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Breathe in. Breathe out. Look up. Toss arm. SMACK! The ball sails across the net and lands neatly in the service box. As I jump into the box and pull my body into the ready position, my opponent moves toward the ball. The world slows, and the girl on the other side of the net swings her racquet wildly at the ball. She misses, and the ball continues to bounce. My first ace.

I pounce on the loophole. He probably didn’t even see this angle. But it’s a gaping hole, and detrimental to his case. We’re supposed to be in a seminar, but I am so enraged by his statement I can hardly see straight. I smile triumphantly as Michael flounders. He glances at me, and laughs. We are both so passionate in class, so at odds in our beliefs it is comical. It is a battle of wits, based on passion, not facts, and the most fun I’ve had in days.

The girl next to me has her eyes closed and is quite literally rolling on the floor. Our laughter bounces off the high ceiling, which only amplifies it. I haven’t seen Julie in months, and the laughter was a pleasant reminder of what I’ve missed. We don’t even need to catch up, the jokes pass at lightning speed. I laugh until my abs ache.

The wind whips my hair into what probably resembles a birds’ nest. The town below, with its buildings that had towered above me just moments ago, is smaller than my fingernail. Cows moo nearby and horses clamber among the rocks. I’ve never been to the Pyrenees before, but I’m comfortable. The vivid blue of the sky and the snowcapped top of the mountains is so different from the mossy green grass. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such vibrant colors. I’m being called back to the car to begin the descent, but my feet are planted. I’m on top of the world, and I never want to come down.

My mom is talking, but I can hardly hear her voice over the din of the restaurant. She’s wishing me happy seventeenth birthday, and is telling me she’s glad she had me. She thinks she’s such a comedian. Miguel beams at me, and clinks my glass. My dad hands me another cracker. I’m a year older, but I’m glad nothing has changed.

Life is made up of moments. My favorites are the ones that you can feel in the pit of your stomach—when you’re so satisfied, the world seems to shine. These moments determine who you are, and who you want to be.



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