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Sugar is Bad for You, Spice Can be Gross, and I'm Not Everything Nice

The wind on my face is cool and clear, and I shut my eyes against the burning sun. There are trees that smell of pine and dirt and honesty, and break up the sun into streaks of light. I lean farther out the car window and take a deep breath of the rushing wind. The world is clean and new and doesn’t have any mistakes in it yet. At least, I’d like to think so. Mom snaps a picture of me, but I don’t mind. Today is beautiful. I am too.

I can feel wind chimes inside of me, like I am sparkling and lighter. Like I’m made out of light. Like all the happiness I feel inside of me comes from the warmth of the sun and the dipping trees and the sound of racing water and my sister who is sketching a drawing of her foot in a notebook. Even the humming car, jostled by the occasional branch. I try to memorize this feeling, try to cement it in my mind. But I can’t. It runs through me like water and though it cleanses, I cannot catch it.

We reach Sylvan Lake and it feels good to stretch as I stumble out of the car, having sat too long. Rachel and I change into our swimming suits and head down to the dirt beach. There are dead pine needles everywhere and I forgot my shoes. I observe the sting and pinch they have when they touch my feet in a lazy way, not really caring. I put on shorts and we climb the rocks for a while. I try to get as high as I can and burn with the fierce desire to fly, to be free and powerful. I get scratched a few times but don’t really notice in my quest to touch the sky.

We want to swim in the freezing ice water, but Mom says if we go, the boys will want to go too, and they can’t swim very well in the first place. We splash around for a bit but quickly become bored with the ankle deep water. In the distance, there is a small island made of rock and we beg mom to let us swim to it. We can’t convince her, but Uncle Elia can. Mom says only if Daddy and Uncle Elia come with us. I’m a really good swimmer and tell her so, but she still looks nervous. She makes us promise to not jump off the rocks into the potentially treacherous water below.

Rachel and I wade into the water up to my hips and Rachel’s stomach. On the count of three, we go under. The water is desperately cold and my heart slams around in my chest, probably from the exertion of keeping my body warm. Ish. We swim to the island and I have to pull Rachel a little ways because she gets so tired. I’m tired too, but determined to reach it on my own. The rocks scratch me as I push Rachel up. Nicholas offers me a hand, but I shake my head no, finding my own watery footholds and jagged handholds.

Its not really an island, but a cluster of almost vertical rocks. I climb them, fixed on reaching the top, completely out of breath and sopping wet. When I reach the top, I close my eyes and imagine that this is what flying feels like. Powerful, strong and resolute. Exhausted, but ridiculously thrilled. I spot another island a bit away and plead with Dad to let me go. He agrees more easily than mom. I swim out and Nicholas catches up with me, but I swim faster. The water is still cold, but I feel raw strength and happiness coursing through me. Poor Rachel’s worn out and swims to shore.

I spend more time on the rocks. I wait and absorb the feeling and let it energize my spirit. It feels like me, on these rocks, like the water washed away the pointless layers, and the rocks scratched off the more tough ones. It’s a little strange, to not be afraid of who I am. I look at myself, my center, and discover I like what I see. Sugar and spice and everything nice could never measure up to the beauty and strength and power I’m made of. Not ever.



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