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As the shimmering city lights enveloped me in the night, I saw everybody around me and realized what it’s like to truly see. I saw my cousins, sitting in the front seat of their old, beat-up Jeep. I saw their tired happiness, the kind you feel when you suddenly realize that everything you’ve ever wanted in life is sitting right in front of you. It’s the kind of happiness you feel after having been sad for a long time. The kind where you look around and finally realize things are going how you want them to. I saw them feeling this, and not just feeling it, but embracing it. Embracing the happiness as though it were the last time they would ever feel it. I smiled, and as I was smiling, I was aware of the fact that I was smiling; aware of the fact that I was feeling the best kind of happiness with the best kind of people.
“Where exactly are we going?” I heard my cousin shout over the music.
I thought about it for a moment. Where were we going? What were we doing? I thought until I came up with a plan. I pulled out my phone, ignoring any previous text messages I had received, and I texted my friend, E.
E was an old friend with whom I used to go ice fishing. We normally only saw each other a few times a year during the winter when we would fish together. It had been a couple weeks since the last time we had seen each other, and since then, he had gone off to college. I decided that, considering he was the only person I knew from Minneapolis, I would ask him if he wanted to hang out. When he texted back, we made plans of where to meet, and we set off.
We careened down the freeway with the soft sound of my favorite song playing in the background, and I noticed the bright, tall buildings stretching out in front of me. I thought about people, and how they were in those buildings and they were feeling things too. And how some of them may have forgotten what this happiness feels like. I wondered how many people’s lives were just starting, and how many are just ending.
When we reached our destination at the Mall of America, we went down the stairs and into the smelly, dark train station. I sat down on the bench and played with the strings on my jeans anxiously. After just moments of waiting, the train had arrived. We got on and I took it all in, so as to never forget this specific moment. I looked out the window as the city passed me by in a blur.
After almost an hour of impatient waiting, I heard the appalling screeching that meant we were making another stop. I looked up at the stop and realized that it was the stop before ours. I became even more impatient. I texted E to distract myself and let him know we would be there in a few minutes.
Finally, when we reached our stop, I stood up and walked out into an entirely new scene. This train stop was above ground rather than below ground. It was near the very center of the city. The platform was bustling with people, hurrying to catch their next train. However, I was not worried about these people. I was only worried about one person.
I excitedly looked across the tracks, trying to catch sight of who I was looking for. After a few seconds of searching, I picked his face out of the crowd. Cautiously, I crossed over to the other side. After I introduced him to Jordan and Andrew, we suddenly both seemed to realize that we had no idea what we were doing.
“So you made me come all the way here to tell me that you don’t know what we’re doing?” E joked.
After a few minutes of discussion, we decided to go to the University campus. I had never been there before, so it was an exciting adventure for me. As we made our way through the city, I observed everything we passed by. Even the smallest things. It always amazed me that everybody we passed has a life of their own. Once we had reached campus, E started talking about his life in college.
It all sounded so exciting. As we walked, he would point at things and tell some story about them, or explain which buildings were used for which things. He also explained some general rules about college that everybody seems to know. It was all very confusing. After a couple hours of walking around, it was time for us to go. We could’ve stayed longer, but we wanted to go to the truck pulls, so we had to get going so we wouldn’t be late.
E walked us to the train platform, and we said our goodbyes and then headed off. As the train moved steadily, I thought back on the day, and the people, and the experiences that I knew I would never forget. The little things that day meant the most; the subtle jokes, the undertones of happiness throughout every moment of the day, the beauty of being able to see the world in its full glory.
We got off the train and into the car. We started driving to start our next adventure. I looked around me and at yet another beautiful moment. I remembered a line from a book I once read, where a character stated, “I feel infinite.” I had never understood what it meant until now. It’s the feeling when you realize that you are loved and that people care about you, and that everybody around you has somebody that loves them, and in that way we are all connected and infinite.
I realized then that everything was going to be okay.