The Simple Things in Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     As I stepped off the plane on that warm June afternoon, I peered curiously at the mysterious land that lay before me. With enormous trees, glistening water and scenic mountains, Lebanon was breathtaking. It reminded me of something from a fairy tale, and was unlike anything I had ever seen.

I was still trying to grasp the country's enormous beauty when a woman approached me. She seemed familiar, but I was sure I had never met her. She spoke in a vaguely recognizable language. It seemed as though I were in a dream, although I was definitely awake. For some reason, I felt a strange connection to her. Little did I know that she would become a large part of my experience. Finally I snapped out of my dream state and saw the woman walk to my mother. She hugged and kissed my mother while tears of joy streamed down her face.

My mother, radiating joy, looked over at us and said, "Ashley and Samantha, I would like you to meet your grandmother." They had not seen each other in years; my sister and I were overjoyed to witness this family reunion.

Our exuberant grandmother exclaimed over and over, "Marie, how you have changed! Look at your beautiful children." Although she was rather old, it was as if a breath of fresh air had seeped into her fragile body. "Come! I can hardly wait to show you everything," she said, hurrying to the taxi. "But first you must get a good night's rest."

The next morning, the sun rose high above the mountains. Birds chirped and there was a gentle breeze; it was a beautiful Sunday morning. One by one, my family climbed out of bed. My grandmother took my hand and led me onto the porch shaded by lush greenery. We chatted for hours. The view was serene and peaceful with deer and hummingbirds gathering food below us. Others joined us and we discussed love, family and life. We shared hopes and dreams. The adults sipped coffee and laughter filled the air as the children frolicked. This moment made me feel as if there was no other place in the world my family should be.

Later that afternoon, we all went to a magnificent beach just north of Beirut. It was my first glimpse of the dazzling Mediterranean. It was pure, clean and so clear that I could see my feet touching the sea floor. All our family and friends gathered to relax in the sun. Even strangers joined in on all the excitement.

During my visit, it became a Sunday ritual to throw parties on the beach. The first was particularly wonderful. The other children and I climbed the steep, jagged rocks. Then, sounds of joy filled the air as one by one we jumped into the sparkling water. We splashed and swam for hours. The adults blared their music until late evening when we all gathered to perform traditional dances. Each movement seemed to flow into the next with a perfect rhythmic sequence. When it got cool, we cuddled under a blanket, gazing up at the stars. The shimmering specks of light were so visible, not hidden by the clutter of city lights. I never wanted the beach fun to end. It seemed as though I did not have a care in the world. I listened to the waves break on the shore, and with it all my worries were washed away.

My three months in Lebanon exposed me to many new situations and ideas. Each memory is filled with joy, and every person I met was kinder than the last. It was like another universe few people have experienced, but I am one of the lucky ones. The time I spent with my family made me realize that life cannot be taken too seriously. People need to live each moment to the fullest.

Each day in Lebanon was filled with stimulating adventures and new experiences. My family made sure to leave me with the right impression of this beautiful country. This trip made me realize that I should cherish every moment God has granted me. The most important thing I realized is that no one can put a price tag on memories shared with your family. Never overlook the simple moments in life: they have been the most enjoyed.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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