I want to orbit this Earth and, as I do, I want waves of understanding to wash over me like a pebble and smooth my rough edges over and over until I become a sphere so I can become well – rounded like the world is, orbiting the sun.
A confused version of this ambition struck me in a surge of awe that made my jaw drop and opened my puffy, jetlagged eyes on a simple bus ride to The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver where my family and I would be staying the night before departing on the Disney Wonder on an Alaskan cruise.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
I had been to Boston, L.A., New York; many of the amazing cities that people travel from all over the world to visit and I had never seen anything that compared to the huge chrome castle that was unraveling outside my bus window. I marveled at Vancouver’s cleanliness, its people, and the miles of developing skyscrapers that followed its miles of finished ones – redefining the term: “city-scape”. By the end of the bus ride I was convinced that Vancouver was actually Atlantis, and that all of its diverse residents had pulled it out of the waters of British Colombia and never told anybody.
The next morning I was (impossibly) already on the Disney Wonder. Vancouver’s Stanley Park had faded away in our wake, and rumors of our first destination, Tracy Arm Fjord, began to materialize in massive mountainous islands that were blanketed in lush green pine trees, the beginning of the endless Tongass National Forest.
On the second day at sea when we arrived at Tracy Arm Fjord; we had already seen many dolphins (orcas!) and whales surfacing along the sides of the ship. While we were eating breakfast, my mom and I heard frantic gasps and saw pointing from those passengers standing near the railings of the ship.
Thinking it was another whale, we hurried to the railing and I saw the most impressionable scenery of my life: the first bit of water out of the whole blackish ocean surrounding Alaska that the locals call “glacier blue”. It was the most achingly blue color I had ever seen, pure and beautiful, spreading away from the mountain and mixing in the wake of our boat.
How I felt when I first saw that shockingly glacier blue water speckled with the white- topped icebergs with their lightning blue undersides was: small.
The feeling was not indescribable or inexpressible, but so powerfully simple, I could feel the chemical reactions in my brain frantically struggling to keep up with the everlasting epiphany brought on by the catalytic, raw planet. I felt small and the world felt incredibly huge.
There was a native scientist onboard who then announced that the underside of the iceberg melting into the ocean was what made the surrounding water ‘glacier’ blue. Every Iceberg became a metaphor for my existence; as the scientist went on to explain that we can only see about 10% of an iceberg – the other 90% continues beneath the surface of the mysterious, icy water.
I realized that I had only seen a small percentage of the world, and the rest of the world was as vast and beautiful as the bright underside of an iceberg, the part which turned the water glacier blue.
I love beginnings, and that is what this trip was: a beginning. Every experience I had made me love the Earth with a new passion. And with that passion, I promised to travel, marvel, and revel until I reached the other end of the iceberg.