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As I look around me, surveying my surroundings, everything seems different. The sunlight that is spilling onto the ocean sparkles like a thousand gems, and I’m lead to wonder if there actually are a thousand gems floating on the clear surface. The palm trees sweep over me, like protectors, never tiring of providing me shade. A seagull whooshes over me, bringing freedom to my body, also. The sand softly crunches under my feet, a million grains smushed per footprint. Yet, the tide washes them away, so I’m here, but there is no proof that I ever came. My heart beats gently in my chest, like a friend. I root my feet deeper, deeper, into the sand. My eyes are closed, but the bejeweled ocean still swims in front of my focus. “Paradise”, I think slowly. I open my eyes, and it’s like the slow motion film has stopped. My best friend, Katy, grabs my arm and says loudly over the waves, “Melody, let’s go into the water!” I smile at her, and without saying anything else, we dash in. We spend the next few hours body surfing, boogie boarding, and everything else two city girls visiting California could want to do. It was only when we returned to our hotel, late that night, stuffed with fresh sushi and organic juice, that I remembered those three seconds, standing there with my eyes closed and the wind in my hair. “Paradise” I had thought. But then I looked around the darkening hotel room, where I could see the outlines of my family, could hear their breathing, as the soft sheets wrapped around me in a perfect way, I sort of felt like that was paradise, too.

We left California a few days later, and at first, I worried that I would be losing my precious paradise. But, I had the window seat in our plane, and the clouds looked like bunnies. I also got an orange fizzy water, and some of my favorite chips, so that was pretty great, also. What I realized, sitting there on that plane, watching California fade away, is that paradise is something you carry with you. You just need to find it.

And you know what? As I sit here, writing this on the window seat of our apartment, watching the sunset over New York City, I kind of feel like this is paradise, too.

Kaya Simcoe Paradise?
Kaya Simcoe, 11
Cardiff, CA