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dscn0057It is Tuesday morning. My class quickly loads all our baggage in the truck, then we climb into the van. Luckily, we’re only ten students this year, so we can all travel together in one vehicle.

The radio is turned on full blast. One of us spent the last few days burning a CD with all our favorite songs, but we only realized today that there was now CD player in the van. I just wanna feel this moment, we sing full-throated, and we mean it. It is the second to last week of school, and we’re spending four days at Corkins Lodge, near Chama, northern New Mexico, at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. Next Thursday we will celebrate our graduation, and our paths will go separate ways. We try not to think about it too much, because most of us will attend different high schools, and another girl and I will leave the state.

We’ve been looking forward to this trip all year. Since October, we have cooked and sold hot lunches at school and held bake sales once a week to finance it. Our school’s tradition is that the eighth graders go to Corkins Lodge, and it always sounded like a lot of fun. Four days without homework, tests, or parents! Awesome!

The place is no disappointment. We arrive there at one o’clock and immediately unload the truck. Ms. Lewin, our history and math teacher, and Ms. Peterson, our younger math teacher, accompany us.

The house is a dream. It is made only of wood, and our bunk beds look as if they grow in trees. “It looks like the lost boys’ room, in Neverland,” says my friend Camila. “Except that we’re girls.” The lodge stands in the middle of a pine forest, surrounded by some other houses, and dscn0157between the trees we can see the mountains.

The rest of the afternoon goes by very slowly, much to our content. We spend it on the swings at the playground, and at the pool, where the water is so warm that it doesn’t matter when it starts raining a bit later.

The cooking group for that day makes potato stew and apple turnovers, which are deliciously crunchy. After supper, we watch a historical slave trade movie, “Amistad”. It is very violent and sad, and doesn’t have a happy end. Instead of popcorn, we scrunch big pretzels. Another teacher has given them to us because at school, I’m known as the pretzel-thief, always trying to steal them from the office when no teacher is there.

The next morning, it is my group’s turn to cook. We make parfaits and broccoli scramble, and I let the bacon burn. After breakfast our teachers take us to the river, where they assign each of us a rock or dead tree trunk or meadow where we sit alone for one and a half hours, not talking to anybody, writing our graduation speeches. I stare at the blank piece of paper in front of me, with no idea of what to write. We are supposed to write about how we changed ever since we came to the girls’ school. I know I have changed, just not how, so I sit there, observing a chipmunk racing its buddy up a tree. After a while, a song from the musical “Les Misérables” comes to my mind. It is called “Who am I”. I start thinking about this question. Who was I a year ago, and who am I know? Am I still the same person? Definitely not! So I start writing, not really thinking about what exactly I am scribbling in notebook, until we have to pack up.

That afternoon, we go to the pool again. Time seems to pass slowly, which is fine with me. I just want to feel the moment. When it starts raining again, I leave my friends in the pool and go back inside, where Cleo and Ms. Peterson are making pizzelle, Italian anise-spiced waffles. We have a lot of fun, especially when I put too much dough in the waffle iron and Cleo and I get to eat it. Later, we make ice cream. We turn the handle of the ice-churn until we can’t feel our fingers, but it is worth it. The ice cream is white, rich and creamy, and we get to lick the rest from the container. Ms. Lewin makes hot fudge and proudly asks me if it isn’t at least as good as Swiss chocolate. “Almost,” I answer with a grin, and pour an extra portion of it on my ice cream.

Later on, I bitterly regdscn0104ret having eaten that much dessert before supper, when my stomach loudly complains about the ice and the hot chocolate, and I have to pass dinner.

We take a night walk as soon as it is dark, with Ms. Peterson, who has a lot of fun scaring us. One time she suddenly disappears, and we scream when she pops up from behind a tree.

Thursday is the same as Wednesday, only sunnier. We make real American pie with the rest of the ice cream. I cut out flowers and roses from the dough to put on the piecrust.

In the past few months I have been writing a story that includes all my class mates. During our retreat Camila reads it out loud to us. It is sixty single-interval typed pages long, but we get through all of it. Each one of us made a request of how their character should be, and I have written it. Lauren Komer, a born rebel, wanted to be a female officer, while Valerie, a real romanticist, wanted to fall helplessly in love.

I have been treasuring each of these moments in my heart, and I will never forget them. Pretzels, night walks, rebellions … I will always remember what they meant to me. One day, I might look back at this wonderful time and say: “What a kid I was…”

But until then, I just wanna feel this moment!

Hannah