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Lancaster County This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Corn surrounded me in undulating waves as far as I could see, and although it had shed its green complexion in favor of a white, arid appearance symbolizing the arrival of fall, the scene was spectacular.

The name of the town was Lancaster, located in the back country of southern Pennsylvania, and I was sitting on a rock outside a quaint shop that sold Amish baked goods. Initially, I had not been enthusiastic about a vacation to Amish country, but I did not show it out of respect for my father's excitement.

I was 14, and my life was a hurricane. For me, 14 was an age defined by sports, friends, social outings, and above all, a snobbish feeling of self-proclaimed maturity. It was an age when I began to sever myself from all things childlike, not out of real maturity, but because I desperately wanted to seem mature. In my eyes, I was an adult, all grown up, and ready to take on the world. (Oh, the irony!) And though I would not admit it, when I heard that my vacation would involve a trip to Lancaster County, the kingdom of cornfields, there was an element that thought it was beneath me. How wrong I was.

That trip was more than a vacation to me. To claim that it shaped who I am today would be, in part, a lie, but it would be safe to say that it awakened a part of me I had forgotten, a part of me that has come to define who I am.

As I sat brooding on that rock, awaiting my parents' return from the store, I noticed a group of boys playing some sort of game with a wooden hoop by the edge of the parking lot. They were dressed in plain suspenders, with no embellishments – not even a zipper. I began to think about how boring their lives must be; words that ran through my mind were “uncivilized,” “drab,” and “absurd.” I thought of them as another race of humans, with nothing in common with me.

Yet, as I continued to observe their game, I saw them running around like I did, laughing and playing their own secret games, bonding and making friendships that would last their whole lives. They moved as I did, and, apart from their clothes, they looked like me. What amazed me most was their comradery. They might as well have been brothers; some of them probably were.

At one point, the youngest (about six or seven) went sprawling on the gravel, scraping his knee badly enough to rip his pants and draw blood. All the other boys stopped and helped him up, calming him as he cried in pain. I saw that they were more than friends: they were family – warm, loving, and supportive of each other. And that's when I realized that there is, essentially, no difference between me and the Amish.

Every day I strive to be a good friend, a loving brother, and as accepting as I possibly can be. But above all else, I am a simple man. In this fast-paced world, I still think the Amish have the right formula for happiness, and though I may dress differently and follow a different religion, I will always be like them: simple. Simple like the corn that twisted and rippled around me, unaware of its own quiet beauty.

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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