Hannah is not your typical eighteen year old. She is a quiet, humble, teen with beautiful, long, auburn red hair, hazel eyes, and has a slim body shape. Rarely does she wear makeup as she says it is just too expensive. Furthermore, she likes what she calls the “natural look”. She is popular among her friends, yet does not use that to her advantage.
She attends Beaver Ridge Collegiate nestled in the Rocky Mountains. She has a few months of grade twelve left before she starts her post high school life. If you were to meet Hannah, you would likely describe her as a quiet, easy-going, and collected young lady. But on the inside, Hannah’s life was in turmoil.
You see, Hannah lives with her Mom and Stepfather, Steven, in Rocky View, a small town of about 1600 people in the Rocky Mountains. She loves the mountains. Hannah loves being in nature, hiking among the wildlife, and breathing in the fresh air. She says, “There is nothing like that feeling on a mountain top”. But Hannah understands that she needs to move on. She knows in order to achieve her dream of being an outdoor education teacher; she needs to go to the city to attend university. Her Dad lives there, so living with Dad would be an option.
Then there is her boyfriend, Josh. Hannah has been with Josh for a year and a half. Josh loves the outdoors just as much as she does. They both love spending time together hiking in the mountains. What more could a girl ask for in a guy? But, how will he react? Will he support her going off to the big city for four years? Josh plans to never leave Rocky View as he works alongside his dad in the local plumbing business. Should she stay in Rocky View? She could easily get a job in the local Lodge as a guide for tourists. She would be outdoors which is what she wants. She would be teaching tourists about nature.
Hannah likes to spend time in her room. It was a Saturday afternoon and Hannah was lying on her bed pondering what life would be like away from her beloved mountain community. Could she handle living in a large city? She could handle living with her father, but could she handle living with her Dad’s new girlfriend, Jill? Jill could be kind of “anal”. She kept the house spotless and everything had to be in its place. Hannah was not like that. Her mom often got on her case to clean her room. Would Jill be a problem? Could she handle living under the same roof as Jill?
There is a knock on the door. Hannah hollers, “Come in”. Josh walks into her room. Hannah’s stomach is immediately in knots. She felt sick to her stomach.
“What’s up?” Josh asks. “You look as white as a ghost. Are you feeling ok?”
“I have something to discuss with you.” Hannah says quietly.
“What now? I suppose you want me to attend one of those stupid drama productions you are in at school? You know how I hate that!”
“No”, Hannah says, barely audible. “I’m moving to the city to attend University.”
“Don’t be stupid. University is a waste of money. Nobody with a degree, these days, gets jobs!” Josh blurts out. “Your place is here in Rocky View with me. Besides, you can never stop exploring these mountains! You love the mountains!”
Hannah begins to cry. This is not at all how she intended this conversation to go. Josh doesn’t even notice her tears. He pipes up, “Well, that’s settled. Glad we had this talk. Obviously, I needed to talk some sense into you.”
Hannah cries even harder now. “I am so confused!” She screams and runs out of the room. Josh stands there speechless. “I’ll never understand girls.” he retorts. He then leaves the room.
Hannah’s mother, April, is standing in the kitchen preparing a snack when she heard Hannah scream and run out of the house. “What is going on?” she wonders. Josh walks by her and out the door. “I’ve never liked that boy” April says to her self. “Hannah could do better!”
A few minutes go by, and Hannah returns to the house. April, her mom, is waiting in the living room. April just knew that Hannah needed some motherly advice.
“Hannah”, her mother yells. “Can you come into the living room please?”
“Sure Mom” replies Hannah. After what felt like several minutes, Hannah walks into the room. April could tell that her daughter had been crying.
“So, what is going on, Hannah?” her mother asks. “Is something wrong between you and Josh?”
“I’ve decided to break up with him,” Hannah whispers. April is thrilled, although she controls herself as not to reveal her true feelings about Josh.
“Oh. I’m so sorry. Why is that?” April asks.
“Because he is a selfish jerk. He doesn’t care about my needs or my feelings whatsoever. All he cares about is himself,” replies Hannah.
“He sounds like a typical guy, to me.” Hannah’s mother responds.
“Oh Mom! Not all guys are selfish. Look at Dad! He is not selfish at all. He wants me to come and live with him while attending university. He wants to share his life with me. He even said he would pay for my education. I’ll never understand why you left him for Steven. Dad is a great guy,” Hannah vents.
“Okay, Hannah. This is not about me and your dad. What is this really about?” April sternly retorts. Hannah immediately starts to cry.
“It’s Josh. He doesn’t want me to go off to university. He says university is a waste of time. I’ve been with him for over a year now. We do everything together,” Hannah cries.
“So you don’t want to leave Josh?” April calmly says.
“I don’t know. Life is so hard. What if I don’t find another guy like him?
“Hannah, you are still young. You have your whole life ahead of you. There are lots of great guys out there who would love to get to know you. I don’t think you need to worry about that,” her mom councils. “Is there more to this?”
“I want to go to university but I love living here in the mountains. I don’t want to leave Rocky View. I love this town,” Hannah says with tears streaming down into her mouth.
“You’re not leaving it forever. I know your dream is to be an outdoor Ed. Teacher. You will not be happy otherwise. The outdoors is a part of you. Teaching children is what you need to be doing. I see that whenever you are around them. Don’t give up on your dream just because you don’t want to leave home. All young people have a hard time leaving home. That is a normal part of growing up,” April empathetically says.
Days turn to weeks, and weeks turn to months and before you know it, it is Hannah’s graduation day. She is this year’s valedictorian. Hannah spoke from her heart as she gave her speech.
“Fellow graduates, parents and dignitaries. One thing I’ve realized that no matter where I go, Beaver Ridge Collegiate will always be a part of me and I will always be a Rocky View citizen. This school and this community have made me who I am today. Don’t settle in life! Follow your dreams. So I say my friends, Carpe diem. Seize the day!” And that is what Hannah intended to do.
At summer’s end, she will be off to attend university. Her dad has reluctantly agreed to let her stay in a dormitory, as having Hannah live with him would be his first choice. But, Hannah knows she has made the right choice.
Hannah stood in her room with tears streaming down her cheeks. It all seemed so surreal. This would be the last time she would sleep in her comfy bed with the quilt that her grandmother made for her on her sixteenth birthday. She could still smell the lingering floral smell from the scented candle she lit last night.
“Hannah! Let’s go,” her stepfather yells. “You’ll miss your ride to the city.”
Hannah slowly exits the room and heads for the door. “Goodbye house,” she whispers to herself. As she steps outside, that fresh mountain air stops Hannah in her tracks.
“How can I leave all this behind?” She thinks. The majestic Rockies stood in front of her. The sound of the wind blowing through the pine trees sounded magnificent. She barely noticed the two elk in the distance.
“Wow! This is beautiful,” she says, as she takes a whiff of the scent of the pine trees. This would be the last time Hannah would take in that scent for a while. She was about to embark on a new journey. She was going to be an outdoor Ed teacher.