Love is Like a Waterfall This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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There are 479 steps to the top of Montemorency Falls. I counted every single one. In my head, I slowly ticked off a digit each time my sneaker scuffed against the wooden planks. Every number was a step closer to the top, but a step further away from pure bliss under the mists of the waterfall. As I climbed I couldn’t look back because it would make me want to turn around and let the cool sprays soak my face once more. I couldn’t look up at the numerous steps to come because that would make the pain in my thighs more noticeable, and the trek that much harder to endure. Instead I watched my worn sneakers, darkened from water, strike each smoothed step. I didn’t realize it then, but that waterfall was a glimpse at what being in love is like, from beginning to end.

There is a small bridge above the waterfall- small being relative, due to the enormous size of the crashing water that runs beneath my feet. I am leaning against the railing, watching the water foam at the bottom, and admiring its beauty. Like love, this waterfall looks perfect from the outside. From my stance above the water, I can hear the gentle rumbling that pursues the white waves that tumble over the edge. However- also like love- things change at a different perspective. I look out from the bridge at the coil of steps on the adjacent hill that wind their way to the base of the falls. I lift my camera to capture this beauty.

“Oh man! Are we really going to go down all those stairs? It’s too bad there isn’t an elevator or something. That would be awesome,” Jacob cries as he plucks the camera from my hand and takes a picture. We make our way over the bridge and through the beaten paths to the descending steps. While I make my way down, I glance with dread at the steps that rise up the mound beside me. This too, is like love. As you let yourself go, fall into the depths, you cannot help but think about what happens later, the difficult journey to come.

As I reach the bottom, I am surrounded by a fury of water slapping and crashing. Mist covers my body, leaving little droplets along the hairs of my arms. The wind whips my shirt and hair and I tilt back my head as I feel the spray blast my face. There is a rainbow arching to my left, completing the beauty of this waterfall. Like love, this waterfall is not completely perfect from the inside. I am soaked, my makeup is smudging, and the wind has tangled my hair. But above the roaring water, I can hear the laughter of my friends, and through dew-covered lashes I can see their smiles. Their wet clothes stick to their bodies, and flip-flops are draped in their hands so their feet can patter through the puddles. We have no cares about how we look or the steep climb that is to come. This is what being in love feels like; when you no longer care how you look or what tomorrow will bring because you are completely content. It is easy to tilt your head back, smile, and wade in the waves of love.

But the longer I twirl in the sprays of the fall, thoughts of the climb that I will soon endure tip-toe forward. This is what it is like to be in love; no matter how happy you may be, there is always that fear of what is to come when everything changes. There is always that question in the back of your mind; is this too good to be true?

And then when it is too good to be true, you stare at the 479 steps before you with dread as I do. How long will it take? What if I give up? Will it hurt? But the longer I contemplate, the longer it will take to reach the top. The longer I stand in the cool mists, the harder it will be to leave. So I begin my climb. One. Two. Three. I can feel the ache in my legs with each forward step, and my mind keeps pressing the question to the front of my perspiring skull: Was it worth it? Is this pain worth the happiness?

It is easier not to stop and look back. It is easier to push my legs forward, one by one, knowing that I am almost there. The pain will soon subside. But even as I trudge forward, I think about what I have left behind, the beauty and the happiness. The laughter and the smiles. And though it would be easy to stop, to give up, I steadily scuff my sneakers over each step. Two hundred thirty five. Two hundred thirty six. This is what it is like when love tears you apart. You must fight the urge to turn around, to give up. You must climb that hill, take one step at a time because- although it hurts- you will make it.

My foot rises over the 479th step. I take a deep breath and lean against the railing of the wooden structure that looks out over the waterfall. Thighs throbbing, forehead soaked with sweat, I watch the white foam tumble. I see the rainbow arc over the spray, and I can almost feel the droplets coat my arms. And then I decide that it was worth it, that I would do it all over again if only to experience that wave of happiness once more. The memories of pure content, as well as my struggles will stay with me forever. And this too is just like love.





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