Chapter 1: Entering the Open Door

Xandra Coleman - Senegal


August 20, 2018

Right now, there is a stupendous pile of objects strewn across my sister’s old room. In fact, ever since Aniqua officially moved out, the room has been slowly assimilated into a preparatory launch pad. A confined world of 40% deet, malaria pills, dollar store band-aids, and loose fitting pants. It is a world I can gratefully close the door on whenever I get stressed or panicked about the monumental decision I have made, at least for a couple more days. Soon, I am going to have to pack up the 40% deet, medicines, first aid supplies, and culturally appropriate clothing to embark on an eight month journey to Senegal. Well, at least this means Aniqua can have her room back if she so desires.

I continue to question how exactly I got here. This was not in my original plan, and anyone who knows me can tell you that. To strangers who ask, my friends and family could confidently respond that I was headed to an academically rigorous college somewhere on the east coast of America. Not even I would have predicted a gap year in Senegal to be amidst my future plans, yet here I am. My grandparents would tell me that God has a plan for me, and some optimistic person might state that everything happens for a reason. I say, I saw an open door and I took it. Whatever fateful alterations are made to my path, I am the author of my own story, an author who forces her protagonist to undergo terrifying and exciting adventures. If ever written, I strive to have my life be an epic poem that Dante would approve of, a drama Victor Hugo would watch, or a novel that meets the likings of Tolkien. To heck with the well beaten paths.

Although there are aspects of this upcoming adventure that terrify me, I remain excited. It is an opportunity to discover a new culture, become competent in a new language, and develop a world outlook. I find it hard to say goodbye as my friends travel off to colleges, friends who I won’t see for another eight months, and I’m not ashamed to say that I can cry at the idea being an empty seat at holiday dinners. Nevertheless, I continue to look forward to entering this open door where I will meet a second family and community to embrace. May chapter one in Life After High School Graduation begin with a bang.

Xandra Coleman