By Elvis Wong

I hate change: I moved to California when I was five. I originally grew up in Ontario, Canada. When my father received a better job offer, my parents decided to move the family; it was an executive assessment and they operated a totalitarian regime at home; my brothers and I were all too young to voice our opinions.
I hated my parents for that. Although I was only five, I glared when the real estate agent entered our home. Boy, did I stare him down: I was Medusa. Although he probably did not notice, I made a valiant effort to make him feel like a criminal for trying to sell our house. Despite my observably obnoxious attitude, we moved.
I have been living in California for 11 years now and I never saw the day when I would be faced with the possibility of having to moving again. Because of the financial crisis in 2008, my father again became unemployed. Eventually, I realized that my father was struggling.
He searched everywhere and no job offers were available. When he flew to Southern California for an interview, I knew that I would be faced with moving again.
After months of family meetings and painful discussions, I was left behind in Petaluma where I grew up: I love my community; I love my friends; I had even grown to love my school. I knew that leaving everything that I valued would be devastating. However, while I preserved one aspect of my life, I sacrificed another.
I lost family.
My parents rented our house to a family friend while I remained in my room. My alarm goes off every morning at 6:25. I go downstairs and hurriedly eat a bagel or a muffin and drink some water. When I leave the house at seven, it is dark and silent. I am lonely.
After school, I head straight to practice: I run cross country during the fall and track during the spring.
When I go home at five, I rush to my room and glance at the dinner table, “No dinner tonight, again,” I tell myself.
I go into my room, lock the door, and take a shower.
The house hasn’t been cleaned in months, but how much can I care?
I open the fridge and see at a glance, there is nothing to eat. In the microwave? Nothing to eat. I am starving. Finally, I decide to drive out to grab food at a fast food restaurant; I know it’s bad for me, but I don’t have any other options.
The family that I’m staying with tries their best to accommodate meals for me, but it is difficult because the family owns a restaurant and they spend a lot of their days working.
I was left alone to care for myself, to care for my own meals and to survive.
It was then that I started to become independent. I got used to living without my parents.
But I felt unloved and lonesome at times. I used homework and sports to numb the pain and preoccupy myself. I became more dedicated than before and devoted myself to studying and striving to succeed.
I was living a pseudo-college life — a life that prepared me to face in the future.