An Observation

From here I see my campus from an aerial view. If I turn around, I see the backs of the display books in the library. I feel as if I am spying on my own classes, looking through the glass as if admiring a fish tank. The empty space is filled with reflections of light as the mountains project onto the classroom air. The ceiling is as busy as the ground, as the light blends the air the way water blends light.

The soft, patchy hills feel uninviting up close as the pine needles keep me seated delicately. The towering trees are no mightier than grass in the valley, as the vertical space of campus is dominated by mountains, surrounded by empty air.

The birds aren’t tied to the ground. The space is theirs, and they are free to exist on a higher plane. They have their own conversations up here. They chatter amongst each other as I do with my friends in the confines of the trees. 

For this moment, I am with them. I exist on the higher plane, resisting the hour where I will return to my path on the game board of campus. The ground is vast, and I never considered my ability to break my trails. I’ve existed on this campus for years, and I’ve traced the same route each day, etching my footprints into the ground. I’ve left spaces abandoned and ignored. There are pockets in the trees where I’ve never set foot. The heart of campus is in the green leaves, though I experience life on the white concrete, referencing the trees as accessories.

From afar, these trees are the campus. Each little patch on the mountain is a three dimensional plant that stands alone. The buildings are silent amongst the loud winds that rush through the branches, and are invisible behind the deep, warm tones of nature. Before returning to my concrete trail, I will keep in mind where the life of campus resides. My existence circles the trees, and my classroom is not as tall as I once believed.

Image Credit: Home Stratosphere

capstone pt. 12

That all changed when she brought me to the ocean

In those rich minutes the light was warm gold,

viscous, she let it in

floating in the sodium and the waves.

Rocking back and forth

I fought the ocean,

that colossal blue,

as it pulled the warmth from my heavy limbs,

Suspended four inches from the plexiglass surface,

blowing fat bubbles that distorted your reflection.

Time changed that though,

and warm gold became cool to the touch

sad skin

No matter how warm

Rubs against mine

Like pruned fingers

on paper

Scheduling

As graduation comes near, I have filled nearly every block in my schedule with events. I’ve needed to purchase more clothes to accommodate the frequency at which I will need to dress up.

With back-to-back formal events, it feels as though we are making up for a year of lost time. Due to quarantine, I have not worn formal attire in almost two years. This schedule is typical for end-of-year seniors, though I often find myself opening my planner a bit too often out of excitement.

Having a filled calendar gives me something to look forward to each day or week. Even if it’s just a final exam, that day has something written on it. My school planner is running out of pages, and the schedule has grown so long that I may need to purchase next school year’s calendar early.

With all of these plans, I hope that the blank days following graduation will not feel empty. I have plans for the summer as well as college to attend, though, while I look forward to the break, I plan to enjoy every day of this busy May.

Image Credit: Quapaw Area Council

Literature

As I look towards the AP English Literature Exam, I find that my favorite book can be applied to almost any prompt.

When you truly admire a work of literature, you can find obscure concepts within it. The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book to analyze and read. Once you finish a class, you can feel the literature being put behind you as you close each of the books. However, AP English Literature class has given me an opportunity to revisit old stories and use my newer skills to analyze these works further.

I look forward to using my personal collection of stories I’ve read to answer prompts on the AP exam, as it will allow me to reflect on my academic highlights from school. As I recall each story, I can remember the class conversations I’ve participated in and the numerous essays I’ve written. I hope to remember these stories into my older years and apply them to my own life.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Art by Francis Cugat

Pushing through

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.

picture by author

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

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