One Happy Island
Tori, Age 13, New Hope, PA

“Aruba truly is one happy island,” my mother said to me as she drove me over to Sarah's condo near Eagle Beach. The scenery in Aruba never ceases to completely captivate me, as I am surrounded constantly by its astonishing beauty. I simply nod my head to acknowledge my mother and proceed to stare out the bright window of our giant rental car—that my dad somehow managed to wreck within the first few days of our vacation—as we glided into the reserved parking lot near the new condos.
My mother and I exchanged brief goodbyes as I left the car and walked over to Sarah’s condo. After a few taps on the door, I walked in. A bright smile from Sarah’s mother gladly welcomed me, and I had a feeling this would be one of the best and most memorable days of my life. We only remained in the condo for a short period of time before packing our beach bags and making our way down to Eagle Beach, which we could see from Sarah’s balcony.
As we slathered resplendent sun tan lotion on our gold tinted bodies, the soothing smell of coconut overwhelmed our senses; Aruba smelled like anyone would expect a lovely place like Aruba to smell, for even though it was only November, the illusion of summer cast itself in the warm atmosphere. The closer Sarah and I neared the crystalline water, the softer the sand got. It was a mattress, and the ever-warming waves were a blanket incessantly and nonchalantly draped across it. Waves tripping and bodies tumbling, we let the bellowing water have its way and knock us down like a set of delicate dominoes. Engulfed by the cozy waters, Sarah and I stayed at the beach for hours, but eventually, all good things must come to an end. We then reluctantly (and very slowly) left the place I love and miss most and headed on across to the condos.
When we got back, Sarah and I slipped on our long sundresses that draped lightly over our tanned bodies like curtains over glass windows. Sarah and I both loved the way they swayed in that warm Aruba breeze that always seemed to linger in the atmosphere.

Sarah’s family and I arrived at a fancy restaurant in downtown Oranjestad, Aruba. Choosing a table was an easy decision, as we all agreed to a table outside next to live music that filled our ears with mellifluous tones and lyrics. Our laughter and joyful voices seemed to match the music as both tunes swayed like the palm trees that surrounded us. I tried myriad exotic island foods and desserts. But in the midst of all of that craziness, I noticed Sarah’s parents get up from the table. Sarah’s father took his wife’s hand and spun her around like a ballerina. Feet spinning, mouths smiling, they danced endlessly, moving to the rhythm of the live music. They never once cared what anyone else thought of them; they were happy, and in that moment, that was all that mattered. Sarah’s brother Josh danced with the waitress as Sarah and I laughed, dancing like the two crazy best friends we were, completely at ease, lost in our own happiness. Josh then took my hand and asked me to dance, and we danced, that crazy, happy family and I, in this small Aruba restaurant.

But I couldn’t help but think about that moment when this would all end. That five hour plane ride home crept up on me like a lioness creeping on its prey before its victorious attack. I thought about all that Aruba air, the aroma, and how it would vanish and remain a distant memory. However, I realized there was no point in thinking about any moment that I wasn’t currently living, especially something sad. It was in that moment that I realized how important happiness is in my life. I cleared my pessimistic thoughts, and I left them behind with the scraps of food on my dinner plate, and we left that tiny, quaint restaurant, leaving all of that behind too.

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