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As I’m walking through Brush Lake with my blanket, notebook, and coffee, I feel at home. I see the same trails I ran across as a child. I’m following the same signs with the “ You are Here “ X’s that I’ve followed every year since I was young. I am here. Here with my classmates that I’ve grown up with and followed these same trails with a dozen times.
I am a wanderer, and so I wandered.
As I’m walking alone through the twists and turns of Brush Lake, I see my classmates writing. I hear them reminiscing and remembering the memories of our childhood. I can’t help but smile. I’ve come upon a big curve at the end of the trail and a wave of nostalgia crashes over me. As children my class would zip through this curve to go to the lake. A feeling of love and peace has filled my chest.
I can almost feel 7 year old Hannah walking next to me. She loved coming to Brush Lake. She had the same love of Earth and nature that I do now. I can see her running in her small rain boots and looking for the different colored leaves that scattered the ground. I can hear her laugh when a raindrop falls onto her nose.
I hear rain and I snap back to reality. I feel a raindrop fall onto my notebook. I look up to see the canopy above me spitting water from the night’s rain to the ground. When I look down at my polka-dotted rainboots, a large mushroom is staring back up at me. As I study this mushroom, I see that it looks completely untouched by man. I feel myself jolt back in time again.
As a child I used to wander through these woods searching for mushrooms and leaves that looked like beautiful, autumn, watercolor paintings. The leaves I found I would turn into a bouquet. I would always try to pick the mushrooms growing on the side of trees. I would smell the earthy scent of the mushrooms and wrinkle my nose.
I continue walking through the winding paths of my childhood. As I walk, the trails begin to feel like the paths of my future. I think back to all of the times my classmates followed these trails. I realize this will be the last time we all walk here together.
The farther I walk down this trail the more I can feel it shortening. Soon I will reach the end of this trail. Soon my classmates will reach the end of the trail with me and will branch off into all different directions. Some may come back and walk these trails again. Some never will.
I think about the final goodbyes I will soon have to say. I think of the “see you soons” that may not be as soon as we think. I think of the bittersweetness of watching my classmates start their trek down the next great path of their lives.
I look up to see a girl walking a few paces ahead of me. As I try to catch up and figure out who she is she only seems to walk faster. I give up trying to match her pace and I follow her. I watch her. I see the strength she has. and the confident way she carries herself. I see her determination as she walks. I can hear the gentleness in her voice, yet she is still so powerful. She is a lioness in a birdcage. She is so full of dreams and she laughs without fear of what is ahead of her. She is someone I will always be two steps behind, but always continue to pursue.
As I sit and think about all these things, Brush Lake begins to feel less like a home. It begins to feel like a brand new place. A brand new adventure. A new set of trails waiting to be travelled. Brush Lake has become a home and a new adventure at the same time.
Seven year old Hannah walks alongside me through these winding trails as we follow the girl ahead of us. Brush Lake is like an old friend. I may not visit for a while, but I know when we meet again, we can catch up and take a stroll down memory lane.