Islands in the Stream

My friend and I woke early one morning, while it was still dark, to climb a mountain. A little early morning exercise to avoid the heat of the daytime and also because she was busy for the rest of the day and I’d wanted to see her before she left. She was a student, of course, home for break. But for all the time we’d had to meet up, this morning, before the sun rose, was the only time we could agree upon. And I said to her, I’m glad we’re doing this, as we looked up at the mountain peak silhouetted against the night. She agreed and then zipped up her jacket because it had started to drizzle, and took a step forward.

We climbed through thickets and under drooping branches, and slipped a couple of times here and there. Each time I slipped she would ask me if I was all right, and I would say I was, and then she would make some joke about how bad I was at hiking, to which I would reply that I hadn’t gone hiking in over six months. I commented that we should have checked the weather report. The rain had come and gone and was coming again. We moved as quickly as we could until we found a ledge, under which we waited for the rain to pass.

We sipped our water and watched as the rain fell in front of us. I asked her how school was. She said it was fine, How is yours? Fine, I said. She asked me about some of the things I’d learned. I told her what books I’d read, which authors had made an impression on me. I asked her if she was ready to be a sophomore. No. Time flies.

The rain stopped, so we put away our bottles and crept out from under the ledge. I almost slipped again, but planted my hand on the ground and caught myself. I removed it, shaking off the gunk. Softened by the rain, the mud held the imprint of my hand. My friend pressed her own hand to the ground, laughing, and we stood and admired the marks we had made.

Come on, she said. We’re almost there.

We hoisted ourselves over the top of a fairly large rock, which was mossy and wet with the dew of early morning, and, straightening, saw a light spread across the ocean. My friend turned and high-fived me with her mud-covered hand. The wind brushed her hair, which floated like a piece of driftwood on the surface of the sea. She smiled and said, I’m going to hate to leave this place.

An Almost Storm

Walking down the beach, despite the clouds overhead, I watched as my shadow and two others shifted on the sand.

So how does it feel to be back?

It’s really nice. Can’t beat the feeling.

Vacations are much-needed breaks to the school year—although I wasn’t expecting this type of weather in Hawaii.

The weather’s a bit odd.

I nodded. It’s supposed to storm. We chose the right day to go out.

We continued down the beach. We had a mile to go before we reached our destination, a mall with all the restaurants a food-enthusiastic duo could want.

Let’s just try to get there before it comes.

As we walked, I watched the weather. The wind at our sides was picking up and our shadows on the ground were disappearing. A much greater shadow was casting itself on the sand. At one point, I looked up. The sun had vanished. Swirling out of the top of the sky was a massive gray cloud, which descended in increasing thickness on the beach and on the sea. I turned. In the distance, from a point we had come not an hour ago, the cloud had crawled up the sand and was fingering between hotels.

Look at the cloud.

We hurried down the beach. Around us, we watched as swimming children were called out of the water by their parents. Hosts ushered their outside-dining customers inside. The wind detached a twenty-pound umbrella from its table, sending both into the glass side of the restaurant. At this, we ran, keeping our heads low and shielding our eyes from the sand that the wind had stirred. The sea shuddered. I watched in disbelief as a windsurfer toppled in the wind. We ran into a hotel, where lines of people had gathered by the windows to watch the storm.

It never came.

It rained a lot and the wind tested some of the especially dated buildings, but all things considered, nothing was irreparably damaged. There was a moment, however, as we made our way through the crowd, when the uncertainty was real—for a storm on the beachfront is always serious. But the moment passed when the clouds evaporated and the wind died.

That night at dinner, under a wan light, I remarked what a day it had been.

Are you still happy to be back?

I said yes without a doubt.

Later that night under a streetlamp, waiting to be picked up, I watched our shadows on the ground. In a second of silence, I saw my shadow shiver. Then I realized that it was only myself, responding to a cool breeze, or a feeling of relief to have escaped the storm or to finally be home.

NEW you, new me, new everything

A lot happens at the beginning of the calendar year- organizing taxes, planning our summer holidays, starting our second and usually last semester of that year, and the beginning of the rest of our lives. I’ve been having a lot of these philosophical, big picture , “how is what I’m doing now affecting my future” thoughts and freakouts as this break ends. Am I supposed to know where my life is heading at this point, mid-sophomore year? What if  I don’t know how to make the the big picture happen in little steps?

But then I also had to think, what if my future is right there waiting for me to grasp it and make it happen this semester? If I happen to become lifelong best friends, or make the mistakes I need to that will be my wake-up call? There’s so much unknown out there all I know is there’s no good to dwell in the past, to dredge up the good memories or bad times. There’s only time for this NEW year, this new semester, new activities, new life and new me.