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The following entry was written by Gap Year Fellow MaryBeth Thomas.

Cicadas ring. A symphony of castanets. Music echoing through each and every crevice of night. Their song flourishes over individual brown and red brick, crossing over metal bars formed from a blacksmith’s careful touch, graciously anchoring one edifice to another, as if to protect the residents of Ram’s Village Apartments, entranced by strategic antics of volleyball, basketball, and tennis players prancing on the courts in the distance from toppling down onto the car swept asphalt below. The roadway is marked by a meticulous mason’s craft and a 25 mile sign for a cross walk. The words, Fire Lane repeatedly tattooed across the surface.

I shift my gaze to weathered branches of shrubbery, beaten down by the all too infamous humidity of Chapel Hill. Even my limbs have yet to adjust to this. Similar to the bushes hanging in the wind, I rest in the silence of night. I sit erect. In an old rocking chair sanded down by Father time. Careful not to allow myself to sink down into the cradle of woodwork, which would result in an eerie creak that would upstage the choir of cicadas, hinder my thoughts, and unlawfully serve as an infraction to the building’s 9 to 9 quite hour regulation.

In most cases, such careful energy utilized in honor of nature would seem ludicrous and unnecessary. Tonight is different.

Tonight is the night of July’s new moon, specifically known as the Buckeye. Rumors claim such a spectacle can cause deer’s antlers to bud and storms to rage in the wake of its splendor. Even now, the light radiating from the surface envelops the night with a gentle glow, making even the most rigid corners appear soft and untouched by time. Such beauty reminds me of how in the nights after the divorce of my parents, I found comfort in the thought of the moon as my compass rose: each direction in its regard, simply thorns stemming from the surface. No matter how far in relation to one destination, all eyes gaze into the same white of a night’s eye; with this as my focal point, I am secure.

I briefly glance to the path below filled with flashing car lights dancing in the nightlight with an ominous, yet, inspired sense of arrhythmia that echoes the tune of my heart, pulsating against my chest cavity and radiating through the tip of my pen as it kisses a new page in my leather bound journal.


Suddenly, a flash from within the rightmost portion of the skyline causes my eyes to leap for the source. In the distance I see variations of gray and black painting over the moon’s distant gleam. But, as if in reverence to the moon’s grace, bolts of lighting gently dance in a space, void of their usual thunderous applause.

As I process these images, I think of how the storm raging within the clouds outwardly reflects the rhythm of the lights and in turn, is a representation of the electricity coursing through my being. Often, thoughts flood my mind of the ethics of service and the dangers of good intentions. Will the children like me in Tanzania? Where will I go from there? How do I…The thoughts could go on and on, but they don’t. Because, on the surface, I appear as the moon standing tall in the western portion of my sky light. In spite of electricity, fears, and uncertainties, the prospect of how I could change in this year: how I can grow, become more adaptable, and articulate my ideas after this year, all with memories that will last a lifetime.

I think of the journey the six of us have taken to get to this point and how I am grateful to the Heavenly Father that led us here. The laughs, sunburns, sweat, 15 minute treks to the Campus Y, pranks. The ongoing intensity of a Words with Friends match with Klaus, violin music from Sophie, Russian medleys from Lauren, scavenging for a lost phone from a construction site, all the way through a graveyard and down to the IT desk with Thilini. Late nights with Anna, filled with discussion of Descartes’ Meditations and the intensity of a one-on-one volleyball match with rain trickling down our backs and lighting bouncing just beyond the sand. I reflect on these moments and smile. These are the thoughts that overshadow the storm inside.

I lift my head to the sky for a final glance and see the clouds receding into the distance, with only the moon in sight. Leaving behind the brilliance of excitement, optimism, and curiosity that encompass the guide to a life worth living whose key foundation is based on experiences. Even in the distance, gentle flashes of white light remind me that minor worry maintains sanity. That both joy and fear are invaluable characteristics of human nature and that out of both light and dark emerges the perfect storm.

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