At the end of eighth grade, our class visited Spruce Knob in West Virginia for a final bonding experience before the busy years of high school swept us off our feet. I didn’t think much about the trip, shrugging it off as merely a reward for passing middle school. It was only during the trip that I realized these fond memories with my classmates would be my last before the busy years of high school swept us off our feet. I became obsessed with trying to create lasting memories, yet the enthralling adventures and weary nights delayed any progress at all. I finally came face to face with my answer on the last night, when I was sprawled out on the fields of Spruce Knob, watching the magnificent night sky.
When our campfire’s flames began to sputter, and the smoke made its last dying breath, sleep came to everyone except me. Fatigue had once seized my body, but cherished memories of middle school prevented any sleep at all. The stagnant, sweaty smell from a long day of hiking did not help to bring sleep either. Looking back, I missed the banter of my classmates, and the once exuberant atmosphere that we created around the campfire. I couldn’t imagine a better group of friends to spend my last days as an eighth grader with. To this day, whenever life becomes overwhelming, I close my eyes and envision the warm smiles and contagious laughter I shared among friends that night. The joy earlier experienced around the campfire gradually melted into a tranquil stillness, angelic yet forlorn. Only the whisper of a light wind gently rustling the crisp leaves, and the soft snoring of weary classmates disrupted this serenity.
After tossing and turning for what seemed like an eternity, I decided to give up on sleep and observed my surroundings. The glowing embers of our smoldering fire and the ephemeral signals of fireflies emerged as the only identifiable sights to my restless eyes. Everything else remained shrouded in a puzzling murkiness, mere silhouettes contrasting against the vast starry sky. Being from the city, this sheer number of stars was unlike anything I could have ever imagined. The stars illuminated the night sky, seeming to cast a shimmering presence upon me. While fixated on the spectacle above, I realized the people around me made this experience meaningful. We all are shining stars, unique in our own way. Though some may shine brighter than others, we all can bring meaning and happiness to those around us by being ourselves. I silently thanked my classmates who have all contributed to this wonderful experience for me, and I drifted to sleep, excited to meet plenty more people in the future.