Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. — Joseph Campbell

Please describe a setting.   Take a moment to think about a place that is important to you.   You may choose your room or a particular part of your home or backyard.   Or you could write about a place you went this summer, perhaps camp or somewhere you went for vacation.  Once you have decided on a place, I would like you to do a short exercise I call “Making a Movie Behind your Eyelids.”  It works like this.   Close your eyes and imagine you are in your special spot.  Stay there for a moment.  Really take some time to be in that place.  What do you see?  Look around carefully.   What do you hear?  What do you smell?  What do you feel?  (This feeling could either be the actual sense of touch or more of an emotional sense.)

Once you have lived in this place for some time, open your eyes and write!!!  If you run out of things to say, close your eyes again and see what you notice that you did not already include in your response.

Generally, your response should be at least 250 words, but please don’t just aim for that.  Do the best job you can describing your setting.  Don’t just add more to get to the minimum number of words.  Make sure that each word counts!  I recommend that you write your response in Word or as a Google doc and then cut and paste your response into the comment box.  I encourage this, because in case something happens and your response doesn’t appear, you still have your homework!!! Good luck and have fun!

By the way, in order to comment on this post, you will need to click onto the title of the post.  This will lead you to a new page, where there will be a box for commenting at the bottom of the post. Once you are on the page that has the comment box at the bottom be sure to read all of the following instructions before you begin.

33 thoughts on “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. — Joseph Campbell

  1. This summer I went to Beach Haven in LBI. My special place from there is the beginning of Main Street where you can see the entire town, booming with activity. I usually went at night so I remember seeing the ferris wheel lit up at Fantasy Island. The very popular bar is at the beginning and a couple feet past is a restaurant called Chicken or the Egg. This place was open all day and night so I went there often. I also rennet seeing Silver Sun Mall. This was not a mall but rather a big store with all sorts of cool stuff in it. The smell of the warm donuts being served in the donut shop beside me made my mouth water. Then there was a Ben and Jerry’s that always seemed to have an enormous line. Right beside it was a pizza shop that my cousin and I went to often. I always felt happy when I turned off the side road into the main road and seeing all the shops. A little ways down was a 7 Eleven where I would get slushies from. The cotton candy one was my favorite. The small little town felt like a movie scene, it felt fake. My cousin would bike beside me and try to knock me off my bike which I did not like. Other than that the town was like a dream. I hope to go back next summer and see my special spot again.

    • Abby, what I love about your post is that I have been exactly where you are talking about. Your description of the street is perfect. I love imagining the lit up ferris wheel while reading your writing. my favorite part about the whole thing is how you included how Ben & Jerry’s is always packed. Your writing is beautiful. Great job!

  2. When I close my eyes and think of a place important to me, I think of my old home in Ontario. I see the recognizable small living room, kitchen and bathroom. I remember the small room containing a mattress I slept on. It was a small, but comfy duplex in a small town on the outskirts of Toronto. I also saw our extensive backyard, where we grew our own little garden and had once seen a nest full of blue robin eggs in one of our bushes. I already could feel myself starting to smile, there was lots of happiness was connected here – it was the place that made me, me. This was the place where I grew up for over a half of my life, and for a portion of my school life I went there. Like my younger sister, we were both born in Toronto. Going into third grade, I moved to New York and eventually I ended up in this class. Many memories are associated with this place, and when I think of it, I feel a sense of acute nostalgia. It was back when my sister and I were still in elementary school, and my older sister who is now in college was back in high school. I miss the town I used to live in because everything felt close by, safe, and cozy. Unlike where I live now, I could bike or walk to the park or my school. Although the house I live in right now is larger and more grand, I still feel like my true home is in Canada. We now go back to Toronto every summer, but I wish that we could stay for longer.

    • Tony, I can really picture your old home and the connection you had with it. Your writing was written very beautifully. I love how you compared your story to where you are today. Keep up the good work!

  3. When I close my eyes and think of a special place, it is the town I went to stay in in China for vacation. The special place there is right when I exit the building, where, in front of me there is a whole street full of busy restaurants. I remember smelling all the delicious smells that swam out of all four of them. The restaurant that I enjoy the most is the noodles restaurant. I went there a couple times with my cousin and my brother. Right by the restaurants is a small movie theater, which is not as big as the American movie theaters, but just as good. I watched Despicable Me 3 there, in Chinese. When you walk past the restaurants, there are many shopping places where you can buy stuff, and a large grocery mart, called Bravo YH. A supermarket there sells the best ice pops. Oh, they were too good. I remember there every night for one. There is also a place where you can buy phones, called China Mobile. They were usually crowded with customers. Many people ride around in motorcycles and bikes, and others walk. People who are late to work run to catch buses. Cars are not really common here. It is really more of a small town than a city, although it is considered a city. Thinking about it, I feel very happy. There were a lot of things to do and play. I had a lot of fun, and I wished we could’ve stayed longer.

    • Jacky, I’ve always wanted to go to China, but I’ve never gotten the opportunity to. You’ve described the place extremely well, and it has allowed me to visualize China like I never have been able to before. My favorite part was when you described the smell of the street full of restaurants, and though I’ll probably never be able to eat from them, just imagining them makes me hungry. Great Job.

  4. When I close my eyes I am immediately at Disney World. I see the vibrant and beautiful colors, and the pastel blue and off-white of the famous castle. I am standing in the middle of “human traffic”, people pointing and screaming with joy. My parents jostle around the crowd, struggling to take a picture of my brother and I in front of the castle. I squint at the shining sun. People from across the street line up to meet and take pictures with Aurora. I can smell the fresh, salty pretzels and can also smell the crispy, sweet churros. We then wait to get a churro ourselves, and the Disney Castle can be clearly seen from the line. Its tall and pointy peaks cut the sky and the meticulous detailing all around especially catches my eye. The small churro stand even has an elegant style and the umbrella with pastel blue stripes matches the theme of the castle. I can also spot a few people in the crowd wearing different styled Minnie ears, most with the classic red polka dotted bow. Others wear Pluto or Goofy hats. I can hear the sound of the horses walking, its hooves clicking against the stone ground, and pulling a happy family along Main Street. The carriage is painted white, with a glossy polish, and no chip nor imperfection in the paint can be found. I’ve only been to Disney World twice, but I can remember it like I’m there everyday. I will never forget the magical vibe at Disney World.

    • Ellie, I loved how many interesting adjectives you included to describe your “special place.” It really helped me be able to see all of the things you described, in my mind’s eye. This is quite impressive, seeing as I’ve never even actually been to Disney World! Great work 😉

  5. When I close my eyes, I immediately think of Surf City, LBI. I go there every summer with all my cousins in one big beach house. I can see the beach and smell the salty air. In Surf City, there is really just one street that has ice cream shops, bakeries and mini golf courses That I love to explore in the evening. I can see my cousin and my friend as we walk down long beach boulevard at night. There is tons of people just hanging out. My brother and my cousin ride passed us on their beach bikes, rushing to the best mini golf course. My favorite course, Island is crowded with people. The ice cream parlor is also jammed. This is my favorite time of the night. You have no responsibilities, everyone is there for a fun relaxing night. I see a band playing outside the boutique. Strings of lights hang upon them like stars. I take a deep breath and think about how great this all is. Just the simple things like the young child getting his first hole in 1, or the ocean breeze blowing on my ponytail. I may still have sand on my toes from earlier that day on the beach, but somehow it feels like the sand belongs there. Night time at the beach is the most peaceful time, and I really wish I never left.

    • Patsy, this sounds so beautiful, the way you wrote really helped me to understand the gorgeous area of LBI. I hope you had the best time while you were there! Wonderful job on your blog post.
      -Ryan McGinley

  6. When I close my eyes, the special place I imagine is my cousin’s house in Ghana where I went on vacation to a couple of years ago. It’s one of favorite places on Earth. I see the open kitchen and me and all my cousins making breakfast in the morning. I see my cousins’ Mansah and Joel’s room, where my brother, Mansah, Joel, and I would spend hours playing Uno. And at night when we’d lay awake in the night talking instead of sleeping like we were supposed to. I see the sandy roads outside the gates to the house. I fondly recall the times we spent walking to storefronts people would set up and walking past chickens, a baby goat and a herd of cows. I also loved the days we’d go to the Accra Mall and roam for hours going to stores, the movies, and eating at this Asian Fusion restaurant. But the memories I treasure most are just the days my cousins, my brother and I would just stay home, and do nothing but watch tv, or if the power went out, we’d play tournament after tournament of cards. I cherish going to Ghana so much, I love it so much and it’s such a unique place.

    • I love you setting, it reminds me a lot of mine, India at my grandmothers house. I really enjoyed your memories about your cousins and the little things you remembered because thats what makes it all more special. Good job!!
      – Anjali

  7. When I close my eyes, I can see the comfort of my living room. Keiko, my Chihuahua, is on my chest, licking my face for attention. The television is on, showing Blue Bloods. I smell the savory scent of my mom making dinner. My dad is sitting next to me, as usual, checking his Facebook account. Through the window, I can see the midnight blue sky, the moon shining as bright as ever. It was only a little while until the food is ready. Soon, my mom is in the room, watching Blue Bloods beside the couch. The couch cover is once again messed up, though I only care that I have to fix it again. I see the pile of pillows in the corner of the room since we couldn’t seem to put them anywhere else. I can feel the wind coming from the fan, my hair getting in my face. I can see our family picture, hanging on the wall, and the picture of a flower that looked like Barbie. The television is hurting my eyes, but I ignore it. My book is on the floor, scattered in pieces, due to how old it is.
    Keiko is still nudging and licking me, but after a while he gives up, putting his head on my chest. Despite showering him a few weeks ago, he smells like dead fish. His hair is losing its tint, as his hair is shedding and turning white. His hair is very smooth but is still pretty bumpy. His teeth are partially sticking out, especially two of them that look like fangs. For a Chihuahua, he is pretty big, but he still is very small.
    As I look around the room, I notice how significant several of these household items were. The more I look around, the more I feel comfortable in my lovely house.Although it was cold, I still felt warm, as I’m surrounded by the ones I love the most.

  8. When I close my eyes, I think of the camp I went to during the summer. I see a warm, sunny day in the Quad on the campus of Roger Williams University. I’m enjoying yet another beautiful day at CTY. Everyone had just finished lunch, so the Quad was, as usual, full. There were people everywhere. Many were playing soccer, or volleyball, or 4-square, or Ultimate Frisbee, or just sitting and talking. I sat and read at the foot of a shady hill, taking it all in: the gentle breeze, the warm sun on my face, the cool grass. Yet for some reason, I could not concentrate on reading. There were too many thought whirling around inside my mind. I sat there, not believing that the end of camp was nearing, day by day. The end of a three week paradise. I felt sad about leaving. All the friends I had made in my hall, never again to be seen, for they were all from different parts of the country, and some even the world. I felt sad, thinking about all the experiences we had shared, never again to be had with the same people. I became lost in memory, going over all my memories and experiences of camp. But eventually, a calm settled over me, for I realized that even though I wouldn’t experience the same things again, I would still have the memory of it. Then a shrill whistle jolted me out of my thoughts, signifying that Quad time was over, and that it was time to go back to class.

    • I think you did a great job because you were so descriptive. I like how you chose your summer camp because it was so interesting and you explained it so well.

  9. When I close my eyes, the comforting place in which I imagine is the view from the top of Masada. A couple of years ago, I went to Israel with my older sister, and we would visit places of historical importance with our cousins. One day, without any warning our uncle came up to my grandma’s apartment and woke us up at three in the morning to experience the sunrise at Masada. Sitting in the uncomfortable car in complete silence for two hours, we get there finally looking up and seeing all the stairs we needed to climb. My cousins complaining, my sister panting, and me dreary eyed we climbed all the way to the top. On the top I witnessed, every shade of pink that hit the sky that day, and the orange crown above the sun. Everywhere we looked, whether it was on a rock or the ground below, there were intricate designs. The cool breeze that came made me shiver. I felt unstoppable. I felt the dust on my hands from when we climbed up and I heard birds chirping. I could smell fresh air and admiration. Listening to the tour guide of a separate group, learning the history of where I was standing. Although I was exhausted my body was filled with energy from the scenery, everywhere I looked there was beauty. We finally sat down, my uncle giving us all breakfast, the sweet nutella filled sandwich making my mouth water. Now I open my eyes back to the reality of my messy room, left with only the memory of that great day.

  10. When I close my eyes and think of a special place, I think of my house. I’ve been living in my house all my life and it is very special to me. For me, there is nothing better than the comfort of my own home. From my room, bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, and basement, there is no place I would rather stay at. I feel very safe and relaxed. In my head, I think of all the memories that are associated with my house. There are many activities available at my house which makes it entertaining as well. I can play basketball outside, work out, play video game, watch tv, relax in my hot tub, etc. My house brings me lots of joy. My safe community adds a lot to my house. I can imagine myself in the living room watching a movie with my family which can be a fun time. My house brings me lots of joy which burns out the pain.

  11. When I close my eyes and think of a place I love, I think of my camp. My camp is called DCITP, or Day Camp In The Park. The second I closed my eyes I was immediately transported to what I like to think of as, my home away from home. My camp is built on Lake Tiorati which is a lake that is in the middle of a New York State Park. The first sounds I thought of were the rustling leaves of the trees as a breeze blows by, and the talking and shouting of happy campers in the lake or on the soccer field. Nothing makes me happier than being there with all of my best friends, surrounded by the wonderful, natural area. I saw the large basketball courts and the two huge art cabins used for creativity. When I’m there, my heart is full and I am actually smiling so wide as I write this because of the beauty of this place. I can smell, the cooking of the food for lunchtime and the fires built to make s’mores. Right when I closed my eyes, it felt so real and as if I was actually there, that when I opened them, I wasn’t too happy that it wasn’t true. I wish so much, that I was there right now, with the people I love beyond words. I’d give anything to be running around in the bright green woods, or taking a boat across the once still lake to what we call blueberry Island. DCITP is my favorite place and I feel nothing but love when I close my eyes and picture being there.

  12. When I try to think of a place where I am happy and full of joy, I imagine my vacation for the summer, Cape Cod. Many areas of this great resort have permanently engraved themselves in my thoughts. When I imagine the lake-side cottage I stayed at, my thoughts always travel to the magnificent view that the cottage offered. Sitting on the porch, I was able to soak in the fabulous view of the lake and the wildlife around it. The lake was always a bright blue, and never was seen without a family of ducks or an occasional swan swimming inside it. I hear the chirping of the birds, and I feel the light, cool breeze providing a perfect temperature for relaxation. But, this is not the only great place that was included in my trip to Cape Cod, for I also discovered the spectacular beaches. Every beach that my family and I went to was beautiful, and all aspects of my time at each of the beaches allowed me to forget my problems, and fully release my stress. The ripple of the waves, the warm sand on my feet, and the constant beam of sunlight combined to create the perfect place.

  13. When I close my eyes, I imagine my grandmothers house in India, which I visited many times before. I can see the beautiful cherry tree outside and the sound of the autorick shaws starting up. I wake up to the sound of the rooster. I can see both of my grandmothers talking about some new Indian politics. When I walk past the door, I can see my cousin walking up the driveway to say hi before he went to school. This is a small town in Vaniampara, Pallakkad in India. Everything there is a walkable distance. Since it was a very small town, almost everyone knew each other. They would just stop by to say hello. Two years ago, I traveled to India by myself and every Sunday after church, we would all go back to my grandmother’s house and have lunch. We would all just talk about how we were doing. No TV, no phones, just communicating. We all cared for each other, supported each other and laughed with one another that often times, we would end up crying. I loved it. I felt a sense of community. Every time I had to leave, it would be very sad to leave my family and I knew that after spending heartfelt time together, we would never forget each other.

    • Wow. This is really interesting. I also chose my grandparents house as my special place, but I think it is very unique that your grandparents live in India. It is so cool how you connect with your grandparents on such an emotional level. I also think it is nice how everybody knows everybody in your grandparents home town.

  14. A place I visited that fills me with joy has to be the Baptism Party I attended this evening. Although you see this catering hall as crowded, a tad chaotic, and busy, I see family, compassion, good memories, and delicious food. We were celebrating my cousin Madison’s Baptism, and at the party I was able to catch up with family members that I haven’t seen in a very long time. I told stories from my summer to my Aunt and Uncle, who were listening with eager ears. My cousin that I haven’t seen in years arrived, and he was so surprised to see how grown my brother and I are now. My brother and I could barely contain our excitement to see our cousin again. Then dinner was served, and it was delicious. The hall was filled with the smell of Italian food, and the sound of little kids, including my sister, running around and dancing. Seeing my sister, Stella, dance and play with other kids made us all laugh, and it entertained us. Then a magician came for the little kids, and there were balloons given out to the kids, they held doves, and they all saw a bunny. There is nothing more valuable than the expressions on their faces when they witnessed the magic with their own eyes. Then we all saw baby Madison in her grown, and she looked like an angel. I am very family oriented, so reconnecting with those I’ve missed is the greatest feeling. Especially hearing my family plan dates for my loved ones to visit us. I will always remember this night, and I’ll always be so grateful for my family.

  15. When I close my eyes and think of a happy place, I envision Cape Cod. The breeze you feel in the bay and the salty air all add to the feeling of a relaxing and peaceful area. It’s the perfect place to sit back and unplug from all of the modern day electronics. With plenty of gift shops and very little parking, you are usually forced to walk around the nearly-empty streets, in which you can only hear your footsteps and nothing else. On the flip side, across on the other side of the bay is a busy square with so many activities that you can’t get bored. There are restaurants, and you can’t get better seafood when you are eating from a place that catches their own fish. Right next to those, they have basketball courts and different fields that are never empty, so you can always head over and join in on a game. Altogether, the feeling you get while staying there is that you don’t want to leave. And when you do leave, your first question will be “When are we coming back?”

  16. When I close my eyes and imagine a place that makes me happy, my mind goes to my best friend’s room. There are so many fun memories we have together that took place there, and I feel like this is the perfect time to commemorate such a positive space. The experience in my mind’s eye begins when I step over the little gate in her doorway that keeps her crazy pug, Remmi, out of her room, who I always jokingly say resembles a sausage with legs. My friend agrees, of course, and always answers by saying, “Well, you’re welcome to take her, she’s an insane little sausage.” We laugh, and I go to sit on her bed, but before I can take a seat, I have to move one of her two cats, or sometimes even both of them. While petting Stormy, the fluffier of the two felines, (sorry Shadow) she puts on some music, and we listen to the latest hits as we talk about our days, complain about little siblings, and laugh at the stupidest things. I feel a sense of pure happiness as she gets up to tell her little brother to turn down the TV downstairs, and I look around her room. I see the wooden, “Tumblr-esque,” sign on her shelf, saying, “Strength: The capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands… and then eat just one of the pieces.” I smile to myself as my eyes slide over to her desk, where there’s an uncountable amount of miniature objects. Mini clipboards, mini erasers, mini washi tapes, you name it. On top of the desk is a huge pile of stuffed animals, of every imaginable species, but mostly cats. She comes back into the room as I spot a new shade of lipstick on her dresser, and we spend an alarming amount of time making stupid faces in her mirror, with incredibly overlined lips, very Kardashian-like. After a while, I have to blow my nose because there’s cat hair literally everywhere, but I don’t even mind. The next time we look at the clock, it’s nearly 6 o’clock, and her mom comes in to ask if I would like to stay for dinner, which is, surprise, surprise, chicken cutlets. It seems that every single time I go to her house, it’s chicken cutlet night. Not on purpose, of course, just a funny coincidence. After dinner, it’s time for me to leave. I stand by the front door as I put on my shoes, and my legs get scratched by a crazy and jumping Remmi. I’m used to it by now, so I don’t mind, but her mom calls the little sausage away, and I say goodbye to my friend. We both smile as I thank her mom for dinner, and I call out “See ya’ tomorrow!” as I walk out the door. As I’m walking to my mom’s car parked in the driveway, I look back at the window and see my best friend holding Shadow, while Remmi is barking and running around her feet. I smile and wave to her as I think to myself that I can’t wait to come back, and I wonder what fun things we’ll do then.

  17. When I close my eyes to see a place close to my heart, my grandparents house in New Jersey comes to mind. In every corner of their house I have fond memories. As I stand outside, I can’t help but admire the little yellow house with brick steps leading up to the door. On the inside, I can see my grandmother and grandfather talking to each other and laughing. A fine scent hangs in the air, which is my grandmother’s home cooking. As I sit down in the living room by the roaring fire, I sink into the oversized leather chair and am always amazed by the antique books that line the walls. From the upstairs window, I look out and see images of past family baseball games played in the cul-de-sac. In the garage I smell oil. I see my grandfather’s old Chrysler lying still in its place. Sadly, he rarely takes it out for a drive anymore, hence the scent of oil. Out in the patio, especially in the summertime, I view my parents, aunts and uncles sitting around the table chatting. My grandfather is at the head and his big belly is shaking from his jovial laughter, while my grandmother just smiles, at the opposite end of the table. The bedroom set aside for me is my favorite of all. It is like my room away from home, but more. There is a big comfy bed, a television, and a plenty of books for me to read. Any time I am given the opportunity to sleep over, I am more than willing to do so. I wish that everyone could feel the love and warmth that is in my grandparent’s house.

  18. When I close my eyes I dream of myself in the Library at Cornell University.  Cornell is a beautiful and old university situated atop a hill overlooking a town.  The library has two amazing sections, one above and one below ground.  When you enter the library you can head up a wide spiral staircase until you reach the first door. Once you enter through the door you immediately see three levels of books each connected by floating pathways.  The smell of old books and wood wafts into your nose as you eyes glance at the comfortable seating area.  At one end of the room there is a staircase to get to the books and at the other end is a large window overlooking the campus.  You can hear the murmurs of busy college students rushing to finish essays that should have been finished weeks earlier and the air is filled with nervous energy.  From the entrance to the building there is another pathway leading to a glass staircase which goes underground.  This leads to a welcoming area filled with couches and other chairs.  This area overlooks another section of the library called the “Stacks” where student go to do work without any distractions. For the miserable and hungry students spending all night at the library pizza can be delivered. Every hour a loud bell rings and campus security comes to check if everyone in the building has a Cornell ID. This is when I leave. But even when I am leaving my mind is filled with the question of when will I next return.

  19. When I think of my favorite place in the world, Isle of Palms, South Carolina immediately comes to mind. I love going to the beach at high tide. There is only about ten yards of beach left at this point, running along the entire island. When I look to my left I see a big, rocky jetty piercing into the ocean. The waves rising up the sides, completely engulfing the lower rocks in white, frothy crashes, splattering water droplets everywhere. The breeze is pulling my hair towards the land. I take a deep breath in, and taste the tang of salt in the air. I look to my right, where there is the boardwalk. Live music playing and the sound of laughter fill my ears. Every once in awhile a couple or a family walk down the wide steps onto the beach to enjoy the unbelievable setting. I walk forwards into the ocean. My muscles tighten, expecting a jolt of cold to shoot through me, but it doesn’t. The water is warm. I squeeze my toes, squishing the sand. As I walk around I occasionally feel a hard spot under my foot. I almost always pick it up and it is always a shell. If the shell is broken I throw it back into the water, but on the unusual occasion that it isn’t, I stow it in my sweatshirt pocket. Once my toes prune up, I walk back to my house and enjoy the warmth.

    • Hailey, South Carolina sound amazing, great job describing it. I can really picture it as if I was there. Great job really describing it!

  20. When I close my eyes and imagine a special place, I see my uncle’s apartment in Russia. It isn’t big. Nothing too modern. Just a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a storage closet. Their dining table is for four people, and when we come over, my sister and I have to sleep on the floor. But I don’t mind. My family travels to Russia to see our relatives every other year. We usually spend our days there going sight-seeing, but on the occasion that it rains, my cousins and I sit on their living room couch and spend hours talking. I have four cousins that live in Russia. One of them is 19, the other is 12, another is 10, and the youngest is 3. Everyone in Russia wants to know how life is in America. It’s kind of funny, really. They ask us if our school teaches Russian, or if we know the alphabet in English, or if all of our friends speak Russian. When we (my sister, my brother and I) told our cousins that our school has a pool in it, or that we have three cafeterias at school, too, their eyes get so big that they leave no room on their faces for noses and mouths! While we talk, the smell of голубцы wafts into the living room. (In English, it’s pronounced “golubtsy.” This dish consists of minced beef wrapped in cabbage leaves that are boiled. It is one of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted!!) Our grandma is in the kitchen, as usual. She loves cooking and feeds us every food possible whenever she has the chance. As she cooks, my grandma sings, and let’s just say that she won’t be getting the lead roles in any musicals any time soon. Across the apartment the TV could be heard as it blares the theme of Game of Thrones. My uncle and aunt could be found in their room watching the movie with their cat curled up beside them. My parents would be talking on the small balcony overlooking the busy street below.
    Back in the living room, my cousins would joke around and we would all eventually end up rolling on the floor laughing. But all the fun unfortunately lasts only two weeks. As we walk out the apartment door the day of our flight back to America, I say goodbye to the picture frames on the shelf above the TV. I say goodbye to the tiny kitchen, and the torn up paint on the walls from the time the cat tried to climb them, and the old flooring that definitely needed repairing, and the huge fold out couch we had so much fun talking on, and the huge windows that had a amazing view of the street. I can’t say that when we were getting into the taxi that would take us to the airport I didn’t cry. But I knew that in another two years, when I come again, I will be saying hello to all those things, and not bidding them a farewell.

  21. When I close my eyes, I envision myself participating in the chess tournament at the serene chess camp I went to this summer. Run by the International Master, Dean Ippolito, the camp was an exciting place to learn and play. The camp was held in the tournament room. When I enter the room, I smell the overwhelming amount of Febreze and the vinyl chess boards in the air. I see about one hundred chess boards set up on several tables. When I look at the right, I see various trophies that he and his past students have won. On the left, I see the officials rating of amazing chess players that he had previously taught, and the players that he is still teaching. When I sit down on one of the seats, I feel anxious and excited. Who will I play? Will my opponent be good or bad? What opening will my opponent use? Will I play as black or white? Waiting for a minute to decide the matchups is like waiting for a thousand years. The air conditioning makes the room so cold that it no longer felt that it was summer. When I finally get called and assigned to a specific chess board, I make the first move and the game begins.

  22. “A True Happy Place”

    The cheer of the crowd when you make a good play
    The sound of a buzzer as you score
    The flash of a camera as you make a save
    Finally body checking your most hated enemy
    Beating the team that you’ve never beat before
    Thinking quickly and correctly
    These are the things that make you proud

    The ring of the puck as it hits the post
    The thud of a person as they fall into the boards
    The creak of the door as you make a change
    The bang of a stick as it hits the ice
    The screech of the AC as it turns on mid game
    The yell of your coach carrying on the ice
    The smell of sweat stuck to your pads
    Sweat drenching your hair
    These are the things that others hate yet you love so much

    The feeling of pure adrenaline rushing through your body
    The impact of a puck on your leg
    The feeling of your muscles twitching on your face to make a smile
    The feeling of someone staring at you in bewilderment
    A pat on the back from a friend
    Meeting the player who gave you such a hard time
    These are the things that make you happy

    The stripes of a reff
    The endless noise of everything
    The attention of everyone
    Forgetting about everything but the game
    Trying to prove your the best
    A bond that no one else will ever understand
    These are the things that you are so familiar with but others think is so bizarre

    Responsibility
    Timing
    Hand eye
    Good choices
    Quick thinking
    Social skills
    Listening
    Trusting
    Teamwork
    Making new friends
    These are the things that you improve on

    All of these things are what make you a hockey player, and the ice your happy place.

  23. When I close my eyes, I think of Okemo Mountain. It is a skiing resort in Vermont and my favorite place to think about. We had rented a cabin to live in for the week that was on the mountain. On the inside of the cabin, there were no TVs or screens or anything. I had my grandma, my dad, my mom, my brother, and my uncle. There was plenty of lighting and a fireplace, accompanied by warm sofas, beds, and blankets. There, we had great fun playing card games and eating delicious meals made right in the kitchen we had, while we could hear the sharp, cold wind whistling outside, where there was snow and darkness. It made the cabin feel like a safe haven where you knew you couldn’t be lost in the warmth of the crackling fire and loving family. It truly felt like home in a sense.
    After a long sleep, the entire group was up early in the morning to go skiing. The sun shined brightly on the newly fallen snow, which lay in such peace, glistening in the beautiful morning light. The frigid air was filled with an empowering, refreshing feeling that made me more excited every second I waited for my family to get ready. I was ready to have the time of my life.
    We set down our skis and decided to go to the peak. To do that, we had to ski quite a distance to a lift that would take us there. I moved over to where the steep slopes began and peered down. I filled with a tension and excitement I had never known before in anticipation. After what seemed like hours of waiting, although it probably was seconds, I jabbed my poles into the snow, and with one push, tipped over the edge and was off.
    I felt intense euphoria at every turn of my skis to put them on their edges while move across the snow at great speeds. The satisfaction and excitement made the 8 degree whether feel only more empowering, as it hit me like needles of ice against my face.
    Later, when we reached the top, we found out there was a fire watch tower. Me and my dad decided to take off our skis and go for a short trek into the woods to reach the base of the tower (which was surprisingly hard to do in skiing boots). When we finally got to the top, it was truly a sight to see. The fist thing to hit us, however was the wind. It was cold beyond reason and so strong, it almost tipped me over. When I got my balance back, I stood up to see the sight. I could see for dozens of miles in every direction and four surrounding skiing resorts. I could see so far, that the mountains turned white in the distance. It made me calmer as I thought about how lucky I was to be there at that moment, and how precious a memory it will be in the future.
    And precious it is.

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