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She woke up the next morning with a hangover. Annie had never been drunk before. In fact, Annie had never really done anything that could amount to any kind of trouble. She had seen the unfortunate long-term effects that came with an affinity for alcohol in her grandmother. Hard drugs weren’t something anyone in her family did, exactly, but crack was something that was sold now and again when they were really hard up for money. The crack heads that came around during those times were very nice, but crazy enough that Annie was sure her auntie’s timing of these sales correlated to everyone being home from school on purpose.

But, man, that hangover was worth it! Thus far in life Annie had kept her head down and her grades up. She picked up extra shifts whenever she could, not because she wanted more money but because she didn’t know what else to do with herself. She’d been singularly focused on this almost tangible, sparkling orb of freedom shining brightly just out of reach, waiting for her to grab it with both arms and hang on if only she could make it over the hill that was high school. Now it was finally here, and she was ready to spread her wings!

She’d had so much fun with Christian. If last night was any indication of what she’d been missing, she was glad she hadn’t been distracted with boys and other questionable substances thus far.  The rest of her life had arrived. It was finally time to make a break for it, and then decide what, exactly, to do with it.


Two years worth of part-time income with a minimum wage salary, minus meager living expenses,  turned out to be somewhere in the realm of $15,000. Over the past couple of weeks, Annie had narrowed down her plan of attack. Ultimately she really did want to see Boston, and since that was the furthest away from San Diego she was going to make that her end point.  Her must-see stops along the way included New Orleans, Nashville and New York. And she really, really wanted to see Las Vegas, even though it would create a slight detour right off the bat. All together the one way trip would be close to $600, and ideally Annie wanted to arrive in Boston with a few thousand dollars left to live off of so that she could get situated and find a job. No way was she gonna come wallowing back here begging to sleep on her grammy’s couch. She needed to play this thing the right way so she could plant herself where she wanted and make a new life. That left her $12,000 and some change to live off of, or $133 per day for three months. Three whole months of doing whatever she wanted to do, seeing the world, meeting people and living her every whim. She was ecstatic.

Her list of things to do today involved buying the first leg of her greyhound ticket (Vegas, baby!), securing any major necesseties from the store, stopping by the bank to open an account (even she knew that she shouldn’t walk around with that much cash, but she’d always been too scared to put it in the bank! Who knew where it went from there?) and saying her goodbyes. Christian’s would be the last stop so that she wouldn’t have anywhere else to be. The best for last, she supposed.  There was supposed to be nothing but sweet joy in leaving this place, but against all of her reasoning bittersweetness was going to have to do.


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