fraud... So after a side-eyed look and shrug of the shoulders, we hopped on the train anyways. (we had places to be!!) Don’t worry we thought, there’s an app and when we get to Wifi, we can download it and get the tickets that way. Turns out, we have some bad luck and we were stopped and asked for our tickets.

Ahhh… Young dumb Americans. For those wondering — the German Officers are much like I envisioned. Straightforward and with a no bullshit mentality. This officer was kind, ensuring he listened to my explanation but he also was quite the multitasker. He listened courteously, nodding his head up and down but he never once picked up his pen from the paper while he continued to fill out our tickets.

You should experience everything once right?!?!

All the Firsts We masked our sorrows in currywust and gelato. We then found a cute German pub, where we had dinner and Trent had his first schnitzel. There were a lot of “firsts” during his trip. He stayed at his first hostel, had his first German beer, got his first stamp in his passport, experienced his first time driving stick, had his first eating etiquette lesson, his first time on a train, and even took his first losses in 1v1.. and his second.. and his third (hehe).

The best part is Trent didn’t shy away from any opportunity to try anything new. If there was a food, he’s never tried, he’d try it. Majority of the time I don’t even think he was hungry but he’d didn’t want to miss out on anything. We joked that vacation allows for a 50% discount on calories.. unfortunate for me because I wasn’t on vacation so I had to embrace all 100%. So yeah I had to count all 23875695 calories in the giant Schneeballen (Snowball of cookie) we tried. Worth it.

When we weren’t filling our faces with foods, we talked. We talked about life. We talked about the future and how we have nothing planned past this summer. (Usually this conversation brings me anxiety) However, that opens up conversations about our goals, dreams, our passions and interests, everything. This also brings to light that, “The World is Our Oyster” (don’t worry, I also cringed writing that but just too fitting to omit). It can be exciting and scary to not know what’s next. For me, I’d love to continue playing but the thing about that is, I can’t plan that now and for him, his lease in Florida is up in summer and that just potentially opens up a whole new adventure for him. There’s nothing keeping us anywhere. We could have went on forever with these topics and often we did, but we always came to the same conclusion, as long as your happy nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what’s next because if we are happy in the current moment, the next moment will figure itself out.

These conversations probably opened up more questions than they answered but I know one thing for sure, life is much simpler when you are surrounded by likeminded people. I never have to explain myself or my goals or why I’m doing the things I’m doing. That’s the beauty in friends, you get to pick them and surround yourself with awesome people. Facebook acknowledges him with a badge of “Top Fan” and it’s 100% accurate. He’s someone that has always been in my corner and supporting me during every step of my journey.

It’s funny because when I was little I didn’t have the ability of, quote on quote “picking my friends”, whoever was dropped off in the morning is who we would get to play with that day. I mean really, I had no complaints and apparently, neither did Landon, my oldest brother, as one of those young girls is now his wife. But I know one thing for certain, even if I didn’t get to pick Trent as a friend growing up, he’d be the first friend I’d pick today.

- Laken

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