It forced me to really think about what i was feeling,
and to sit inside my heart
so that my hard wired head could stop
and i became content to be in my own space
content to sit within myself as I moved.
content to just watch as the world changed around me
merely maneuvering my truck from idea to idea
it forced me to process things by writing them
but it also gave me the space to think things through in conversations on the phone
but that depended entirely on cell service
in half motion
you latch on to these moments, these images, as they race in your head, as they take tight turns, as a force like gravity pulls and pulls you away. you find yourself empty save the quiet conversations and the warm silence. the moments that make you you. but how ‘bout I move them?
About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.
During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.
I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back.
The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.
Five more weeks. Only five more weeks and one of the biggest chapters of my life will come to an end. I came to America 3 years ago, planning on only staying for half a year. And now here I am, three years later. These have been the best three years of my life. I will miss this place more than I can explain. All the memories and people. It is hard leaving it behind. But I know that I will always be connected to this place and to the people. I know I will return, and I have made friendships for life here.
Even though I am very sad to leave, I am also excited to see what the future will hold. I have so many plans and trips coming up that I can hardly wait for. I am taking a gap year in which I will be in a different country every month doing my wildlife photography. I am going on a 1-month backpacking trip in Montana and I have so many more plans, and then college. I couldn’t be happier with my college decision. I will be attending Montana State University. The location is absolutely beautiful, they have amazing programs, and their outdoor program is everything I was looking for in a college. The Yellowstone ecosystem is just 30 minutes away from campus and there are awesome ski resorts nearby.
I am incredibly sad to leave Highschool but I will never forget the people and memories I have made here. Thank you for the best three years of my life.
frantically searching for a place to get in the water
and even as the sun dipped under the saddles I sped through
I could feel I could find it
and I did
I changed quickly and jogged past multiple signs which thoughtfully informed that this area was the elephant seal’s area not the humans area, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and it was not very bright so I only saw them as I was leaving
but I saw surfers in the water and the break looked nice enough so I ran through the grass towards the beach 100 yards off
where the grass stopped the seals started
some small but others enormous
big black bodies
and the screaming
but nothing could pierce the orange and purple sky
I darted through a maze of them
(entirely honestly I don’t know where the courage to do this came from)
I sprinted the last 20 feet to the water, threw my board down and paddled hard past the break to arrive at the silent surfers
I was a mess of limbs and heavy breathing but their boards just made small sounds when they breached the swaying surface and i settled into the salt and the sea
it was a pitchy little close out but occasionally the ocean would toss in this fast pulling right that could pick you up at the rocky point and deposit you on the other side of the cove in just seconds, forcing you to take a deep breath while you paddle back past the seals and the sand
I told this guy that I had been looking to get in the water before sunset and I thanked him for sharing his spot with me
“I’ve come here every day for a couple weeks hoping this spot would be breaking”
“oh yeah?” I said, moving closer by kicking underneath my board
“It opens up only a couple times a year, it needs just the right swell direction, if the waves are too big it washes out, and if it’s too small it doesn’t break, oh and the wind blows it out almost every day on top of that.”
A wave came and he tore off down the line
I watched the sun set from the water
splashed the cold water on my face.
And When i got back to the car I wrote
I wrote for him,
To her we are all just bodies
Blubbery and black
She pulls and pulls
The heat from our soles
But occasionally she opens up
And gives back
as he got in his truck I ripped out the page in my journal and handed it to him
The igloo that I inhabit is purely built out of ice. Blocks of ice stacked on top of one another until they create a dome that only raises about 3 feet off the ground. Before I assembled the dome, I had dug a pit that was about 3 feet deep into the frozen crust, under where I would eventually build my icy dome.
I had finished my igloo project, filling it with a deer and bear skin bed along with a small, vintage wood stove. Although the wood stove did little for me on the treeless coast of Greenland, I got creative and burned the oil collected from the fish I caught. I also brought with me a huge collection of Dura-logs which would sustain me for my stay in Greenland.
Every night I clung to the skins that entrapped my body in a cocoon of unsatisfactory temperatures, not cold enough to freeze but not warm enough to not question why in hell I would leave the Southern Californian bliss to come to the frozen tundra of despair.
But what made it all worth it was my constant adventure of navigating extreme winter conditions and the amazing art that lives and breathes in this magical place. My mornings consisted of sitting up and rotating 90 degrees to my heater where I boil coffee. The warm liquid slipped down my throat, heating my insides. My usual days consisted of taking an extremely long time to slip myself into the thick snow gear. Fur lined my hood and tickled my windburned cheeks as I crawled through the tunnel of ice that leads in and out of my igloo. From there I set off on the deserted icy planes, passing the occasional seal, with the intention of continuing my photography collection on the yearly migrating walruses.
Cold winter days often seem to fall short of the media’s predictions. We scheduled an early departure from school in anticipation of dangerous storms, though we’re met with trickles of water creating small puddles in dry dirt.
I tend to dress dramatically for the cold. I wear two pears of socks, two jackets, and keep a spare pair of gloves in my backpack. I prefer to overheat than freeze from the brisk winds. My wardrobe has many jackets, though only one of them I have deemed warm enough for January weather.
Although the cold is difficult, I do hope for adventure’s sake that we experience more rain. I keep my prized umbrella tucked away in my backpack, waiting for the day when I can use it again. I enjoy the trek from classroom to classroom as I use my umbrella as a shield from the harsh sky. February is likely to bring more rain, and I won’t put my umbrella away until the sun is revealed.
Walking among trees, flowers, and bushes, I see so many detailed shapes and colors that could be put together to represent almost anything. One homework assignment I had this week was to create a biological structure using elements of nature, and it was incredible to see how many mediums were available in the small space of my backyard.
I can see the textures of the plants and imagine how they would function in a work of art. I remember back in the seventh grade when our english teacher had us replicate the art of a famous nature artist by arranging leaves on the ground. We created the pattern of a heart using the different shapes, colors, and textures of nature. It was incredible to see how so many pieces of nature can come together and create something so beautiful.
While nature is stunning in itself, it has the capacity to be rearranged into a work of art with intent. The intention within a nature piece shows the connection between human spirit and the beauty of the natural world.
Finally. After two full weeks of quarantine, I was able to leave my room and go outside. After being isolated for so long, the simplest things make you the happiest. A hug from a friend, sitting with people, being able to go and eat at the cafeteria. I was so relieved to finally be with my friends again. The first thing I did was go on a long, big run across the campus of my school. It felt so freeing to be outside again and run through the campus and greet people.
On my third day of being out of quarantine, I was able to participate in the outdoor ed program again. We took a trip up to some local mountains. The drive there was just beautiful. Huge mountains and creeks all around. We left the van and I immediately ran to the creek. Feeling the cold water around my legs felt truly amazing. It was that feeling of freedom that I finally felt again after being isolated in my room for so long. We hiked along the creek until we came to a nice spot with shade and deep pools in the creek. We put down our bags and started to explore.
I started scrambling along the rocks going higher and higher, sitting on a high rock overlooking the little valley. I was so incredibly happy to be back in the outdoors again. I climbed back down and noticed lots of tiny frogs jumping around. I remembered how in Germany when I was younger, I would always go and catch the frogs in the lake behind our house. I started catching some frogs and it felt like I was in Germany again. I would catch one and hold it for a while before I released it back and caught the next one.
We stayed for about 2 1/2 hours before we made our way back up to the van. It was a small trip but it brought me so much happiness and I hope I get to participate in many more trips to come.