When I graduated high school, I went on a senior trip with fellow students. It was a great trip, but I wasn’t friends with anyone. I felt like an outsider the entire time. The places we went to were so beautiful that I didn’t care about anything.
There' this moment in time that changed me. I'm not sure why it starts here, but it's one of those feelings you can’t explain. Sometimes you experience something so blissfully beautiful and unique you are changed forever.
I can’t describe what was going through my mind. All I can say is that I spent most of my school career in a deep depression. I was happy at times, but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking negative thoughts. Now, I look back and it’s like an out of body experience. The person I was before this trip is so different from the person who came back.
While I was on the trip, one of the first things we did was visit Cinque Terre. I can’t remember the first stop, but I remember being separated from our group. My group decided that we were going to hike up the hill to this small church instead of visiting the shops. The climb was steep and hot. We saw a house that was growing fresh lemons. I took tons of pictures, but this one is before my moment.
The cross is where I think I changed. You can’t see it, but there is a bench on the other side. It then drops off a steep cliff into the Mediterranean Sea. I walked to the edge and sat for a few minutes. The ocean sounds rushed through me. I felt such bliss. The feelings that ran through my mind were feelings I hadn’t felt in a long time. I felt peace.
For some reason, I looked to my right, and I saw a morning dove. I had been seeing them everywhere I went, including every European city I went to during the trip. The dove is supposed to be lucky and a sign of change. After a few moments to myself, I joined my friends at the top of this stone church. There was nothing inside. It was a place you could climb. Almost like an epic fort.
I felt happiness at that moment. I vowed to bring my family here. I wanted them to see the beauty that I saw. I promised myself I would come back to this place, and feel what I felt then. Even now, I can picture the scenery and hear the seagulls.
We left a few minutes later and caught up with our group. No one else tried to take the hike. It was a real shame. I’ll never forget the girl who was with me, and what she said. She had shared some intimate thoughts about a family member’s passing with me. She felt the same things I had felt while we were up there. This moment was life-changing. I didn’t share it, but it is something I will never forget.