I have seen the Atlantic Ocean, glistening in the dimming light of a July sunset,
Gazed at the rolling hills of West Virginia, reds and yellows whirling in the presence of an autumn breeze,
Questioned the never-ending green that only the Midwest offers, miles of grass and fields and farm,
Trekked the dry, cracked earth of Arizona, where snakes and tarantulas are friends, not foes,
Jumped in the clearest blue water that Jamaica has, snorkeling over a reef of bright corals and glittering fish,
Lounged behind a Dominican waterfall, surrounded by the small trickle of a stream in a hidden oasis of trees,
Greeted crowds of people with a smile and handshake in Haiti, easily conversing and telling jokes through a language barrier.
18 years, 18 states, 4 countries.
I feel as if I have seen the whole world, end to end,
And the beautiful thing is that I am nowhere near close to done.
One day, I will drift in a gondola down an Italian waterway,
Ski on a fresh sheet of snow in the peaks of a Colorado mountain range,
Buy handmade treasures from a marketplace in India,
See an aerial view of the Space Needle and drink black coffee in Washington,
Build a preschool for the underprivileged children of Benin in Africa,
Stand next to the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and realize how small I am compared to the world,
Revel at the Grand Canyon, vast and unchanging after all of these years,
Listen for a message that only I can hear over the ever rush of water at Niagara Falls.
My time is limited, but I’m not worried.
I’ll get around to it all eventually.
Only 32 states and 202 countries left.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.