Ending a chapter

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montana_State_University

capstone pt. 14

______

Then on friday

as the sun set I tore down highway 1

past cambria

by hearst castle

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

pink mouths

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)

but

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.

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

My Pencil

With the slow re-entrance to in-person classes, I have found that several digital aspects still remain part of my daily routine. While I used to carry a large pencil case with an assortment of options, I now have only one pencil that I keep in a little fuzzy pouch. Paper handouts are a rare commodity these days, and I find my handwriting degrading by the day.

I have left behind the use of binders – something which I have practiced and perfected since the second grade. The amount of papers I use now simply does not fill enough space to justify the use of a large cardboard structure that fills my backpack. I now carry a simple folder, one I have been saving for years.

My inability to write as aesthetically as I did in previous years may hinder me in life, but at least I can type efficiently.

I know that I will never retire my pencil, however, as there will always be a need to write.

Image Credit: CBS News

Limited Time

Now that spring has begun and the air is faintly smelling of orange blossom filling the valley air in the brisk mornings, I can tell my time here is coming to an end. The morning and afternoons driving up and down the weaving road into the campus atop the hill. There are so many fond memories that will last more than a life time.

But now I am counting the weeks left in this beautiful place that I have spent the last four years of my life. In one way, this place is kind of all I have ever known, but it has made me want to branch out and go explore. I have learned so much academically, but also as a person.

I’ve learned what to expect from people and how to protect myself and control emotions, I’ve learned how to make true life long connections with people but most importantly I began to learn who I am.

All of these small simple lessons have been learned simply from waking up and going to school every morning and giving it all I could every day.

So now I have realized I have limited time left, and that is in fact scary, but it is leading me to a new adventure.

Photo credit : Ojai Valley School

Who I am

Do you know this feeling, when your heart drops and it feels like someone just dug a knife through it. That feeling that shivers down your spine and makes the hair on your arms crawl up. You’re pumped with adrenaline. Your heart is beating out your chest. And then, just silence. You don’t know what you feel anymore, it’s too much. Tears start rolling down your face. Your breath gets faster and faster.

Thinking about it, emotions are a fascinating and scary thing. One moment they make you feel like you are on top of the world, the next they crush you down to the floor. But I am not saying that that’s a bad thing. They help us learn, they help us communicate with other people without using words. People can connect, solely through their emotions. It helps us understand each other more. 

For the longest time, I tried to suppress my emotions. I feel weak showing my flaws and I don’t want people to see me cry. It is still something I am struggling with to this day. But I have found ways to deal with it by myself. Running, singing, playing tennis, are all things that help me burn off stress. But camping is probably the thing that has helped me most throughout my life. 

When I am outside camping with friends, I just forget all my worries for a while. Everything is ok and I just feel free and relaxed. Its like I’m in a completely different state of mind, like bad things can’t even get close to me. And at night when I look up at the stars, I just feel thankful for the life I have. How lucky I am to have such great friends and memories of traveling around the planet. How supportive my family is, and how excited I am for my future. 

Feelings are a important part of who we are as a person. They define us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. even though I still struggle, I know there are people out there who care for me and who support me in anything I do. 

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32469035646.html

Music

It is strange the way that we associate music with memories.

It is like a strong perfume that is impossible to disassociate with an era.

There are songs I cannot listen to because I was sad during the month it was in my playlist, or even because I feel that I have moved on from that time period. I now listen to a song knowing that one day, likely very soon, I will have grown out of this small era and will associate the song with the general mood of the month.

Small things in life change rapidly, including the clothes you choose, the breakfast you eat, your daily routine, the people you talk to, and the music you hear. Listening to music from a different era of mine often makes me feel uncomfortable, even if it was a good era, simply because I am not there anymore. It reminds me that times have changed, even if it is month to month.

Sometimes I regret listening to the same four songs day after day on my drive to school because I know what I am building. It will be a memory for my future self to listen to and reflect.

The automatic association of music and memories is hard to shake. They are not implicit memories, it is the general tone of the era that went unrecognized until you hear the songs and realize the moment has passed.

Image Credit: Apple Music

Deciding

As colleges acceptances come to a close, I am left with a mere thirty days to decide where I want to spend the next four years.

Based on circumstances I can’t remember, I have narrowed it down to two colleges. One of prestige, and one of comfort.

Now I must decide, do I go to a school the size of a small town with a bumper sticker name, or a smaller school a step up from high school? As I gravitate towards the larger school, another big one comes in to play.

The final college decision letter. What was originally my top choice (though now I’m unsure) will now be competing with my new, other top choice.

There are two outcomes to this situation. Either they reject me and I’m disappointed, though my decision is made easier. Or I am accepted, and I now must choose.

I can’t decide which is harder. Though subconsciously, I know which choice is right.

Image Credit: UCLA Newsroom

Routine

I have conditioned my cat.

Her treats stay in the top drawer of my dresser, along with folded clothes. When I open the drawer, the handle bounces against the wood, making a clanging noise. Each time I hear it, she comes running in anticipation of treats.

Now comes the balance.

I worry to open the drawer for clothes, for fear of her conditioning wearing off. If she does not get treats when she hears the clanging, she may begin to unlearn her conditioned response. She will stop running to me, and I will have lost my leverage.

If I want her to come over, I open the drawer. Though, if I open it for clothes instead of treats, I feel obligated to give her what she wants. I wonder if it’s mean of me to tease her – even if I don’t mean it. She doesn’t know the difference.

I now find her trying to open the drawer herself. One day she will. And that day I will move the bag of treats. And the conditioning process will begin once more.

Trying to get her treats

If you love them, let them go…

At one point or another in your life you are told “if you love something let it go, and if it was meant to be it will come back to you.” It is a statement told to help someone usually adjust to the loss of something loved that is beyond your control. In theory it all makes sense, but you never want to have to tell yourself to abide by that concept.

I never really understood the meaning of that until I found myself fighting to keep someone in my life. Every day I would struggle to watch them drift away. I would think, how could someone that I love so dearly, and who claims to love me equally, simply fade away. I decided to simply let them go, because in reality, or as the saying goes, “if it was meant to be it will come back to you.” So that is simply what I decided to do.

At first, hours passed, the days, then weeks. The pain was real and it felt all so very fresh. like a deep wound that took ages to heal. Then eventually months began to pass, and I felt whole again, even without my dearly loved person. I accepted their leaving, I never understood it, but I accepted it and I considered that good enough.

I felt whole again, even though I was missing a piece. But after the hours, days, weeks, and months had passed a wave of emotions came back into my mind. I felt the need to reach out, to check-in, just to see how they were. But I had to remember that I let them go so I simply put it in the back of my mind.

That was until I received a message. The person who I loved so dearly came back. Did that happen because I simply let them go, or was it because it was indeed meant to be?

So maybe the age old saying isn’t wrong? Maybe if you really do love something and you let it go, it will eventually come back to you?

The Ups and Downs with Life

As time went on, my emotions started to grow into something not so pretty. My thoughts and feelings followed me everywhere, even when I wanted nothing to do with them. I was trapped and claustrophobic. I would come home from school and sit in silence, and do nothing. My motivation was gone, my happiness was fake, and my mental health was non existent. Sometimes it would hurt to cry because the mental pain I was in.

Photo credit: Joey Guidone

I was getting better. I wanted, no I needed to get better. I talked with someone, a couple someones, and I worked on my mental health. I started feeling bursts of happiness and motivation. These feelings that I have not felt in a long time. I thought I was getting better, I thought life was treating me well. Until it was not.

This time I understood what I was feeling, and I wanted it to stop. I did everything I could to get better, and I knew it was going to be a long process with setbacks. I was kind to myself, as well as patient. It took a while, and I still have ups and downs, but I am getting better. It is a day-by- day process.

I am finally able to say that I’m truly happy with life.