My Hawaiian vacation is over, but a new adventure is just around the corner.

Summer is on the horizon, sort of. The tropical vacation was in December, so, naturally, summer is the next thing to look forward too.

It is summer before my senior year at University of North Florida in Jacksonville. My plans are to soak up the sun on the beach, lift weights and sleep or so I thought.

My uncle John called me and asked my plans.

“Nothing,” I replied.

He went on to tell me if I was serious about being a journalist, I needed to get some extra experience. At the time, my uncle was the general manager of the second largest printing facility in the U.S. called Ann Arbor Offset (Michigan).

Uncle John told me he could get me an internship if I couldn’t find one. And, as fate would have it, I couldn’t.

He even went as far as to call my mom and get her to buy a plane ticket. So I’m on my way to Michigan for summer — sad face.

No beach, no fun, at least that’s what I thought.

Here’s what I knew about my uncle and his at this point:

He and my aunt Shawn are Christians.

They homeschool their children: Matthew, Anna and Nathan aka “Nay Nay” or “Wiggly.”

We would be going to church every Sunday.

None of these things sounded appeasing, but I agreed. Being a 23-year-old senior meant it was time to be making moves in life.

I arrive off the plane in Detroit on a Sunday morning and find we were going to a different church just to accommodate the time. I thought I dodged the first Sunday at least.

After church, we go to my uncle’s home in Chelsea, Michigan. He brings me to this sun room out in the woods behind the house and says this will be my room for the summer.

“So you have your own privacy,” he said.

Thankfully, it was a joke — because I am a coward. In fact, I checked to make sure there wasn't a serial killer was behind the shower curtain before using the bathroom until I was 18.

My actual bedroom in the finished basement was much better, but there’s a catch.

The wire on this small cage was pried open. A piece of paper serving as a name tag on the cage said Mr. Bites. My uncle told me the cage fell over and their tarantula got out.

He told me it might climb on me for warmth in the night and not to scream.

The summer proved to be more interesting than I thought. And in the end, was influential in who I would choose to live for.

Until next time,

Michael Anthony Stavola

 — Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.