Alive This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     One day, I was reading a magazine when a headline caught my eye. “Writing Contest - A Winner Every Month,” it screamed. The topic: what matters. Some entries had already been published and their essays were there: a story about a dying friend named Hope, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s. In disgust, I threw the magazine down. I hated contests like that because I lacked the one thing the entrants had: life experience. But there was one thing I had to know: what matters.

Closing my eyes, I racked my brain for an answer. Friends ... family ... love. No, all those were too obvious. I took a deep breath and thought some more.

In the silence I noticed a sound from my neighbor’s apartment - a saxophone’s searing notes were seeping into my room. I listened, soaking in the sunshine from my bedroom window, my foot tapping against the bed frame. Then I knew what mattered. I sat up and hastily started a list that is now over two years old. I add to it whenever the mood strikes, and every time I review it, I smile.

So back to the list, back to what matters: The sunrise flooding the horizon; the bright moon in the night sky. The harmonic voices in the choir, sliding into that perfect pitch; when my dad holds me close. The sigh you hear when a baby sleeps; when the shower water gets warm, and the feeling of a tear on my cheek. The jar full of pens on my desk that no longer work. The feeling of floating in the ocean; the jazz music leaking into my room. The night I almost saw the moon from my bedroom window; the hand-written letter from years ago.

The old diaries on my shelves, some filled and some not. My breath fogging the crisp winter air; all the miles I’ve walked alone in the early morning hours. Late-night phone conversations and mugs of hot chocolate. “I love you,” whispered from a hundred miles away on a Saturday night; meandering mountain roads and forgotten sunsets. The canvases in the back room among the boxes of paint and brushes not used in years. Crayoned walls, the colors still visible through new paint. The warmth of the cat fast asleep on my feet; old photographs. All the letters I’ve written but never sent. The stained glass wind catcher hanging in the kitchen for as long as I can remember; the plastic rose so red against the gray walls. The sound of early-morning sprinklers; when I write one whole page, just to write another.

Dancing in the rain; the squeaky floorboard. The flickering street lamp at the end of my street; not knowing where I am when I wake up. Fireflies caught in a jar; the first luminous star in the twilight. Old scratched records; blown-out speakers; watching the same movie for the third time. My brother, drifting into a deep slumber against my shoulder; hushed secrets with my sister. A damp cloth across my forehead; the cool touch of my mom’s hand. Sitting on the roof before anyone realizes I’m gone; the cold brick on the unseen side of the house. Passing sorrow through hallway glances.

I’ve never had to fight cancer or watch someone I love die. I am not one of those people who suffers and learns and is always beautiful on the inside, but I still care about stuff in my life. Although they may seem insignificant to you, these things really do matter. They make me feel alive, and that’s what really matters: that I’m alive, right now, right here.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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LittleRedDeliriousPrinceThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm
I love it. Did you win the award?
Sketched97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:20 am
Such a chilling piece. Well done.
AmandaPanda123 said...
Feb. 1, 2011 at 9:47 am
I am the same way :) What matters to me are the little things. They may be small to others, but not to me.
JustBeingME said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm
Wow this is awesome! I feel the same way! Beautiful and easy to relate to. Love it :)
JennieSmile11 said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm

pretty sure we could be best friends! haha, i feel the exact same way-the little things fascinate me and they are beautiufl, always.

this was seriously wonderful :) Keep writing & keep enjoying the sunrises, always

Willow Girl said...
Aug. 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm
First of all i want to sent this comment to V for Vendetta. I know what you mean about how we all know to appreciate the little things but i want to tell you this; this article is one of the most truthful and human articles i've ever read. Because not everybody gets to write a bestselling novel. Not everyone gets to make a great change in this world. not everyone has to go through great pain and suffering, we don't all get the chance to fight for what we bwlieve in. but what rally matters ... (more »)
kelly A. said...
Aug. 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm
you are a beautiful writer! you really know how to right and put the person in the setting you are amazing! keep it up! i can see you going far!:P
pinksage33 said...
May 28, 2009 at 12:04 am
Very nice. Good job living in the moment!!!
maria=) said...
May 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm
this was inspiring!
possible aspiring writer-to-be said...
Feb. 9, 2009 at 12:10 am
this was really good! i like it a lot. i've always had so much trouble trying to express what i really feel, like that. nice job =)
daniella :) said...
Feb. 9, 2009 at 9:19 pm
this was such a great piece.
i loved it very much and read it several times.
you have inspired me :)
Molotx89 said...
Jan. 27, 2009 at 3:42 pm
I loved it.
wingedgirl4eva said...
Dec. 30, 2008 at 10:19 pm
OMG I loved this article! Laura, you really do write beautifully, and it has inspired me to both appreciate little things and start my own list of things to appreciate. Great job.
P.S. V for Vendetta? I'm sorry, but you're totally wrong! If this article wasn't good enough, TeenInk wouldn't have picked it. This article is awesome, Laura. don't listen to anyone who says it isn't.
uniquechic said...
Nov. 17, 2008 at 12:53 am
i loved this. you write beautifully. you've also inspired me to start my own list. of things that truly matter, like you have done. thank you for the inspiration.
sarahmagoo said...
Nov. 17, 2008 at 12:03 am
ive never been a good writer. although i always wanted to be able to tickle people years with what i wrote. you did it. some of what you wrote reminded me of times that ive thought those same little things but was never to explain it to other people. again.. you did it =]
V For Vendetta said...
Nov. 16, 2008 at 12:17 am
Hm. I looked at this and thought it was going to be something worth reading; I almost thought you were going to go somewhere new with the whole idea. But honestly? Basically all you manage to say is 'appreciate the little things'. Anyone who hasn't gotten /that/ message must be blind, deaf, and have no nerve endings left. It's well written, if not informal, but... If you're going to try and come off as being original and creative... try and be original and creative.
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm
If your going to criticize someones work, can you at least have the courtesy to make it constructive?
Hawthorn replied...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 9:48 am
in that case I must be blind/deaf/or have no nerve endings because all I hear in MY life is appreciate the big things, Life, The Universe, and Everything. Stuff like that.
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