The next few days in Washington, D.C. were planned full. The group got to tour around their Countries Capital. They spent most of the day outside visiting monuments and just walking around the city. All of the exchange students had cash to buy food and drink and presents for their host families.
Louise didn’t think to buy her host family a gift. She didn’t even know who her host family was nor did she know where they live. It didn’t really matter. She didn’t care and didn’t give it much thought. She was just excited to be on this adventure and not sitting at home bored the entire summer. She felt free. The adult leaders trusted the students. They would say ‘’Ok guys we’re stopping here for a while. There are restaurants over that way, a museum over there, and behind us a park with some benches to relax. We’ll meet back here in two hours. We’re going to the park. Those of you who want to come with us can come. If not we’ll see you here at exactly this spot in two hours. Don’t be late.’’
Wow! Louise had never had this kind of freedom. Her mother had always been too scared. Or was it Louise that had been too scared? Louise figured it was a good test to see who could follow instructions, who could be trusted. The group split up into smaller groups. Louise didn’t wear a wrist watch so she stuck close to the kids who did wear one and who looked reliable. That way she could be sure to be on time. She also got lost easily and didn’t want to be stuck in this big city alone.
During this time Louise became friends with the most interesting girls. She didn’t hang around the model girls from the night before, instead with a pretty hippie looking girl. She had long dirty blond curly hair. Her name was Erica and she wore a long skirt with big waist belt. Her shirt was colored with a wild flower print. It had ruffles and was tight around the waist. She wore a long beaded necklace that jingled when she walked.
Louise sat down at the table with Erica and Ariel, the youngest girl in the group. Ariel was fifteen, most of the other exchange students eighteen. She had a big smile and laughed a lot at her own jokes, even when no one else laughed. She was kind, smart and had a wrist watch so Louise stayed close to her.
Erica gave the two girls tips on how to dress to look thinner. ‘’You see how I do it?’’ She stood up and twirled around to show her long flowing skirt and brown leather belt. ‘’It is high up around my waist. Not like most girls these days. They wear their skirts, low and when they sit down you can see their belly hanging over the top. That never happens with me.’’ She said, sitting down with a smile showing her white teeth.
Louise thought it wasn’t the skirt that made Erica look thin, she is thin, is doesn’t matter what she puts on. Louise looked over at Ariel as Erica focused her attention back onto her food. Ariel seemed to be thinking the same thing as Louise because they both let out a snicker.
Louise spent the rest of the day with these two girls. At night she went with Milly to another room to hang out a while. She just let herself be seen and listened to the jokes of the others. The rest of the time went by fast. It was no time before the group was on their way to the airport.
Louise hung out with Ariel. She was able to relate to her. Ariel had been very sheltered so Louise figured it would help her stay out of trouble to hang out with her. The subject of sex and drug never came up. Some of the exchange students ordered wine on the way to Germany. In Germany they were legal drinkers making it no problem to have even vodka on the plane ride. Ariel was too young even in Germany order alcohol making it easy for Louise to refrain. The topic didn’t come up with Ariel. If someone else asked her why she didn’t want any she could just say she was a good friend by not temping Ariel.
This plane ride seemed to go by quicker than the other two times she had flown to Germany that year. Once across the ocean, the crew of young southern Americans took a bus to a Jugendherberge where they would be staying for the next month.
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