When you read this, I’ll probably be sprinting across a soccer field, desperate to prove to a panel of coaches that I deserve to be on their traveling team in the fall. I’ll be less than 24 hours away from boarding a flight to Ireland, my first trip out of the U.S. It’s safe to say that tensions are a little high in my house right now; we’re holding things together with good food and good news.

I write notes on my hands at night: reminders to go to the gym and eat breakfast. My browser fills up with tab after tab of interviews with my favorite soccer players on YouTube. If I were a normal person I would probably be preoccupied with my trip to Europe, but my bag is only half packed and already contains a soccer ball. Today’s tryouts have been a weight on my shoulders that I won’t be rid of till they’re over.

I feel older this summer. I look in the mirror and see flashes of my older brother. I feel like I am finally gaining control, even as everything around me rushes me to the boarding gate. ♦