The Beginning of the End

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.

Photo Credit: The Odyssey Online

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.

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A Letter To My Younger Self

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.

Photo Credit: takemygist.com

NYC Memories

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.

Photo Credit: thebrunchboys.com

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.

Photo Credit: thegreenspace.org

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.

A Desire For Summer

As each day gets closer and closer to June 1, and the months pass, my heart yearns for summer to finally happen.

Today was the first sunny day in California for weeks, and as I lied by the pool with the sun beaming in the sky and minimal clouds in the distance, I imagined myself at the beach in front of my house, with my sunglasses on and the crashing waves against the sandy shores.

Now, as I accept the fact that I will keep having to imagine my summer days until they actually happen, I will live these daydreams through the stories I write and the dreams that come to me in my sleep.

I can’t write about every single thing I’m excited for about summer 2018, but here are a few:

The concerts. I’m always excited about concerts, but I feel like the shows I go to this year will be exceptionally memorable. I will see G-Eazy for a second time. The show will be in an outside amphitheater, and I will be at the barricade with the hundreds of people who showed up. The stars will be bright, but the streams of neon light beaming from the stage will be even brighter. Then there will be the Warped Tour dates. The days I wake up early and return home late, my body covered head to toe in sweat and dust, my voice will ache along with my legs. Yet as I fall asleep, replaying the memory of All Time Low singing on main stage with the sunset across the horizon peeking over the back of the stage, my mind will fill with memories and my heart full of happiness.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The beach. Considering I have family both in Santa Barbara and Laguna Beach, I don’t actually spend time on the beach nearly enough. However, this time I hope that changes. I can’t wait to walk down the steps from my house to the beach, lie down my beach blanket and read my favorite book in the sun all day every day. Maybe I’ll go into the water if the waves aren’t harsh, or maybe I’ll get an acai bowl. At the end of the day, I’d head back up to my house with sun kissed skin and beach blonde waves. I’ll wash the sea salt water off my sandy skin, and I’ll curl up under the covers with popcorn, a scary movie, and my dog beside the bed, and I’ll know in that moment that life couldn’t get any better than that.

Lastly, I can’t wait for the freedom. I can’t wait to not have to follow a strict schedule from school, or have my adventures be limited to a mountain in the middle of Ojai. I’ll be free to wake up however early or however late I want. I can watch the sunrise from my balcony, and the sunset from a hammock. I can go take the trolley down to Banzai Bowls and get my favorite acai bowl. I can go to Disneyland or go to the gym. I can take trains up to LA to visit my friends, or travel to different beaches to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The possibilities are overwhelmingly endless.

June is a long time away. I should be focusing on APs and English essays, but summer please come sooner. I’m waiting for you.

Thanks For The Memories

June 22, 2014 still remains a clear memory in the back of my head.

It was my first time ever going to Vans Warped Tour, and for being a middle schooler obsessed with Mayday Parade and All Time Low, it was a dream come true for my emo self.

Something about Warped Tour is just more magical than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ve been to too many concerts to count on my fingers and toes, but which concert is one of my favorites? Definitely Warped Tour.

Warped Tour was beautiful in every sense of the word. So many different people were there. Girls with colorful neon hair, and boys with stretched ears and tattoos over their arms and backs. There were little kids on their parents shoulders, screaming the lyrics to every heavy metal song that played. Worries never existed at Warped Tour. Everyone was happy, and that happiness was contagious.

The crowds were huge and endless. Everyone constantly pushed to the front, crowd surfers were above my head every few minutes, and band members were jumping into the crowds encouraging everyone to let loose. There were no rules at Warped Tour. Everyone was accepted there, and it was accepted for everyone to go crazy.

The cross-country music festival has been going on for over twenty years. Bands like My Chemical Romance, All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and so many more started there before they were even famous. It hasn’t just been a place that has made my dreams come true, but it has jump-started the careers of so many bands that I love more than anything in my life.

Photo Credit: thebandbloggers.com

When I first went to Warped Tour in 2014, I remember waiting in line to go in, and I ended up seeing the drummer of one of my favorite bands walking through the lines selling cds. When I walked inside, I ran straight to the main stage when I heard “Check Yes, Juliet” playing by We The Kings. Shortly after, I found the singer of We The Kings signing autographs and giving hugs to people for free. I saw over ten bands that day, including Linkin Park, a band who just decided to show up for that day and perform a set. They only performed one Warped Tour show ever in the history of the tour, and I was there to experience it.

Then I went to Warped Tour again in 2015 with my best friend. It was over 100 degrees that day, and I almost passed out in a mosh pit from dehydration. I stumbled out of an Attila crowd covered in dirt head to toe, and I went through three water bottles before I regained enough energy to jump straight into another crowd for another band.

No matter the location, Warped Tour was where anything could happen. I was in the crowd for Black Veil Brides when I got a text from my friend telling me she met four different band members just walking around. That only happens at Warped Tour, because the bands who go there have such a strong connection with their fans that they just walk around the festival they’re performing at. There’s no overwhelming paparazzi, or security guards following the members around, and there’s no one making the band members uncomfortable.

That’s what made the music festival so special for me. There was a connection between everyone there. There was a connection between the bands and the fans, and connections between strangers. Even if you didn’t know the person, if you sang with them at one set, the connection was there. In 2014, I left my sister to head into the crowd for Falling In Reverse. There I met a guy who I rapped along with to “Bad Girls Club” and “I’m Not A Vampire,”  and I knew every word to those songs too, and I still do. But we were there, complete strangers horribly belting out the lyrics to two amazing songs, and I still smile at the memory years later. The connection was the music all these strangers had gone there to see.

Warped Tour has always been a second home for me, and I always hoped that I’d still be attending the festival when I was forty, or that I’d be going to the festival with my college friends. Sadly, 2018 is the last full cross-country run of Warped Tour ever.

When I found that out I was heartbroken. I had only gone to the festival twice, but they were some of the best experiences of my life, and I regret missing the last two years. After this year, there’ll be no more Warped Tour. No more memories to create, but the ones I made I could never forget.

However, I’m going to go to all the Southern California dates. I will run as fast as I can in the circle pits, I will hug all the band members I can, and I will sing my heart out while the sun sets over the horizon behind the stages. I will crowd surf to the front, and I will probably fall several times attempting it, but it’ll be worth it one last time.

Summer can’t come soon enough, but once it does, and once I step into the fairgrounds where Warped Tour is, I’ll never want to leave. I’ll never want it to end.

Nostalgia

I miss waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch my favorite cartoons.

Now I struggle to wake myself up, even in the afternoon.

I miss wearing zebra print leggings under neon pink skirts and Hannah Montana shirts to top it off.

Now the worries about people judging the dirt at the bottom of my shoes to the fabric of my cardigan consume me to the point of anxiety.

I miss being excited about Christmas. I miss waking up early and running out of my bedroom in my pajamas to sit around the Christmas tree and open gifts. I miss making cookies for a Santa I once believed in.

Now I know his existence was a mere tale.

Now Christmas itself is a mere tale to me.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

I miss believing. I miss believing in fairies and elves, and having adults feed me those tales to keep my imagination strong.

I miss dancing around the room like no one was watching. I miss dancing to music that actually had a meaning.

Now, all I hear is deafening dubstep and meaningless, degrading rap. Now all I see is grinding.

I missed when I could sing at the top of my lungs, and no one would say I was bad even though we all knew I was.

I miss when the most dramatic thing at school was two seven year olds holding hands under a desk, not finding out drugs were killing your best friends.

I miss being young. When I’d see celebrities on big screens and wish to be like them one day. Now I know who they really are, all their messed up scandals and drunken photos taken by paparazzi.

I guess what I miss most is being a child. I don’t miss my childhood, but I miss when I was young. When I wasn’t stressed about school, when the biggest worry of my life was if Miley was going to get with Jesse or Jake, and when I could always be happy.

I’m Sure As Hell The Happiest I’ve Ever Been

I never really knew what true happiness was until July 7th, 2017. Sure, I’ve been happy before. I smile, I laugh, but never have I experienced a day where pure happiness radiated through the whole room and it was so contagious that it made me happy also. I’ve never genuinely and truly experienced happiness without something in the back of my head keeping me upset, but July 7th was a different night. Ironically, the room full of these positive souls are also people dealing with their own battles every day, including myself. I may not know what those battles were for them, but everyone left those worries outside the room and didn’t let it affect them for the rest of the night.

It’s not what made this the happiest night of my life, but who made it the best night I’ve ever experienced. I got to meet my favorite band, All Time Low, for the first time ever. I remember when I got the email saying that I was selected to be one of the thirty people to meet them for free. My hands were shaking with excitement. I can’t even remember if I started crying, but if I did they were probably tears of happiness.

I obsess over lots of things. Pretty much the only things I ever talk about are every single TV show on the planet, how Jack Dawson should’ve lived, and All Time Low. So, when I had the opportunity to stand center barricade in front of my favorite band belting out the lyrics to my favorite songs while surrounded by the most amazing people, I was truly content.

The image of meeting All Time Low is still clear in my head. Taking my first steps towards them, Jack Barakat, my favorite band member, was already walking towards me with arms wide open before pulling me into a bear hug. Every single one of them did this. They didn’t have to, but they do anyways.

Photo Credit: Live Nation

They meet hundreds of fans every day, yet when I went into that room it seemed like I was the only one they knew, and obviously that’s not true, but they had this crazy ability to make every single fan feel like they were singing to them, talking to them, or looking at them.

I’ve never seen a band care so much for their fans. At my concert, they stopped their set twice because they were worried about these girls who passed out in the middle of the crowd. Afterwards, they made everyone clear their path to get these girls out safely. They invite their fans up on stage to dance and sing with them at every concert. They created a whole music video Skyping their fans and thanking them for being the reason for their success, though the fans were really thanking the band for caring enough to have a personal conversation with their fans. The song itself , Missing You, was dedicated to every single one of their fans begging for them to stay alive, and it’s still one of the most emotional songs I know to this day.

It’s not just the band, but it’s the community the band has made that is so amazing. I’m not outgoing, at all, but while I was standing in line to meet them, I ended up talking randomly to these two girls. I knew nothing about them, but by the end of the night we were talking about our pasts and our passions after already standing next to each other at the barricade singing at the top of our lungs to Therapy even though everyone was crying on each other at that point. I still keep in contact with them, and I still talk to the girls I met all the way in 2015 through twitter talking about this band.

To this day, July 7th was still the best day of my life.

To this day, since 5th grade, All Time Low has always been my favorite band.

To this day, from watching their cringe worthy yet hilarious interviews and videos from 2005 to their extremely inappropriate jokes they make on concert, they have never failed to make me laugh my ass off.

To this day, I still listen to their songs whenever I have a bad day, and they still manage to make me smile like I did that night.

Photo Credit: The Aquarian Weekly