When I was eleven, I flew alone for the first time. My flight transported me from Phoenix to San Diego, from one world to another. I reluctantly looked back at my parents as I slowly passed through the security checkpoint. I remained eerily silent as I was escorted through the terminal. A huge badge with a smiling airplane was slapped onto my chest and I was seated next to the other nervous children. A little girl my age was reading Stuart Little and a boy, about six, spilled his Sprite on me within a few minutes of boarding. “Why can’t I just sit with the adults?” I sighed to myself.
After an hour of watching castle-shaped clouds twist and billow outside my window, after tuning out of that chaotic, yet boring cabin and allowing my imagination to wildly float off to unexplored territory, we arrived at San Diego International Airport. My grandparents were waiting for me and had an exciting itinerary planned, which include: playing at the beach, boating and fishing, In-N-Out Burger, Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, Charlie’s by the Sea, visiting relatives, Seaport Village, and many other exciting excursions. That week is a treasure box in my mind, a time capsule that holds some of my fondest memories.
One of the most memorable moments of that trip was passing through two hanging chain curtains at the Wild Animal Park into an exhibit brimming with the most vividly colored butterflies I had ever seen, more wonderful than I could ever imagine. I felt like I was entering “The Secret Garden.” I was amazed and overwhelmed with awe. How could so much beauty be contained in such a small enclosure?
On the way in, we passed by a smoker. I scrunched up my face and held my nose as I glanced up at him with obvious disgust.
Imagine my astonishment when that same man walked into the exhibit and was greeted by dozens of gorgeous butterflies! They fluttered gracefully toward him and perched on every exposed inch of him. I felt a sharp pang of jealousy in my chest and sadness in my heart. I envisioned the delicate origami insects catching flame, their bodies slowly contorting as they burned, their iridescent ashes carried away in the light breeze until not a trace remained. I was devastated.