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Easy to Love

By , Oakland, NJ

Sometimes a favorite memory doesn’t have to be from something huge that happened in your life. It can be the small moments that stick with you forever. What I have learned is that every special memory, whether big or small, connects back to a certain place. Each place I have been to seemed to have touched my heart in a special way. However, each moment wasn’t made special because of where I was, but the people I was surrounded by and what we did there. Every single detail has made me realize how easy it is to love this life I have been given. Starting here…

…When I was young I had the amazing privilege of having extremely talented dancers to look up to in my life. I looked up to each and every one of them, as they all helped make me become the dancer I am today. When I reminisce back to my beginning days at Ridgewood Performing Arts Center, I remember one specific snowy day in December. For what seemed to be hours, at least 100 dancers were mushed into a tiny studio to sit around and watch a full rehearsal of our annual Christmas show. Many were doing homework while others were intently watching the acts that were dancing. I, however, wasn’t paying attention to anything inside that room. The snowstorm outside the window had seemed to have my full attention. I turned to my friends nervously and expressed my feelings of anxiousness about being trapped in the studio. They giggled and reassured me when they said, “We could have a sleepover here! Whatever happens, it will happen to us all. Together in tutus!” Looking back now, it doesn’t seem like much reassurance, but at the time, I felt so content. I was practically wishing we would be trapped. Even though it snowed like crazy that day, I made it out alive, and months later made my way to the stage…

…Two years later I found myself standing on the same stage I dance on every December. Over the years, I had rehearsed different dances from the same show. Now, I was older and a year ahead of the people in my age group.  It was about an hour before the first show was about to start. We were being slammed with another harsh snowstorm and the power was shutting down about every 15 minutes. I was extremely overwhelmed, as was everyone else. Somehow standing alone, center stage in the empty auditorium, I calmed myself. No matter how it turned out, I would be happy. I was again overwhelmed, but this time with complete and utter happiness knowing that the auditorium would be filled to see me show off what I do best…

…That same year, I found myself taking up a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. I would be dancing for the directors of Broadway Dance Center in New York City! I was ecstatic, finally being able to show off my talents to people beyond my family. However, the dancing wasn’t even  the most memorable moment of that day. Between rehearsal and the show, my friends and I took on the streets of Broadway. Of course, I was still extremely young, so I was assigned as a “big sister”. A few of my friends are a year younger, so they put me in charge of them when walking through the city. I felt like a grown-up even though I wasn’t even tall enough to see over the person in front of me. The sense that someone needed me and I could take care of them made me feel special. We found our way to a grocery store and got everything we needed to prepare for the show. I felt like I had a sense of authority, and I liked it. Even though now I wish for fewer responsibilities, that grocery store is the one place that helped me to see responsibilities can be fun…

...A month later I was invited to perform at Disney in Orlando at one of their Downtown shows! Not only was this offer exciting, but it would also be my first time flying on a plane as well as my first time in Disney. I couldn’t believe how many amazing opportunities were coming to me that summer. The trip ended up being even better than I could have imagined, however my favorite part was small. Although I loved going on Rockin’ Roller coaster, the roller coasters that goes from 0 to 60 miles in .2 seconds, and riding the terrifying drops of the Tower of Terror, I have to say my favorite part was singing along to the Frozen fireworks in the Magic Kingdom. My friends and I are in no way talented singers, but that didn’t stop us from belting the lyrics to “Let it Go” as loudly as we could. In that moment, I really felt like I was in the happiest place on earth….

…Before I was even born, my family had bought a beach house in Ortley Beach, right next to Seaside. It had perfect location; close to town, steps from the beach, and right by the boardwalk. However, when Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of our shores back in 2012, my once perfect safe haven fell victim to its ungodly power of destruction. While I was devastated, my family and I still visit there every summer. About two years ago, I went back with my cousin, Alex. She and I were always the kids who wanted to go on the most terrifying and fastest rides. That summer, we decided we would do something that had been on our bucket list for the longest time: ride the Sky Coaster. The Sky Coaster can basically be described as a human slingshot. Typically, two people are wearing harnesses that can also be life jackets when the string is pulled.  The harnesses and people in them are then strapped together, side by side. Finally, the two are hooked up to a giant wire that holds them horizontally over the ground. Once strapped in, the wire drags you on a diagonal to 100 feet above the ground, where you are literally facing what seems to be your eternal death. Then, once at the top, “3…2…1…fly!” and the two are on their way to a terrifyingly joyful drop to soar over the ocean. Why would one want to put themselves through that kind of torture? That I cannot answer, it’s a “you had to be there” type of thing.  However, I can explain the feeling I felt. When you put it all on the line, you get this whole sense of control over you life. I felt like I was the only one who could decide my fate. The feeling of literally flying and freedom made me feel as though I was in one of those cliché stories and everything in my life was simple. Not perfect, but simple. I quite literally got the idea of how small my problems were from a different perspective. Obviously, I was thinking these thoughts in between my screams.

Throughout the years, I have come to realize that every single adventure I take in life, whether big or small, affects my growth as a person. I believe that these young years count so much towards our adult lives and every single life lesson counts. I am forever grateful for the people and place that have touched my life in many ways, and I cannot wait to explore more




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