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The next hill

Elyce Burzlaff

"Mountain Breeze"

Dexter Westbay

If only I could feel this forever: my hands up in the air as if I were on a roller coaster, butterflies floating up my stomach like a bobber in a pond, flying down the hill, free and weightless.

As a child, I can remember my siblings and me begging my mom to let us go “the long way” to the grocery store. That way we could go up a big hill that had a steep drop at the top. I anticipated butterflies in my stomach and would be bursting with excitement.

I don’t get that anymore, the butterflies. I go as fast as I can and I still can’t find that feeling I had when I was younger. I miss it—that funny feeling when your blood pressure slows and your muscles tighten. Now that I’m older and more logical, I know that I’m not on a rollercoaster. I’m in a car, going down a gravel hill that I have been on many times. I want to go back to the time when I didn’t think as much. I want to go back.

Going camping, we rode our bikes a quarter mile to get to “the hill,” the biggest hill that we ever rode our bikes on. Sitting at the top, watching the older kids go down with ease, my stomach turned. My hands slipped off the handlebars because I was sweating from nervousness. I only thought about that one little rock I might hit which would cause me to walk my bike back up with a scraped knee and elbow. The excitement outweighed the worry, however, so I pushed off and started down the hill. 

First, my teeth clenched, then my muscles tightened as my feet pedaled with no resistance. My feet eventually fell off the pedals completely as I floated down the hill. I felt so free that I would lift my hands off the bar if I still had my training wheels on to catch me. My hair flew in a million directions and bugs flew in my eyes and mouth. But none of that mattered because I was flying. When I made it to the bottom, it was time to pedal again, so I could make it up the next hill.

I don’t ride down that hill much anymore. The what if’s get into my head. What if I fall, or drift onto the pond? What if I can’t make it back up the hill? Like life, I feel that the hill has gotten bigger and steeper. When I go down I worry about many things, and when I go back up the hill, it is harder and makes me want to quit earlier. I want to go back to when the hill was small and easy. When my biggest fear in life was getting bugs in my eyes. I want to go back.

Our house is on the top of a hill. That means that I have 24-7 access to an amazing rolling or sledding hill. There’s even a spot in our landscaping where no plants can grow because that’s the spot we would start our sleds and see who could go the furthest. We raced down that hill till our faces were blue and then went down one more time for good measure. We went inside to some hot chocolate made of ninety percent marshmallows. If we couldn’t sled, then we could roll. Many shirts and pants lost their lives because of that hill.

That hill used to mean everything to me. Now, it doesn’t mean much. I don’t sled; I don’t roll. Instead, I look at that hill wishing I was back in time to when I had fun every day, back when I didn’t take everything so seriously. I want to go back.

On a hill, you can’t see what is on the other side until you get there. It is easy to get scared and want to go back to where you were comfortable. It’s easy to reminisce on the past instead of looking to the future. We would rather do the same thing over and over than try something new. Although we might want to go back to when things were simpler, we can’t. We have to look forward and get ready for the next hill. 

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