Wonder | Teen Ink


March 14, 2023
By GabiGuidero BRONZE, Bellevue, Washington
GabiGuidero BRONZE, Bellevue, Washington
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments


Cold. Brittle, wet sand, crackling beneath sore toes. Calm. Salt breeze winding its way through tired, sweat-ridden hair. Sodium-enriched water numbing throbbing muscles. The ache lessens. There’s a feeling of something simple, but so present – peace.

For me, the beach isn’t usually peaceful. I find it drowning – endless waves on waves of white noise, taking any thoughts that trickle into my mind and crushing them under gallons of water. The beach erases all the jumble I have tangled in my ball-of-yarn-like head. But it’s not calming. It’s not serene. There’s no peace.

In August, I backpacked along Washington’s Third Beach, camping at Scott Creek, on a school outdoor trip. There was a moment for me, a moment when my body ached and I just wanted to sleep, when I had been backpacking for hours, when the blisters on my feet were really starting to complain, where I walked out onto the beach. I saw myself, and I saw tumbling, turbulent waves. I was minute. But at the same time, so big. So noisy, compared to the now quietly lapping waves. So complex, when the water around me flowed so simply.

I looked up. Breaking away from the sights of water swirling onto shore, I glimpsed little needle points of light winking back. My eyes adjusted, and there was the Milky Way. A dusting of flour across a pitch-black cutting board. The first step into something so much bigger. One hundred thousand million stars, stretching out farther than I could see. And, strangely, I didn’t feel small anymore. Even seeing the world stretching up higher than I could reach, I didn’t feel small. No – I felt whole. Like some calming part of me that was missing – some part that got lost in that tangled, jumbled head – found a space to fill. It wasn’t a complex feeling, but it was enough to replace the jumble in my head. To wash away the noise. And it wasn’t drowning – it was quiet. It was clean.

Peace is a feeling that comes to you unexpectedly. I felt it on that beach. But I didn't predict it. Unfortunately, it isn’t a feeling you can force. Peace is rare.

I know I don’t convey peace; I’m tightly wound – almost everything matters to me. Even minute details – filling up my water bottle the night before school, so there’s no chance I’ll forget it the next day, or laying out my clothes so I won’t have that morning horror of “I don’t have anything to wear.” My daily life is full of too many things that matter – so, it’s full of chaos. But on that beach, for a second, nothing mattered. All I needed to do was be. And not be personable, not be bubbly, not be careful about what I do or don’t say. There was no box to check, no task to complete, no person to please. There was nothing to say.

That was the first time I felt peace. Real peace – not those moments of calm you get every now and then, bites of rest between chaos, where you let yourself take a rest and breathe. This was different; it was lasting, and it stuck with me. During the backpacking trip, the days were hectic, with early morning rises and long hikes uphill, but the nights were calming. It’s where I saw – really, for the first time – how nature bonds. How it can connect us all with the same feeling, the same memory, a shared experience. Where it fills so many people with so much and takes so little.

I hold onto brief moments of calm tightly. Keep them wound up in my ball of yarn. I hold them close, because I’m afraid that if I let them go, they’ll go. But with this feeling of peace, of lasting calm, it’s different. I don’t find myself needing to hold on. But the feeling didn’t leave, either. Not fully. And now, when I’m back in my chaotic life, I can remember. Crash. That beach. Salt and pepper dots crackling under tired toes. That sand. Cold.

The author's comments:

I am a junior living in the greater Seattle area.  I am Mexican Italian Chinese and Filipino, and I care a lot about the intersection of race and identity.  I enjoy writing poetry and memoirs.

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