I’ve started to realize it’s the little things I change about my day that make me feel so much better.
I’ve started studying outside during my free blocks. Even when I’m not doing work, I just sit outside on my phone instead of inside my dimly lit, stuffy dorm room. It feels so much better having both the sun and light breeze against my skin, keeping me warm and cool at the same time. It’s more refreshing, though I’m not doing anything more than sitting outside.
I’ve started getting up early again. I get up around six a.m. now and, despite sleeping less hours, I feel more awake than when I’d sleep in until 7:40. I get up and force myself to go running because even if I’m tired in the moment, I feel wide awake for the rest of the day. I have time to go to breakfast, less time to rush to get ready for classes, and more time to hang out with friends in the morning. I’m no longer starving by the third class of the day or falling asleep by the fourth.
It’s a good feeling finally being motivated to do the small things that make drastic changes to how my days turn out for me and I’m appreciating every day so much more because of it.
When I think about May 31st, 2019, I think about what I’m leaving behind when I walk across the amphitheater to get my high school diploma.
I’m leaving behind the campus I’ve called my home the past four years, the classes where I challenged myself and found my passions, and the teachers who helped me find those passions. I’m leaving behind my friends, who I won’t see at breakfast every morning or go on camping trips with anymore.
These last four years weren’t always easy. As much as I’ve loved them, they were some of the most challenging years of my life. But, one thing made life away from home just a little easier to manage and it wasn’t my teachers or friends.
It was my horse. A bay, appendix quarter horse named Time who I’ve been riding since my freshman year. My family always asks me what I’ll miss the most about OVS when I leave and the answer is always the same: Time.
When the Thomas Fire came on December 4th, 2017, I panicked as we were evacuating on the bus thinking my horse wasn’t going to make it out alive. I cried myself to sleep, despite the constant reassurances. Over the summer, I ended up crying again when I went three months without riding and, more specifically, without riding Time. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I have to say goodbye to him during the last week of school knowing that it’ll be the last goodbye. Knowing hat I won’t be getting back on once summer is over. Knowing that one day, towards the end of May, I will untack for the last time and possibly never get back on him. That, the following September, he’ll get a new rider and I’ll be at a university in a completely different city. I hope that rider loves that freaking horse as much as I do, though. Sometimes I wonder if that’s possible.
So many things happened the last four years with Time by my side. I went with him to my first horse show, on my first horse camping trip, my first dressage clinic, and my first injury, which he gave me after he threw me off at said horse show. Even though I got a fractured back, the story was still funny and memorable.
I can imagine leaving OVS and going off to college, but I can’t imagine leaving Time. I can’t imagine my school day not consisting of me going to the barn at the end of the day and getting on him whether the lesson ends up going well or not. I wish I could take him with me to college, but it’s probably not possible.
Last Friday, my aunt and uncle came to watch me ride. “I don’t understand how some people just let go of their horses or sell them,” my aunt said. “They’re pets too.”
Time may have not be mine legally, but he is mine. At least, I like to say he is and, at least, many other people thought Time was mine before I told them he wasn’t. But, he is my horse. The horse I’ve ridden for all of high school and the animal I’ve developed a bond with.
I’m not ready to let Time go, but I’ll have to and I will. Even if it might be one of the most painful things I’ll ever have to do.
When I stepped into my first class at the beginning of freshman year, senior year seemed so far away.
Now, I just survived my first week of being a senior and too many realizations hit me at once.
That, at the end of the year, I won’t be sitting on the bleachers watching my friends from higher grades graduate. This time, I’ll be the one walking on the stage to receive my diploma that I worked so hard to get over my high school years.
But, it’s only the beginning of the year. There’s still so much to anticipate. So much to go through.
The countless college applications and dreadful Saturday mornings I’ll spend doing the SAT until I get the perfect score so I can get into the perfect college. The ideas for my senior project that I still can’t choose, because I don’t even have one in mind. What my prom dress will look like, or even my graduation dress.
It’s only the beginning of my final year at OVS. It’s the beginning of the end of my high school experience.
It hurts knowing at the end of the year I’ll have to say goodbye to everything I’ve known. To my friends and teachers, to my horse, and to the small town and smaller school that has been my second home.
But, I’m still hopeful that this will be an amazing year, and maybe my days at OVS will only be in my memories and I’ll be living a completely different life, but I’ll still remember them as the most important times in my life.
You’d be surprised how often I write letters to people I can’t send them to. I write them to mom, dad, past friends, future friends, animals, and now I’m writing one to you, my younger self.
I could just see your face reading this. You’d scoff, then toss it aside not wanting to read it. You were never a fan of reading; now you read all the time.
You’d be surprised how much has changed.
I no longer want to be a movie star, nor is UCLA my top choice. In fact, I want to be a lawyer, and I want to go all the way to the other side of the country and pursue law in New York City.
Hannah Montana isn’t my favorite artist anymore, and Wizards of Waverly Place is shockingly not my favorite TV show anymore.
Instead, you went through the embarrassing seventh grade emo phase you shamed Rachel for going through.
If I’m honest with you, younger self, I’m so much different than I thought I’d be.
Some things stayed the same. Logan is still alive, I still love horses, and I still love to sing- though the older I get the worse I seem to become.
But, oh boy, I am definitely not the person I thought I’d become.
I no longer have hair that goes down to my hips, instead it’s right below my shoulders.
I dont have beach blonde hair or sun-kissed, clear skin. I have glasses, and I have freckles, and I have scars.
I don’t go to a big public school where I’m the most popular girl. I don’t go to beach parties on the weekends or sneak out of my bedroom window at night time. Instead, I go to a small boarding school. Instead, I spend weekends going to the movies and riding horses.
I haven’t had a boyfriend yet, but I really could care less. It was something I dreamed of, but now all I dream about is getting into college or passing my math test.
This may not sound appealing to you. You always dreamed of the crazy nights, city lights, and the “celebrity” life, and maybe a glimpse of that dream will come true in NYC, but trust me when I say what’s happened after mom and dad is quite possibly the best thing that could’ve ever happened to us.
Life has gotten so much better. I’m writing this letter contently from the warmth of my bed, music through my headphones. Summer begins in five days, and I’ll be going to Disneyland, one of your favorite places, a week from today. You used to be obsessed with Maroon 5, and I finally see them next Tuesday.
Though you had all these dreams when you were younger, none of them seemed possible due to our circumstances. They were all just dreams in arms reach, yet they seemed so far away.
Well, I’m glad to say that I’ll be a senior in just a few days. That while my dreams weren’t the same as they were when I was younger, they’re coming true, and I hope you’re proud of me.
Contrasting the small, quaint towns where I’ve grown up in California, New York City was a breath of fresh, exciting air with life awaiting at the end of every corner walked.
My first night in New York was magical. I arrived around 10 at night, and looking out the window I was in awe of all the city lights illuminated in the distance. I couldn’t see all of them yet, but I knew they’d be tall and magical.
The cab ride was no different. With the hood of the roof of the taxi cab rolled back, I felt small as I saw the bright city lights tower over me, skyscraper after skyscraper appeared for the whole hour of driving until we arrived at our Airbnb in Greenwich Village.
At 12:30 we finally headed outside for dinner, and every restaurant was open. At TWELVE THIRTY at night, every restaurant was open, while in Santa Barbara anywhere but a bar is usually closed by 10 pm at the latest. You’re lucky if anything is open in LA.
But New York City is just filled with amazing life and even more amazing food. Every single restaurant I went to had artichokes, and I love artichokes. It’d be a miracle if I found them at a restaurant excluding Sea Fresh and Cheesecake Factory in California.
But that’s just one food item. We ate at a different restaurant every single night. From small vintage American diners playing 2000’s throwbacks to luxurious, high-end Italian restaurants or steakhouses, every place was delicious.
But one place that sticks out in my mind is BlackTap. The small, bar-seated burger place only fit thirteen people. The place had an hour long line, but when we refused to wait and came back a calmer day, we finally understood why the place was so popular. The food was phenomenal, but the true wow factor of the place was their milkshakes.
The milkshakes were insane. From cookies supreme to the birthday shake, these shakes towered over the cups they were put in with overdoses of sugar and sweetness. I had a cookies & cream shake which left me in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.
Though most of my memories of NYC occurred in a restaurant, there are so many more that they’d be difficult to count on my fingers and toes, but I’ll name a few.
The Saturday after we arrived, I eagerly ran over to Washington Square Park from the place I was staying to participate in a massive pillow fight on National Pillow Fight Day. Hundreds of people piled into the park with pillows in their hands and grins on their faces in a fight to the “death” in a friendly, but intense, pillow fight. It was one of the purest experiences I ever had the privilege to take part in. Feathers exploded into the air, laughter silenced the playful screams, and pillows were thrown.
I did many more things in New York City. I walked around the city so much that my feet had blisters that hurt to the point that I’m still limping now (it was worth it), I visited three universities and absolutely fell in love with NYU, and I explored every inch of Times Square. However, by far my favorite were the three broadway shows I went to.
First I went to the Book of Mormon. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I didn’t listen to the soundtrack prior to going, but the performance exceeded my expectations. First, it was the most hilarious show I had ever been to. It was completely satirical about the Mormon faith, but it was executed perfectly with amazing acting, and catchy songs that are still stuck in my head. However, the musical is highly offensive so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone highly religious or offended easily by extreme stereotypes, but it’s definitely worth paying the money to go see.
The day after I went to go see Kinky Boots. The night before I had a midlife crisis because my NYU tour and Kinky Boots show were planned at the same time. I shouldn’t be melodramatic, but when my aunt told me that they’d just go see Kinky Boots without me, I almost died. I had been excited about that show for months, and I had been dying to go see it since Brendon Urie starred in it. Thankfully, we were able to exchange our tickets for the night performance and I was able to experience the magic of Kinky Boots. I had heard nothing but positive reviews, and when I went to the show I left happier than ever. It was original, unique, and just saying, those men walk better in six inch heels than I ever will.
Completely last minute, my Aunt and I headed into Times Square and snatched last minute seats to The Lion King. Somehow ending up in the seventh row of the center orchestra, I was ready for three hours to experience one of the most iconic shows on Broadway. I was shocked how much effort was put into the show. The costume design was crazy. I didn’t know where to look during the opening number when people dressed head to toe in animal costumes walked down the aisles singing the Circle of Life while walking onto the stage. Everything about all these shows was amazing.
I could go on about my trip in New York for hours, but this is just a glimpse of it, and I am dying to be back there soon.