One Year

One year ago I remember clearly.

I had my guitar on my shoulder, leaving the warm dorms to trek across the chilly campus to my weekly music lesson, but the air was different than usual.

Everyone was huddled outside, talking as they saw smoke in the distance and hues of red burning in the sky that felt so distant at that moment.

“Are you really going to your lesson right now? There’s a fire,” my friend asked me.

Of course I would go to my lesson. It was my favorite part of Monday nights. Plus, the fire was nowhere near us, nothing would happen, and nothing would change.

Oh, how I was wrong.

Everything changed.

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Yet, so many things stayed the same.

One year later, I’m getting ready to go to my Monday night guitar lesson.

I have a new guitar, but it means so much more now. I appreciate it more now.

I’m still in a dorm room, wondering what I’ll be getting for secret snowflake tomorrow.

But I’m in a new dorm room, with a new roommate, on a new part of campus.

I don’t have the same clothes I had a year ago. The same photos, yearbooks, or blankets.

But, I have the photos I’ve taken since then.

My stuffed animal and All Time Low pillow I saved from the fire.

I still have the memories of the fire.

The ones that haunt me.

The ones that bring me to tears thinking about what I lost, what my friends lost, and what the whole school lost.

But, the memories remind me of how I became a stronger person since.

How my friends became stronger.

How the school became stronger.

How the county’s stronger.

More united.

More appreciated.

I still remember the day I returned from Christmas break and stepped on to campus and moved into the new dorms.

Being welcomed by overwhelming support, welcome back goodie bags, and hugs from my friends.

Seeing my horse for the first time since the fire and knowing he was safe and healthy. That all the other horses were safe.

The fire was so destructive, so horrible, but so many things came out of it that I’m more thankful now for than ever.

It’s been one year and I’m still sensitive to the scent of smoke and fire, to the sound of news about other California fires on the TV.

But, one year later, the mountains are a little greener.

My home is still stronger than ever.

And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

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I am not Sad

I assumed things I shouldn’t have.

I thought it was a date.

But, I’m not sad it wasn’t.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I thought about my outfit for days.

I planned everything out, down to the perfume I was going to wear.

But, I am not sad that I did that all for nothing.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

We were supposed to drive around and do stupid things in our cars.

Instead, we sat in your truck and watched the sunset, talking for hours.

I am not sad I spent that time with you.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

The way we talked was not how friends talk.

The things that were said were clearly more than friendly.

But, I am not sad it meant nothing.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I blabbered about us hanging out and me having feelings for you.

Then I asked if it was a date and if you were into me and all I heard was you weren’t over your ex.

I am not sad.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I know you need time and I understand that, but why did you let me believe that there was something between us?

I am sad that you flirted with me.

I am disappointed that she is still in your head, but I understand.

(I’m calling dibs when you’re ready)

A Red-Hot Reminder

There is another wildfire.

It started in Thousand Oaks, which is about an hour away from here, and it’s already taken 10,000 acres of land.

Photo Credit: cdn.cnn.com   (Thousand Oaks)

I try not to let it trigger me; I try to see it as one of the many catastrophes that have become a norm in our lives. But, I hear the wind blowing through our mobile dorms, that we’ve lived in since the Thomas Fire, and I can’t help but remember.

I remember it all. I remember the red cloud rising up behind the hills. I remember the dorm meeting we had, how they told us that the winds weren’t blowing our way, that we were safe. I remember having to evacuate in the middle of study hall, leaving nearly everything behind without even realizing that it all would be gone the next day. I remember finding out that our campus caught on fire. I remember not being able to leave the house without a smoke mask for days and it always looking like the sun was setting. I remember staring at that bright red sun, hoping for our clean blue skies to come back.

I don’t want to be dramatic. It could have been so much worse. But, being reminded of the fact that so much is gone and will forever remain gone and that, right now, there are people going through the exact same horrible thing, isn’t exactly pleasant.

Maybe I’m being oversensitive. Maybe I should be realistic and move on. Eventually, I will move on, but not quite yet. For now, I’ll be sitting on my bed, trying to tune out the wind pressing up against my window, staring at my packed bag in the corner.

Photo Credit: accuweather.brightspotcdn.com    (Thomas Fire)

Creeping it Real: High School Halloween

When I was three, my parents told me about the Halloween Pumpkin. I could keep as many pieces of candy as my age and if I put my the rest of my candy on the door step before I went to bed, the Halloween Pumpkin would come during the night and leave me a toy. They made sure to tell me that he would only come if you gave him a couple days notice and only my parents could deliver my wish to the Halloween Pumpkin. At least a week before October 31st,  I would contemplate for hours (or at least what felt like hours to a young child) about what types of candy I would keep and what amazing toy I would receive the morning after Halloween.

Last night, my friend and I went to go to a haunted house. The house was closed, so they gave us a bunch of candy. I figured, I’m really not going to eat this because of carbs, sugar, and the amount of calories. When I got home, I went up to my parents’ room.”Bey, remember the halloween pumpkin,” I asked. “If I put this on the door step, will it magically turn in to twenty bucks by tomorrow morning? Tell ya what, I won’t even keep fifteen pieces”

“Nice try,” my parents said. “But, no.”

When I was younger, I remember going trick or treating every year.  I would count down the minutes until I could knock on doors and hold out my spookily-decorated candy basket. My friends would start counting down the days until the magical holiday as soon as October 1st rolled around.

Nowadays, it seems my Halloweens consist of hours of homework with the occasional  annoying interruption of happy children knocking on the door.

Sometimes, I wish I could just put my Halloween candy on the front porch and the Halloween Pumpkin would come during the night and give me what I wished for: the chance to be kid again.

Photo Credit: foxnews.com

Here Now, a Long Time Ago.

Do you ever wonder what the world looked like before anyone was here?

What would the earth look like if there were no buildings, no cars, no sign that it had been touched by any human ever.

Take a look around at exactly where you are right now. Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes, and try to picture it.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

I think there would be lots of dry grass where I am. If I were to lay down on the ground, I would slowly sink into the scratchy brush until my back met the hard dirt below.

The air would be cool. There would be lots of oak trees everywhere.

A creek might curve its way through the little valley, slowly moving across the open space. Supposedly there used to be one, but it’s long gone now.

It’s night time. The sky would be so dark, but the stars would be so bright, speckled against the blackness.

I’m not quite sure what it would sound like. I know there would be wind, rustling the brush a little bit. The barn owls, coyotes, and mountain lions would roam through the hills, looking for something to eat.

I’ve never known the world when it was untouched, the way it was supposed to be. But, I think about it all of the time.

I wish I could be there.

 

My Tuesday Run

Image from redbirdhills.com

In cross county, my coaches always remind us that the sport has as much to do with mental strength as it does physical strength.

With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to come running with me – for the mental part, at least.

Here’s what a few miles look like inside of my head.

Mile 1:
Don’t start too fast, just get warmed up.
It’s hot today, but not as bad as it usually is. The gravel crunches beneath my shoes. We reach a little bit of downhill.
I hear my coach’s voice: “Let gravity do the work.”
Get your breathing back. Drop your arms. Shake it out.
The road in front of us curves up a long hill. It’s steep.
Slow it down. What hurts worse, lungs or legs? Legs. I can breathe still.
My calves tighten the farther up we climb. I count my steps between each exhale. We’re running in 4/4 time. I inhale on the 1st beat, exhale through 2, 3, 4.

Mile 2:
Sweat drips down my forehead. I wipe it off with my shirt.
Take it easy now.
My breathing is steady – that’s good. My left calf hurts more than my right. The opposite of yesterday.
This hill is a bitch. Settle in, we’ll be here for a while.
It hurts.

Mile 3:
Keep your arms down. Breathe.
The road settles and is flat for a while.
You’re not tired, it just hurts.

Mile 4:
What hurts worse, lungs or legs? Both. You’re not tired, you just can’t breathe. There’s a difference.
The next two miles are steady uphill.
Use your arms! The harder you work the faster you’ll be done.

Mile 5:
This hill is a BITCH.
My ragged breathing is louder than my shoes on the pavement. Sweat covers my whole body. My arms ache from pumping and the muscles in my legs feel like they’re made of both cement and water at the same time. My mouth is so dry that when I touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth it sticks.
Eyes up, on the road. So close. I feel awful.
I can’t breathe. The smell of wood chips in the orchard makes me want to puke. Push.
Everything hurts.

The Finish:
I jog past the green gate the marking the end of the road, the end of the run. My left foot leaves the pavement and lands on grass and the right follows.
Don’t sit down. Breathe.
As I walk back and forth beneath the oak trees, my lungs start to settle down. The tension in my legs slowly fades, first easing up in my quads and then from my calves.
My breathing returns to normal. I’m not hurting anymore.
I just ran five miles.
I feel good.

 

A Senior Rant

So, just a thought: when you know that the first semester of senior year is already ultimate hell as it is, don’t try and stuff more work into it by moving the Senior Seminar into the first semester!

I know that there is probably some reason behind it that makes some kind of sense, but I just don’t know it. Just saying, it wasn’t the smartest move.

Photo Credit: kmox.radio.com

In these upcoming months, we now not only have to apply to colleges, perfect out SAT and ACT scores, and  try and boost our grades as much as possible, but we’re also going to have to try and get our entire senior project done by March. I know that, essentially, it doesn’t make a huge difference time-wise for most people, because, let’s be honest, we’ll most likely all procrastinate anyways. But, I know that there are also some people that have already planned on having an entire school year to finish their projects because that’s simply how much time they need.

I know that I should probably be writing college essays right now instead of ranting about something I can’t change anyways, but this is just one of those things that make me want to bury myself six feet underground. Gotta love being a senior!