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 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.
“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.
I can’t wait for this summer. You know, in the past, people have always told me that junior year is gonna be harder than all the other years. But I had no idea that they were actually right about that!
I’m mentally and now even physically so exhausted that I don’t want to do anything but sleep. But guess what! I can’t!
That’s why I can’t wait for summer. I can actually sleep then. I won’t have anything to do but read, ride horses, go for runs with my dog, probably study for the SAT, go to my summer journalism program, and travel. I’m so excited to travel!
In the US everything seems to be so far apart. If you go on a two hour train ride here, you get to another city in the state. But if I go on a two hour train ride from my hometown, I end up in another country. I can’t wait to go to Paris, to Amsterdam, Berlin, to Greece.
I also really can’t wait to ride my horse again. I am so glad that I get to ride at my school here, I am so thankful for that, but it’s so different from my barn at home. I can go there whenever I want, I can stay there as long as I want, go on trail rides through the fields and forests, and I can actually get lessons. So, obviously, I can’t wait.
Of course I’ll miss all my friends here, as always. I’ll miss the amazing weather in California, and the amazing avocados and oranges, that simply don’t taste the same in Germany. But I can’t even tell you just how excited I am for this summer!
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.
In January, I got the chance to miss three days of school and head up to Vancouver to watch the production of my favorite tv show,The 100. Now I probably know what a lot of people were thinking: this girl went on vacation to meet Bob Morley? Actually, yes, but while I did get to meet my favorite actors, eat sixty five dollar filet mignon, and find out so many spoilers for the show – and no, I’m not sharing – I also learned so much about the filming industry that I didn’t know before.
A one minute scene that seems so well put together takes hours to be made. Literally, one small scene, and it won’t even be the entirety of it. I went to the outside set for one day, and they filmed the same scene for hours, and when I left they were still filming the same scene. It was absolutely fascinating how they did it. They filmed from every angle with multiple cameras. They’d have the same actor repeat the same line a hundred times just to capture a different detail of their face from a different angle from multiple cameras.
The CW has the weirdest rules. For starters, actors could say any cuss word known to mankind, but they aren’t allowed to say the Lord’s name in vein. Also, actors aren’t allowed to show side boob in the shows. At all. So, basically the dresses lots of actresses wear at movie premiers would not be allowed on any of the tv shows from The CW we know and love.
They usually don’t rehearse. Apparently they get their lines, have fifteen minutes of their own time to figure it out, and then get in front of a camera. That’s a part of the reason why there are so many bloopers, and so many retakes of several scenes. Their rehearsal is the filming.
The camera makes people look bigger than they actually are. Not fatter, just bigger. When I met the actors, they were so much smaller than I expected, because they were a fourth of the size of what they look like on screen. They weren’t short or tall specifically, just tiny. It was definitely not what I expected.
I’m pretty sure that I learned a lot more things from that trip that I couldn’t have ever learned inside of a classroom, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head.