My happy places


My neighborhood street on an unusually sunny winter day.

Sometimes it feels as if each day is a copy of the next, unable to be distinguished from one another. Especially in the middle of winter—when the clouds are opaque and prosaic, masking any light—each morning becomes as lifeless as a lamp with no light bulb or a vase only filled with fallen leaves. Empty and hollow, covered with a light wash of faded gray.

Thus, in this lull of mornings that cannot be discerned from nights, I try to remember places that pull me towards more color, more vibrance, and more life. I try to remember places that pull me away from feeling uncomfortably apathetic. 

I try to remember my happy places.

Grand Haven pier in March 

Although visiting the beach in the summer makes the most sense, there’s something special about taking a trip to the lake when few footsteps are scattered across the sand and a heavy breeze chills the air. 

I’m not exactly sure what it is about standing on the empty pier in the middle of spring that I find comforting. Maybe it’s because there, I feel like I can breathe. Almost devoid of people, the exposed shoreline and open, overlapping waves slow everything down for a few moments. Maybe it’s because there, the world and nature and life seem more prominent and significant than any of my worries.

Maybe it’s because there, my parents feel happy, so I automatically associate the scarlet lighthouse and shivering fishermen and neverending horizon with my dad’s smile. 

Used bookstores

To be fair, any place containing books could probably make me happy; however, small bookstores give off the same feeling of visiting your grandma or sitting near a comfortably warm fireplace. It’s more homey, more welcoming. 

The often crooked bookshelves with chipped corners reveal how they’ve been loved for many years, held pages of stories for many years. The owner sitting at their desk is usually quick to strike up a conversation, telling an anecdote or two about the dusty book you decide to look at. The filled shelves invite you to trace your finger along the spines, along the hundreds of worlds that are hidden within the pages.

Room 139

Two years ago, I was told that this classroom wasn’t a conventional classroom, and at the time, I didn’t truly understand how this could be possible. 

However, after spending three years in a room that is warmed by the wonderful presence of each person who enters its space, I can attest to the beginning statement. Its aged, assortment of couches have held laughter. Its blankets have wrapped those who’ve lacked comfort. Its people have graciously welcomed ideas and thoughts and emotion as effortlessly as waves blanket the sand. 

It’s a space of safety for many.

To say the least, she is my safe space, my warmth, and the reason I see color. ”

My neighborhood street

I’ve lived in the same house for almost seventeen years; thus, I can undoubtedly say that the street has seen me at my best and my worst. 

The various pine trees that line the edge of road watched me each year on Halloween, as I ran and danced and skipped aside them, dressed most likely as a witch. The pavement welcomed my shoes each day before and after school when I had to trek across my neighborhood to reach my bus stop. The dirt has most likely latched onto my skin and fallen off with the wind after soccer games and many failed attempts of cartwheels.

The blades of grass have heard my laughter, my joy. The sidewalk has felt my fear, my pain. 

It’s been here for everything—it’s been my home.

When I’m with you

This list would be wrongfully incomplete without mentioning my mom. This list could also trail on forever now that I have included her. 

To say the least, she is my safe space, my warmth, and the reason I see color. 

And I thank her for loving me unconditionally.