A couple months ago, my mom, my little brother, and I drove down to Manhattan Beach, one of our favorite places to go surfing. That morning, we had checked the surf report and it had said, "2-3 feet" and "good conditions". The three of us were excited and ready to get in the water. We strapped our surfboards on top of the car, put on our wetsuits, and drove off. When we got there, the waves looked bigger than the report had said so we check again and this time it said, "5-6 feet". I was excited to jump into the cold water and paddle out to the bigger waves. My mom relaxed on the shore for a little while and told my brother and me to go ahead. I was having a great time surfing, when all the sudden I heard my little brother calling my name. I scanned the water and couldn't spot him until he called my name again. This time I looked closer and realized that he was caught in a riptide and had forgotten to leash his board, therefore leaving him without a flotation device. I quickly looked back to the shore and saw my mom starting to realize what was happening. My brother was now panicking and forgot that he was supposed to swim parallel to the shore in order to get out of it. I paddled into the riptide and picked him up and placed him on my board. I unleashed myself from the board and attached my brother to it instead. I paddled the board parallel to the shore and got us out of the riptide as fast as I could. As I was getting ready to push him into a wave so that he would end up safely back at shore, I saw the lifeguard entering the water. When the lifeguard quickly swam up to us, I pushed my brother to him and watched until he arrived safely to the shore, and then I continued surfing. It makes me happy to think about this day, only because the fact that my brother relies on me to save him, fills me with joy.
The day 9/11 tragically occurred, I was only five months old. Of course I don't remember the day itself or the worry and sorrow that came with receiving the news, but I can imagine how much pain everyone was in that week. That week had been very difficult for my family. My grandmother on my father's side had passed away on the eighth. We were in Texas for her funeral, and everyone was heartbroken, especially my dad. A few days earlier, my sister, who was two years old at the time, was attacked by my aunt's dog. I was only a baby, but I've heard all the gruesome stories of how the dog attacked my sister. She didn't know any better but to grab the dog's tail, and it immediately turned around and bit her face. They rushed her to the hospital running every red light, and she had twenty-four stitches put in her face. My grandmother's funeral occurred on a Wednesday, and 9/11 occurred on a Tuesday. Many of our relatives had their flight booked for that Tuesday only, when the news broke out that at 8:46 Flight 11 had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and then at 9:06, Flight 175 had gone into the South Tower; our relatives didn't board any planes. This news was hardest on my mom, as she had grown up in New York City and had many close friends that died in the attack. She had so many of her birthdays at the restaurant Windows On The World, but as it crumbled down into ash on the news, she knew she wouldn't have that opportunity again. Everyone watched in horror as the magnificent World Trade Center bursted into flames, and eventually we watched as figures started flying from high stories on the towers. My dad had a friend from work that was on Flight 11 going from Boston back to Los Angeles. He had a wife and an eight-year-old daughter named Zoey. After he died, my dad's company donated an amount of money to her and her mother. To this day they still get updates about Zoey and how she is doing. On September Eleventh, 2001, about three thousand innocent people died. We still remember all these people today, but I am just so thankful that my family and I remained safe on this day.
My three-year-old cousin Riley is one of my favorite people in the world. So are her parents, Nick and Melissa, and one-year-old brother Hudson. They are as special to me as my own parents and siblings. Riley's dad is my mom's cousin, but really she feels like my little sister. Riley has golden blonde hair that falls in perfect little curls and beautiful bright green little eyes. She is only three years old but always acts like she is older than me. She is one of the bravest and boldest people I know, even though she is only three years old. She never fails to make me laugh because she is always showing off her personality wherever she is. Riley and I have more or less always been the closest out of all our siblings. When she was just a baby, I couldn't touch her without her throwing a fit, but by the time she was about one year old, we were best friends. The first time I met Riley she was asleep in her mom's arms, and they let us wake her up just so we could play with her. I remember taking her with me into the playroom and playing with the toy kitchen we used to own until she fell asleep again. Every time I go to Florida to see Riley and her family or they all come to California, my relationship grows deeper and deeper. One of my favorite memories with Riley is when I went to Florida by myself for the first time when I was eleven, and we all went to the beach. Riley and I buried her infant brother in the sand and built sand castles together. Even though it was Florida the water was a bit too cold to swim in, and the dark and gloomy rainclouds were slowly making their way towards the beach. My other favorite memory is when Riley and her family were visiting California, and we went out for smoothies. There was a quiet song playing in the shop and Riley started singing and dancing along to it in front of all the customers. The man working the cash register smiled and turned the music up loud, and Riley performed for everybody. Lastly, my other favorite memory with Riley is the time her parents went out to lunch in Florida, and I stayed home to babysit Riley and Hudson. I had just put Hudson down for a nap so Riley took me into my room and started jumping on the bed. She laughed so hard every time she fell down it was like she was being tickled to death. Riley's parents are also very special because they are like second parents to me. They also raised Riley to be as happy and outgoing as she is. Riley's dad Nick is a firefighter, so he gets long periods of time off for vacation. I get to see Riley at least about four times per year for a couple of weeks when either they all come here or I, by myself, go to Florida. These weeks make me so happy just to spend time with Nick, Melissa, Riley and Hudson.
Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved the egg hunts and the bright pastel colors filling the house with happiness. Last year for Easter my family and I went to Hawaii. This was a little discouraging because every other year we had spent Easter in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we had our beautiful house. We had only sold the house a few months prior to Easter, but so far Hawaii had been a lot of fun. We had gone for boat rides, snorkeling, surfing, and our hotel even had a water slide, but when Easter came, my siblings and I participated in the hotel's egg-hunt. There were many kids that were younger than we were, and they all got to the eggs before we did. We didn't really mind because Hawaii had been a great experience, and we had already enjoyed many Easter egg hunts before this year. When we were walking back to our hotel room, we saw our parents waiting in the courtyard of the hotel. When we reached the courtyard, our parents handed us Easter baskets, and we immediately noticed the many brightly colored eggs scattered and hidden around the courtyard. This Easter made me very happy because even though at first we didn't get an Easter egg hunt, our parents made sure that we were happy in the end.