After three months wandering around back home, we went back to campus for a brand new school year.
After more than one year recovering from the Thomas fire, we finally had an all-school camping trip in the first week.
After the protracted and exhausting travel from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, the busy packing unpacking and packing back, putting everything in order, meeting new people, I got so tired but still tried to make myself look energetic.
An opportunity came up, a chance I could escape from all of this.
Then I was on the bus with my day pack which had my lunch sandwich in it sitting beside me, my huge camping bag with a sleeping pad, bag, clothes and almost everything I need sitting under me in the luggage hold.
3 days without my phone, what a challenge. My phone became a part of me, like an external organ, it stayed with me every single moment during the summertime.
“I will be fine,” I kept telling myself before we departed.
But as it turned out, I was really more than fine without it. I really enjoyed the time spent with my friends. We played card games, went to the tide pools, played volleyball on the beach, watched the sunset, ate s’ mores, brushed our teeth in the dark and so on.
These days, with no phone, feeling isolated from the rest of the world, but closer to what is really around me.
I know the saying: “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it was never meant to be.” It’s true for some people and perfect for them, but it’s shit. Why should I have to set you free to know that you’re the right one?
I love you and I don’t want to set you free to know that. When I look at you, I don’t doubt anything about us, so why should I let you go?
At the same time, I don’t want to hold you back. I know it’s four years and that’s too long to stay in a long distance relationship, but I want to be selfish and keep you.
There is a big chance that you will come back, but how do I know that is going to happen? Four years is a long time, we both could meet new people or become new people.
Part of me wants to ignore every guy I meet in college to make sure I am single when you move to Tennessee, but what if you meet someone that makes you happier than I ever could?
The other part of me wants to move on and date many guys so I am not the one stuck in the past hopelessly in love with someone who found somebody else, but I know that I won’t be able to do that.
I love you so much and I don’t want to hold you back. I wish that this relationship didn’t hold you back, but I guess if it does I will let you go.
I don’t mean in the literal sense of going with a program affiliated with my college. Not for a set period of time with a specific set of courses.
I want to get on a plane and leave. Travel to beautiful destinations around the world I decide to go to right before I get there. I want to study the ancient artwork in museums and the architecture of the untouched, historical buildings. I want to go to small concert venues and listen to local music, but also try all the food the country has to offer without being a picky eater.
I want to meet the people who live there and leave being friends with them or at least leave knowing a part of their story even if I never see them again.
There’s a feeling called sonder: a sudden realization that each passerby has a life as vivid as your own with their own experiences, quirks, and interests. I don’t want to know they have them; I want to live them.
I want to be a tourist in the streets someone has grown up in their whole life, but, soon, find myself a local even only for a couple nights. I want to go to a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that I may never return to, but is someone’s favorite place to go every night. I’ll learn a few words in every language of the countries I visit, a language that might be someone’s only language that I now have a very small understanding of.
When I went to Prague and Vienna over spring break, my favorite part was the free time in the cities. Though we were always in the tourist areas, I sometimes caught a glimpse of what life was like for the people who actually lived there every time I walked into an ice cream shop or passed someone on the streets heading to work.
This world is so big. There’s so many countries to explore and I don’t know if I’ll even get close to covering half of it, but it’s also so small. It’s a ten hour plane ride across the Atlantic and a simple text message to talk to someone across the globe. It’s both incredible and horrifying, but I can’t wait to explore it all.
I’m really confused about how my life is going to go in the future. I know what I want to, I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.
My plan was to go either UCSB, Stanford, USC, or a college in Australia to study Marine Biology and/ or Environmental Science. I would then go to law school and become an environmental lawyer. At college, I would swim and play water polo.
Well, now I’m really in to running. I love triathlons too. I know I’m going to play sports in college, but which ones?
Recently I’ve been thinking about become a humane officer. It pains me to know that so many animals are suffering and abused. I want to dedicate my life to stopping the cruelty that takes place everyday. I want to do this, but there are some issues.
A humane officer makes 32,000 dollars annually. I don’t have millions of dollars in family money, I don’t have a billion dollars in my bank account, and I want to stay in California. I’m afraid 32,000 dollars would not be enough to have a home, a car, and eventually kids.
So, my plan is now to stick with being an environmental lawyer. I still really want to be a humane officer though…
Again, on the topic of money, I realized that I’m not going to have enough money to go to any of the colleges I want to go to. I could go to junior college. It would save a lot of money and I can save up for my next two years at a university.
I also want to take a gap year and go to the Peace Corps…
Will I go straight to a four year school? I wonder where I’m going to live after college? What college am I going to go to? What law school will I go to? Will I still want to be a lawyer, or will my opinions change? What sports will I play? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I get married? Am I going to have kids? When will I retire? Will I become a humane officer?
I don’t know, honestly. But maybe in thirty years, I’ll come back to this post and reflect on everything I did or didn’t do.
I’ll admit, I over dramatize situations in the moment without thinking that the universe is working in ways I don’t understand. It’s one of my many flaws. I, also, realize that maybe the situations I’m crying about will be the ones I’m thankful for looking back at them.
Just two weeks ago, I had a different idea of where I wanted to go to college. When I found out I was waitlisted, I had a breakdown just thinking about it. Yesterday, I committed to a university on the other side of the country, a school completely different from the one I wanted to go to and, in some ways, better.
Last year, this university wasn’t even on my radar. When I was asked back in September if I wanted to consider applying to schools in Washington D.C., I laughed. I never even considered D.C., but I applied anyways, just for fun.
And, by applying, I mean put the application in my Common Application account and completely forget about it. The questions were thought provoking and daunting and my top choice was a school that was supposed to be a safety school. So, I missed the deadline, and I didn’t care.
But, the universe does work in mysterious ways, because the following day, I got an email from the school saying they extended my deadline. Now, I wanted to apply.
It was funny, because right after I applied it quickly became one of my top choices, but I ignored it. I didn’t think I would get in. I didn’t want one of my top schools to be one I didn’t have a chance to get into.
I never thought I would get in. I already got denied and waitlisted from schools with easier acceptance rates and I was getting myself excited about other schools just in case the ones I actually wanted to go to denied me.
Then, last Thursday, I got an email saying decisions would be released at 2:00 pm. The next ten minutes were agonizing; ready to face another rejection letter and accept that I’d go to a school I only really wanted to go to for all the wrong reasons. Then, I opened the portal and clicked the decision. The first words I read were “Congratulations.” Congratulations for being denied? It had to be a mistake, but it wasn’t. I was accepted, I was so happy, and now I’m going to a school on the other side of the country, ready to take on new challenges, a new school, and a new city.
Two weeks ago I was devastated and when my family said something better would come my way, I didn’t believe them. But, they were right for what I want in life, to be immersed into a world of politics, journalism, and law. To have great internship opportunities, explore amazing cities, and study abroad. I couldn’t have ended up in a school better for me.
Those hours of crying were worth it, because if they were hours spent happy, my next four years would be completely different from how they’re going to turn out. I don’t know what will happen. Worst case scenario: I transfer. Best case scenario: I absolutely love the school and spend the next four years there, but one thing’s for sure now: things really do turn out better in the end.
“At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house.” (Thoreau) Write a description of your “home” or your many “homes.” You may write about the home you have or the home you dream of having in your future.
I’ve lived in one house for my entire life, nestled in between two mountain peaks that form the Ojai valley. There are only seven houses on my street, but it was an entire world to explore for my neighbors and me when we were five. We used to walk down to the end of the street and admire the sunset illuminating the overgrown grass and painted white fences. Home, to me, is the smell of the pepper trees that lined the end of the road, forming a green and red arch, as if to welcome me to the end of the cul-de-sac. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days, when time passed so much slower, when it felt like summer all year long.
For as long as I can remember, the ocean is where I find peace. I can’t exactly describe why, but Solimar Beach is a magical place. Home, to me, is poking my toe in the center of a sea anemone, giggling as it squirts water back at me, as its turquoise and bright green tentacles stick to my skin. Home is my dad lifting me up onto his shoulders, then scouring the tidepools, searching for different creatures. As we wade further out into the shallow water, he teaches me about the tides, then we stop for a while to watch the sun sink below the horizon. Solimar is the place I will always want to return to for the rest of my life.
I like to think that, someday, I will make a home everywhere. I’ll sit on the balcony of my tiny apartment in Madrid or Barcelona, peering through my neighbors’ laundry, hung up to dry on clothes lines, down at the bustling city below. I’ll enjoy the morning sun as I sip coffee with condensed milk – a flavor that I despise now, but I think, someday, I’ll come to enjoy. I will smile, knowing that I’m there alone. I’m not sure how long I will be there for, probably not more than a year. After that, I’ll move on to somewhere new. I’ll live in a rainy forest along the Oregon coast, then I’ll go work at a school in Argentina or Chile. I’ll work on a ranch in Mexico, outside of a small fishing town. I don’t really care where I go; I just want to see the world.
It is true that home is where the heart is, but my heart is everywhere, I think. Growing up in a tiny town has made me appreciate the things that are routine. I love the fact that I could probably draw a map of my hometown purely from memory. It’s incredibly comforting to know a place so well that it becomes a part of you. But it has also instilled in me a desire to leave what is comfortable, to explore and to experience every place, culture, and way of life that is different from mine. A home is a place where you can come back to time and time again, and know that you belong, where you would go to without any hesitation. I’m lucky to have places like these.
Snowflake after snowflake is tumbling down on my shoulders, my gloves, my helmet, down my neck where it slowly melts and stains my skin pink. The air in my lungs is so much warmer than the air around me, but I can’t see my breath within all the white and grey falling through the space here.
I can’t see my skis, the snow is now all the way up to my knees. I try and dig a hole down my legs to tighten my boots one more time. I look around, look up to my siblings that are beside me, the only spots of color within my vision. One more time, my brother throws a snowball at me. I laugh and get a little mad internally, but now is not the time. Now is the time to be happy.
We all get out the handles for our ABS avalanche backpacks and connect them to the left shoulder strap. Our guide looks at us, and says “Geht schon!”, meaning “Okay, let’s go!”. We all push our poles into the snow in front of us and hop out of the deep powder as if it was nothing.
Here it goes.
The first second is nothing but exhilarating. I feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I float down the mountain, constantly fighting the curves and dips in the snow in order to not face plant. Stay away from the trees, stay away from the edge, don’t cross here, you might set off an avalanche. Just go, you love this.
The powder is fresh; we are the only ones here. This was definitely worth the long hike.
I am cold, but I can feel myself starting to sweat. My boots are too loose, don’t lose focus or you’ll twist your ankle. The snow is melting on my mask; the cold air is freezing it into solid ice. My braid is now white and covered in snow crystals. My breath is now in sync with my dashes, it’s cold and hard through my mouth and it hurts to breathe in; my nose is nearly closed up with ice. Just keep going. You don’t get to do this every day.
There is a steep part ahead. Look at your guide, your siblings, follow their lead. They’re better than you. It’s okay, you’re still doing it. The path is narrow, don’t hit the trees, watch out for the branches, the snow on top of them. Focus, use your legs, stay strong. We haven’t stopped this entire time and my feet and thighs are hurting. It’s good. Look ahead, there’s a lip. Jump, try not to fall, think of how hard it would be to get back up. You don’t want to make everyone else stop for you.
There it is, the bottom of the hill. From now on, it’s flat. There are some bumps, we try and jump and push each other over, race each other, spin around and go backwards. We did it.
We have to cross a stream; there’s a fallen tree trunk to walk on. The stomped-down snow on it makes it slippery and, with tired knees, we all make our way across. Now, all that’s left is a long way back to the town, an hour of walking and pushing through the trees in the valley. I’m really getting hot now; I have to open my jacket, unzip the sides of my pants, but it’s good. I feel good.
We get back to the ski lift and catch one of the last rides. Looking out through the slowly darkening alps around me, I see the mountain we had hiked up this morning in the distance. I feel tired, I feel hungry and sore, but the feeling of victory and accomplishment you get when you finally get to take off your heavy boots and cold, wet gloves makes up for everything that has been aching for the past few hours.