We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. -Lynn Hall

(posted by Venus)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a place far, far away (A five hour drive is pretty far, isn’t it?) there was a little vacation village by the name of Tulameen. And a very beautiful village it was. People drove in from all around the province to spend their time off at the cabins by the lake. There was a annual parade for these vacationers during the week of “Tulameen Days.” Motorboats growl on the lake towing waterskiers or tubers behind. The song of a child’s laughter floats along with the breeze.

And then it was invaded by a creature some call the “teenager.” As soon as darkness fell, they came in droves with keys to their parents’ cabins or just tents. They pitched camp in backyards, in the woods or on the beach. Wherever they was room. The locals are used to their strange behaviour. Loud, unfamiliar melodies drifted from the cabins and tents, the roads were full with pedestrians feeding off beer and chain smoking. In Tulameen, this was just a part of life. Some ended their day and went to sleep, awakening to the bright sunshine the next day.

But for that strange race, the day had just begun.

I was one of them, somewhat of a leader. My Tulameen was a town of darkness, friendship and community. Never have I seen so many cliques of people my age get along so wonderfully. In a life dictated by rules imposed by all the major players in our lives, this was our one taste of freedom. And it was sweet.

The town was ours. Wander to the lake and someone will be out swimming, possibly skinny dipping. Throughout the woods people were scattered, if you were lucky, you could find a game of “Capture the Flag” in progress. It was always fun to move the flags and mess up the game. It’s a given that there will be more than a few couples making noises in the tents. We had it all. Travel back to our cabin for another drink and people packed wall to wall. Someone was always wondering where their pillow went. Someone was always sick in the bathroom. And another unlucky stranger had been talked into taking shots of my friend’s dad’s moonshine. Good times, good times.

But then one day something strange happened. Everyone fell asleep. I was walking back to the cabin and stopped to light a cigarette. Wait. Something was very odd. I can’t hear any voices. Pushing open the cabin door, I froze. It was like being in an amusement park funhouse, but it was deserted. Quiet and desolate. Every little sound echoed causing somewhat of a microphonic effect. I found myself alone, my friends sleeping to restore their exhausted souls. What had happened?

I went to the bathroom and locked the door. There wasn’t even anyone crashed in the bathtub. This is like a twilight zone. At this moment in time, I felt lonelier than I ever had in my entire life. I wash my hands and glance in the mirror. Wait, who was that? Me, of course. But something’s different. The tears in my eyes turn them into a piercing green. I watched the tears trickle down my face and drop into the sink. I see something. I see something in my eyes I haven’t ever seen before. Immediately, I feel comforted yet continue to watch that girl in the reflection cry. I see her looking at me, deep into my eyes as I stare into hers. Nice to meet you, I think.

I awaken the next morning with a sore neck because I didn’t have a pillow. Where did it go? I look around at my friends. Talking, laughing, complaining about hangovers and I suddenly feel like I don’t belong. I never really did belong. For the first time in my life, I felt like I knew myself. I needed to get out of here.

That day I caught a ride with friends and slept the whole way home. I found out later that they watched my go, saying “That was the last time we’ll ever see her.” And it was true.

I am still friends with most, but that was the last time they ever saw that naive and careless girl with tears in her eyes. And they do still go to Tulameen. They take their children swimming in the lake and help them build a sandcastle. They go to the General Store (Restaurant / Gas Station / Drugstore / Grocery store) for breakfast and complain about the grumpy, scary looking teenagers with the bags under their eyes who look like they’ve been up all night. Where are their parents, anyway?

To this day I have never been back.

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