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0-13 Years

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A Clear Blue Sky

In 2011, my family and I went on vacation in Turks and Caicos, a cozy little collection of islands. On the plane, we were able to capture little snapshots of the sky. Three years ago, those snapshots were just depictions of gorgeous, fluffy, bright-white clouds. Now, they represent freedom, joy, lightheartedness, and beauty.
Once we got to Turks and Caicos, we settled into our hotel, went down to the sparkling beach for the sunset, went out to a delicious dinner, and the next day hit the beach. We started out taking pictures in the beige sand, by the lush green palm trees, and in the turquoise-blue water. As the excitement vacation brings along died down, we ensconced ourselves into our pink beach chairs to nap in the bright, hot, Caribbean sun. As I lay in my beach chair, I gazed up at the lovely, clear blue sky and wondered where all the fluffy little white clouds we saw as we made our journey from home had gone. I finally sank into a light sleep, and dreamt about all the things we would do during our vacation.
Later that day, we loaded onto a boat to venture into the clear, light blue water. The water we accelerated through was as light, soft, and beautifully blue as the sky. We journeyed through it as fast as a cheetah, but as delicate as a swan. We glided to a darker, deeper portion of water where we could swim with tons of different fish and see all different shades of green seaweed, pink and white coral, and soft, white shells. I don’t like fish, so I was too scared to get in, but my parents did and they told my sister and me about all the different colors and lives that were held under the clear water. “Get in! It’s beautiful! The fish are more afraid of you than you are of them!” said my mom.
The captain of our boat directed us to a vast span of open, shallow water where we could snorkel for sand dollars. Still afraid of fish, I hesitated, but eventually, I realized that there wasn’t a single fish in sight. The captain said, “We are in an area where you can find lots of sand dollars. If you go down to the bottom and collect them you can take them home with you.” I was excited that we were going to be able to bring home a natural souvenir, but still afraid. I started to climb down the ladder and then I thought I saw a fin swimming steadily toward us. I thought I saw a shark and I held onto the rail of the ladder and tried to climb back on. All of a sudden I realized that it was the captain of the boat holding a starfish above the water as he swam looking for sand dollars. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and jumped back in. I found dozens of sand dollars, but kept about four. My sister found even more than I, because she wasn’t afraid of fish so she got in like a normal person in the beginning and started her collection before I did. All together we took eight or nine home. This was an experience that not only was fun, but I learned to conquer my fear of fish. Sorta.
Later in the trip, defeating one fear helped me to defeat another: parasailing. My dad, sister, and I were strolling down the soft white beach, looking up at the fluffy clouds and bright sky. We saw a group of people parasailing and my sister and I asked my dad if he’d ever done it. “Yeah, I did it with Jimmy when he was about your age.” Jimmy is my older brother, who is in his 30s now, so clearly, my dad hadn’t gone parasailing in a while. “Can we go?” we eagerly asked. He said yes, if we found the place to sign up. Our eyes scanned the beach for a dock and a nearby shop to sign up. We finally found it and the lady inside said they had an opening in an hour. We reserved the spot and then went back to our hotel for lunch. After lunch, we went back, armed with towel, camera and water bottles and waited on the dock for the boat. Another family loaded the boat with us: two girls and their mom. We discovered that unless we were going up individually, we had to have an adult. My dad was planning on only being the photographer, but since I wasn’t old enough to go up with only my sister, we all went together. We asked the nice lady on the boat to get a picture of us. “Sure! No problem!” “Thanks!”
Up, up, up, into the mighty blue sky, we went. We floated upwards for a good five minutes and then started to hover above the boat. We thought it would be scary, but it was an uplifting moment. The entire island lay before us and still, we were able to see the detail of the people gazing up at us. I felt like I was part of the plane I took over to Turks and Caicos: gallant, yet delicate, and vulnerable to falling. I imagined slicing through the clouds and feeling their icy rush. I imagined I was flying and I felt free, I felt comfortable in the clear sky, I felt “fluffy” just like the clouds I was floating amongst.
The most important souvenir I carried away from that vacation was being able to conquer a fear and feeling that sense of freedom and joy. I think about my experience now and realize that I always feel like that when I’m with family. I feel joy and comfort in their presence. No matter what times are like, family will always be a clear blue sky for me.
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