Year Long Journey
"Nothing gold can stay."
This year was, something. I started my journey as an 8th grade writer with the feeling in the back of my mind, theres no way people like what I write. No way at all. I was writing, but I didn't enjoy it, it didn't change anything about my life, it was just school work. I realize now why. It took writing about thing that I truly feel strongly about, it took the freedom of choice writing to discover myself. Before this year I had no clue who I was, no clue at all. I used to think about things, and not be able to move on. I had no way to channel myself, no way to express anything, joy, anger, sadness and more. I was trapped in a shell, and thanks to Fitz, I am at last free. I still am sad and angry at times, but finally, I know how to cope with it. I know who I am now. I thought I was just another kid, everything is great in life, politics and global issues have no influence, I was just another shell of a person. The discoveries I made about myself this year will change my life forever. I know how to escape from everything now. I will be using the tools, the strategies and the realizations I made and was taught, for the rest of my life. This year was something, it has its ups and downs, many downs actually. But this year was life changing.
Back in the beginning of the year, I was just another Fenn student, I had everything handed to me on a silver platter, but as Fitz says, "Nothing gold can stay," I realize how true that is now. All of a sudden everything went downhill, the promising start to my year became a promising start to the upcoming failure I expected. My grandma passing away changed my life, and not in a good way. I became distant, and had no clue how to cope with it. I tried escaping through forgetting, but that doesn't work, at least for me. I had to discover a "loophole" and find a way out of this hole I was digging for myself. Things were getting worse every day, my grades were slipping, my homework was late, every day, I thought the whole world wanted to see me loose the game we all know as life. I now know that the only thing against me, was myself, I wasn't letting me move on, I got caught up in the sad and forgot that there was another way of life, greeting the world with a smile, instead of tears. I know making that realization wouldn't have changed anything, because I didn't know how to change anything. I needed to discover myself, not who everyone wanted me to be, but who I wanted to be. I needed to let go of all the pain, I needed to restart. I didn't know how. I was lost. I got stuck thinking, if only I could have been there, if only I cherished that last good bye, if only I was better. If only. Those are the questions that tear us apart, they ruin everything. It a slap to the face to shake these thoughts off, a slap of literature, music and writing. It took the knowledge of how to explain why you are sad, to cure my sadness. The sadness is not over, it wont for a long, long time. But I know, if I had a long day, I can escape, there is a pause button in this game called life.
Towards the second half of the year, I was nearly through the trenches and mountains blocking my path in life, I was so close. I became over confident, the worst thing to do in any game, especially life. I kept thinking, this is starting to get easy, I was dealt pocket aces, and my next hand was horrible. I forgot that there was a jail in the game of life, I forgot that escaping gets harder every time. My homework started getting submitted later and later, my mom caught on, and I was broken, even my mom doesn't want me to thrive, my selfish mind thought, I feel so stupid for even thinking that, it was all my fault for my moms anger, she only wanted me to become a better person, but I was caught up in myself, again, I was stuck in jail and couldn't roll doubles or pay the fee to escape. The feeling of not knowing whats wrong, but not being able to fix it, is the wort feeling. Nothing even comes close. Nothing. Thats what I was feeling, I forgot the power writing carries, I completely forgot, again. It took another slap to the face to get me out of this slump, this time by the Fenn grade book and my parents. I finally escaped, than Corona happened. I could basically copy and paste everything I just wrote, and it would have fit perfectly. I ended up escaping, hopefully for the last time for a while.
I know being sad and angry is part of life, there is no escape, but now I have a get out of jail free card, writing, music, and books. Life is a game played by all, but so many of us give in to the downsides of it, we forget what pocket aces feel like, we forget theres another side, a little aspiration and time and you can escape. Its hard, harder than anything to escape, but when you find your get out of jail free card, it goes much smoother.
"It's better to walk alone than with a crowd walking in the wrong direction."
Just because there are people around doesn't mean your not walking alone. You can be alone in any situation. Any. I have been alone in a full room many times in my life. Looking at familiar faces but not recognizing them. I went through a whole week in this state of emptiness. Laughing with no emotion, smiling with no meaning, walking alone with people all around. Wearing a mask covering all emotion.
Back in the early months of school, I lost myself, I became a blank page. I would laugh and smile, but I didn't feel anything. I was empty. I went to school, did my classes, and went home, nothing changed, I felt nothing. I still feel this today. I will always feel it. I wish I was joking about this, but losing my Grandmother, made me walk alone. Feeling that way was horrible, but things like that happen in life, everyone will walk alone at some point. Nobody can hide from pain. I remember so many people coming over that week, offering their condolences, and bringing gifts. I was waiting to feel something, when I was hanging out with friends I was waiting for something to click, for me to really feel something. But it never happened. Loss truly is the worst feeling. I was able to sit staring at nothing for hours, I just wanted to feel something. But I never did, I really was empty. Than something happened. I was sitting in my room doing nothing, staring at the walls, when my dad told me to get out of my room and do something. I did the only thing that came to mind. I grabbed my skateboard and went outside in the cold fall air and skated. I lost track of time and I finally felt something. The crisp wind pounding on my face, the wore down wheels spinning on the hard cement, the feeling of freedom. To find myself, I had to walk alone.
Loss is horrible, but unavoidable, everyone will lose someone eventually, and I took it extra hard, I felt alone and empty for weeks, I lost myself. I thought surrounding myself with friends and family, but to find myself I had to walk alone, to feel I had to empty my already empty soul. I had to walk alone to lose my self convicted solitary confinement.
Satisfaction can balance out boring work
“Housework can kill you if done right.”
― Erma Bombeck
Chores; an unpleasant but necessary task. That is the definition of a chore according to the Oxford Dictionary, these are what chores are in my life, unpleasant, but necessary. After spending hours on the boat, it tends to get very dirty, and it needs to be cleaned. Cleaning a boat is not fun. At all.
After a very long day on the boat, waves crashing everywhere, food crumbs blanketing the floor, and fish guts where all over the place, a great day fishing. It was a perfect summer day, waking up early to make the trek to Boston Harbor, where our boat resides, meeting friends, arms full of chips, sodas, and sandwiches, I knew it was going to be a great day.
A couple Stripers, Flounder, and Mackerel later, we were docking our boat, our friends departed and me and my dad were left at the boat. After a long day at sea, it was a catastrophe, and it was up to us to clean it. We got out our cleaning supplies, and marched aboard. After a few seconds of cleaning, my complaining started, why do we have to do this? Its just going to get dirty again. That was my logic, not very strong. We sprayed the boat with gallons of water, washed it with a mountain of soap, and scrubbed it with the strength of a thousand men. A couple eternities later, and we were done. Finally we made our way to the car.
Although cleaning a boat for hours is a very very boring task, in the end, it is necessary. The next time we boarded the boat, it was as clean as ever, which made those hours spent cleaning it seem somewhat worth it. It was very unpleasant task, it was worth it in the end.
Chores are very important, nevertheless they are boring, and time consuming, but the satisfaction of achieving a goal balances it out.
Music is the most powerful creation known to man. It creates a whole new world for the listener to travel to for a few short minutes, whether it is a piano composition, a country song, pop, or rap, it still creates a portal to a new place. This place has been my escape many times, whether I'm sad, or just don't want to be where I am. Music has played a large role in my recent years, and I created a monstrosity of a playlist with over 200 different songs. Music hasn't always played a large role in my life like it does today, a few summers ago I remember discovering the power that it holds. This happened out at sea, like many of my stories, but shockingly this is not about fishing. We make a yearly 200 mile trek from Boston Harbor to the island of Cuttyhunk. The water was as flat as a lake on this years journey and we were cruising at around 40 miles per hour. The sun was shining, the water was clear, and I was having a great time. Than my older sister connected to the speakers, and I was shocked, music can really take you places, than I started finding music of my own, and to this day I will listen to those songs my sister played. They bring me back to the perfect day, and although they are old, and out of style, they still transport me to a better place. Music has power, all you need to do is discover how to use it.
I want a world that is safe for all, the poor can thrive, the weak can be strong, and the wars end. I pray that the killing, the shooting, the bombing, will all stop, and we can be at peace. I despise the cruelties of the global powers for creating massive nuclear missiles, large enough to destroy countries. I dream of many things, getting English homework done on time, of freeing all that are enchained by the bloodlust of war, and to let the hungry eat. I believe that if everyone, not just the global leaders and the ones in power, but the old lady on the corner, the high schooler living on his own, the homeless, the impoverished, but also the wealthy, the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class worked to creating a safer home for all on Earth, everything could be better. I will always believe in mankind, but mankind has to believe in each other.
There is nothing as good as weakening the spirit as a rainy day, the sun is gone, the animals are hiding, all noise to be heard is the constant thunk of rain on the roof. It's days like these that make, or break you. You can raise your head and figure out some way around the relentless boredom of a rainy day, or you can give in, and fade out. Personally, rainy days are the worst of days, and finding a way to create excitement is a challenge. But on this rainy day, things changed. The storm was raging all around us in the tropical island of Saint John, but we had our plans, and they were not to be broken. We hopped into the car, and arrived on the far side of the island in a hidden snorkeling spot, as we departed from the car, the clouds parted and the rain stopped. Because of our perseverance we had the beach to ourselves. We got our snorkeling gear on and walked out to sea, there was an island, nearby to the shore, than my dad and I decided to swim around. At the far side of the small island, the wrath of the clouds was unleashed, the winds picked up, the rain clogged our snorkels, and the panic was starting. We lost sight of the shore through the rain, and we rushed in random directions back to shore, I was completely lost, and spotted a nurse shark. I started rushing towards my dad who grabbed me, right before I nearly collided with a massive Barracuda, we were in a pickle, of teeth. We rushed back to shore at breakneck speed, and collapsed on the wet sand, suddenly, the rain came to a stop. Its days like these, that you can either laugh off, or live in the fear that it will happen again.
"For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others"
There is a small island at the end of the Elizabeth Islands, dwarfed by the nearby Marthas Vineyard, here, nearly 120 miles by boat, I am at home. Theres something about being on an Island with less than 50 permeant residents, and on the busiest days tops off at less than 1,000. Its a small fishing outpost in the middle of Buzzards Bay, a sanctuary for fishermen. Originally we vacated there with a few friends, for its prime fishing, the "Dump," a large spot where the US military dumped many ships, planes and tanks after WW2, a perfect spot to catch 100 pound Yellowfin Tuna, 5 foot long Mahi Mahi, sharks, and many other large fish. We have made the 100 mile trek out to that fishing haven many times. Occasionally we will end up skunked, no fish, barely a bite, so we make the 3-8 hour drive back. But there are days when its bite after bite. When the weather doesn't permit a journey to the middle of the ocean, which is fairly often, there are many magical spots less than a mile from the Island, Bluefish big enough to pull a man overboard, which did happen once, Stripers longer than me, Flounder all over the place, than we head back to the island. Most of the time we sleep on my boat which can fit 3-4 and we make room for 5. But last year our friends rented a house, so I stayed with them and left the rest of my family to suffer on the boat. The island has great fishing, but our narrative story comes on shore.
One sunny afternoon we decide to explore. We means me, and 4 friends. We first walk down to the small pier on the islands mooring field, theres ice cream, the smell of fish, and seagulls. We pool together the money our parents gave us and got a healthy helping of ice cream, but our adventure is not over. We walk, and walk, and continue walking. By now we have made it to the highest point on the island. Its incredible. It hosts a 360º view of the island and the endless sea around us. From our vantage point we see a dock, probably as far from us as possible, but we have nothing but time. We make the long trek, probably a mile, to the dock we spotted. Its perfect. The days we have been here we have looked and looked for a dock to jump off, this was it. It was about 10 feet tall, and the water was deep enough, the jumping started. After nearly an hour a few parents came to tell us to come home soon, the sun was starting to set, so we tried something. A flip train, we all have been flipping off the dock for a while, no bellyflops, yet, and we decide to test our skill, by all flipping in a line. I went first, no issues, than the next person, by now I'm swimming to the ladder and I look back to see how its going, I looked at the perfect time. My friend tripped on the lip we used to get extra high and was racing down towards the water, belly first. It was the bellyflop heard around the world. He called it a day, and I don't blame him. We headed back, the day was still young so we went on to our next adventure. We took some small fishing rods, and grabbed our skateboards and went down to the spot with ice cream, the smell of fish and seagulls. We walked around the docks, got some more ice cream and spotted a small fin. A 2-3 foot long sand shark, we decided to test our luck with catching it, until we realized that none of us want to unhook a shark. So we did the smart thing, run back to the house and get an adult to unhook it if we catch it. We didn't catch it, but spotting that shark, laughing as we got our lure stuck in mountains of seaweed, and another healthy helping of ice cream was the perfect end to another great day.
Its days like this, no phones, no parents yelling to not do something, freedom at its finest. I would do anything to have more days like that, but the sad truth is that it is impossible. Between school, a global epidemic, and poor weather, its hard to find time to make the long journey out to that tiny island on the tip of the Elizabeth Island chain. But the memory is sometimes enough to satisfy me. Days of complete freedom, endless laughs, and ice cream, there is nothing better.
“ Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
True patience only shows when it is tested; by the umpteenth hour in the car ride, my patience was shot. Although a road trip to Tennessee and back seems like a challenge, when surrounded by my cousins and family, it must be okay? Right? At least that’s what I thought until we hit the 13 hour mark on the ride from Tennessee to D.C.
Although the ride from Hershey Pennsylvania to Churchill Down in Kentucky was over ten hours, and Nashville Tennessee was only a few hours further, the ride from Tennessee to D.C. was worse than any trip I have ever taken, and I have had some real bad ones, 8 hours to the middle of nowhere in New York, 10 hours to the Niagara Falls, 10 hours through swamp lands from Huston to New Orleans, 5 hours on a boat in 5+ foot waves, all where dwarfed by this infinite drag through forest after forest.
At the three-hour mark in our ride we stopped to hike a mountain. Yes, a mountain. Why, you may ask, I have no idea. It ended up being an incredible waste of time. It was a hill compared to the mountains in New Hampshire, which are also small, but comparing the two is like comparing a rocket and a tricycle. Very few similarities. The hike to the peak took a good hour and a half on what could have been a walking path, not a rock in sight, and hardly curved. But the view at the top was, horrible, all that could be seen was the trunks of the trees that were ten feet away from you. Then my cousin who has a phobia of everything had to go to the bathroom, so me, my older sister, and my other cousin sprinted to the bottom. In twenty minutes. Finally, gasping for breath at the bottom, we made it to the bathroom. An outdated porta-potty. At this point I was thinking, could this day get any worse? Yes, yes it could.
A few hours and many bathroom breaks later complaints filled the air. My patience was on the verge of collapsing. With no service on my phone to escape the cramped backseat of the hot and loud car, I was slowly losing it. At long last we stopped, and I escaped that microscopic seat I have called home for the last eternity. But we still were not there, not even close actually. Our car G.P.S. had us arriving in D.C. at five, in the morning. As someone who suffers from an inability to sleep in a car, I knew that I should not have agreed to this senseless torture. Dinner was over and we were back on the roads. It was one in the morning and the car was asleep, all besides my mom, my aunt and myself. We came up to an unchanging light, and being the only ones insane enough to be up at this hour decided to skip it. Of course there was a police officer. After a long argument by my half delusional mother and my completely gone aunt, we got away with a warning. Lucky us. Back on the road once again. It's now 4. I still was awake despite my best efforts to fall asleep. Now we entered the suburbs. For some ungodly reason there was no traffic entering D.C. maybe it had something to do with that anyone with half a brain cell was asleep. The trip from the suburbs to our hotel was uninteresting, luckily, but once again all hell broke loose once we entered the hotel. The front desk employee was way too energetic, but he was okay. Maybe sleep was an option. Once we traversed, by stair because the elevator had shut down, to the fifth floor, we found out our key cards did not work. After sitting in the hallway for a good half an hour, the staff came to our rescue. By now it was five thirty and my eyes were glued shut, but at long last we made it. Never has anything seemed more appealing to me than that twin bed I had to share. The last thing I heard before I fell asleep was,
“Everyone up at 7:30!”
These road trips are an annual tradition, and luckily this was the worst ride of all, worse than our trek to Montreal, worse than our pilgrimage to all of the Great Lakes, and even longer than our voyage through the arid land of Texas. I can’t wait for our Grand Canyon excursion this year!
Like Father Like Son
Father and son bonds are the strongest connection possible. Although the road my relationship with my dad has taken is filed with mountains and valleys, at the end of the day all I remember is the view at the top. My dad and I share many fights and disagreements, but moments like camping in the backwoods of New Hampshire and waking up at 4 A.M. to fish outweigh them infinitely.
I remember many experiences with my dad, but a few reside far above those endless mountains in our road of life. Although the climb is long and taxing the view at the top makes it worth the trip. Of these experiences, one sticks with me the most. It comes near the end of a vacation of legend in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. We had only a few days left when we caught wind of a fishing trip. Both my dad and I are I love with fishing. A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office. Just being out at sea, even in the cold, rough waters of New England puts our tight nerves to rest. When we found out about this trip, we knew not going was not an option. Despite complaints from my sisters and mother (who backed out at the last minute) we went. We walked out onto the pier and saw a group of six others boarding a massive fishing boat with enough roads to satisfy the most skillful fisher. Way down in the Caribbean resides a massive fish, the Marlin. Sadly Marlin season was over, but maybe these two tourists could get lucky. Probably not.
The boat made the long haul out to sea despite the roaring wind and the freezing rain, and soon we were two and a half miles out in the Caribbean Sea. Suddenly the wind died down and the sun broke free from the shackles of the clouds. The view was one to top any movie scene, the massive jungle mountains with a thick blanket of fog rolling over the sun lit peak. The blue, blue like the one you see in your best dreams, water was bright with the light of that ever hot southern sun. But now it’s time for fishing. As the youngest on board I was given first catch privileges, I was allowed to real in the first fish. A few minutes after wetting the lines, we heard a steady click coming from a rod. Fish on. I battled with it for a few minutes, sadly it was no Marlin, but a three foot barracuda. Finally it was gaffed and in the cooler. Many don’t know that barracuda is an edible fish, it’s not, to us at least. But the locals have grown an immunity to the small amount of poison in them. To us, food poisoning is the minimum. So the captain took my catch. My dads turn came up, and no fish. A few Bonita and a few barracuda later and it was time to head back. Sadly no Marlin on the day, but it was a day to last forever in my memory.
Although fight my my dad are a common, we forget our turbulence quickly, and out bond only grows stronger. Many can relate to me on this, but dads can be a pain at times, but experiences like fishing in the Caribbean and hiking the white mountains make up for this.
At the end of the day, who really cares that I wasn’t allowed ice cream for dessert or he took my phone.
Empathy Over Marginalization
“I never make mistakes. Only you do.”
The smallest act of empathy is greater than the largest act of marginalization; It is not fun to be left out of even the smallest thing, recess football in elementary school, it was not me, but when I saw this, I left my spot and let them play. We had a very competitive recess football program, where everyone was drafted that wanted to play. I was often picked first or second, I guess back then I was athletic. I watched as everyone was picked, besides one. It was a sunny spring day in the year of 5th grade, and it was to be a football game of legend. We started the draft, I was picked, than I watched and waited until the game could start. I saw someone being pushed away, “your so bad at football, we don’t want you to play!” They yelled at him. Finally they dispersed and I caught a glimpse of him. It was my friend, Arnav. They wouldn’t let him play despite his best effort, because he wasn’t good enough. This was greatly unfair, we always had everyone playing no matter how bad or good they are. This made me feel horrible so I decided to take action. I said, I wasn’t feeling well and Arnav could take my spot. This theme, of showing empathy over mistreatment and marginalization, is something that if everyone took it to heart and lived by, our world would be a far better place. Although my act of kindness was very small, and a 5th grade kind of thing, it still hits harder than any discriminatory actions. If everyone could take a minute out of their day and think, how could I make someone’s day better today. Our lives would be forever better.