My family never goes anywhere for the holidays. Summer break, Spring break, Christmas break we always stay home. My family is just me, my mom and dad, but I mean come on, I want to go somewhere. Ruby, my best friend, her family goes all over the place. It's because of her, that I am finally getting out of the city and the STATE to somewhere other than the beach. Which for us is only a few hours away from where we live.
Ruby has been my best friend ever since we met in Kindergarten. Her mom who happened to be my teacher and my mom became best friends as well, so our families see each other a lot. We also live in the same neighborhood so I can walk over to her house whenever I want.
Ruby comes up to me on our last day of school and asks if I have summer plans. "Hey is your family going anywhere for the summer?"
"You know we never go anywhere," I say annoyed. Ruby's family goes to a different place every year it feels like.
"Well...my mom and dad found out about this place in New Mexico, it's called Taos Ski Valley. It's supposed to be really pretty. I begged my mom if you could come and she told me to invite your whole family, isn't that awesome?" she asks.
What?!?! Her parents are always so nice to me and my family.
"YES! I wanna go right now!!! Let's go ask my parents," I say jumping up and down.
I burst through the front door with Ruby in tow, thankfully both my parents are home and in the living room. "Mom, Dad, The Mascorros invited us to go with them on their summer trip. Can we go please?!" I beg them. Jane and Rob, Mr. and Mrs. Mascorro are Ruby's parents and my parent's best friends. We do everything together. Birthdays, Christmas parties, you name it.
"Where are you going this year Ruby?" my mom asks nonchalantly. I'm seriously about to burst. I want to go on this trip so bad. My mother is going to kill me by not answering.
"Taos, New Mexico. My mom and dad found it somehow. My parents said I could invite y'all to come," she says politely knowing my mom loves manners.
"We will talk it over with your mom and dad, but I don't think that will be a problem," my dad says giving me a wink.
"Eek!" Ruby and I squeal as we jump up and down with excitement.
Finally! I can't wait to pack my bags.
- River -
Instead of our regular Christmas holiday this year, my family decided on a summer holiday to Taos Ski Valley. We have gone skiing every winter since my parent's friends told us about the place. I like the fact my parents let me do whatever I want while we are here. They get distracted by my sister half the time anyway.
We always stay at the Hotel Edelweiss, the finest place in the Ski Valley. Because we have gone every year the staff know us, they say, "Hi River" and give me snacks when my parents are not looking. Mum and Dad were not the type of people to hike. They are more likely to go shopping, to an art gallery, or go wine tasting. This summer they would be running about with my sister. They trust me enough to get around on my own. My Dad got me a cellphone, plenty of money for whatever I want and rented a mountain bike to get everywhere. Since my family has been visiting the Taos area for a long time, I have a lot freedom every time we visit.
We just checked in for our stay at the Edelweiss when I get the urge to look about. I love hiking and exploring. I also love photography. Last year I received a digital camera for my birthday. So, I grab my bag, camera, and wander around.
I first went looking at the shops before I stumble upon some other lodgings on the outskirts of the Valley. Everything looks so different in the summer. I know the place well enough after coming here for years. It's amazing how different it all looks without several feet of snow covering everything.
As I continue walking, I see a group of people unpacking their cars. The home they seem to be renting is called Edelweiss Chalet. It is a beautiful place sheltered in the trees with a creek running alongside.
One person stands out among the crowd, this young girl who looks close to my age. She has auburn hair which she put into two French braids. The girl looks, taking in the scenery. She sticks her hands into her overall pockets. Her overalls have bright buttons on the front, and she has the legs rolled up. Then she spots the creek running to it. Her group is too busy to notice she has wandered off. There is a path that runs beside the Chalet, so I follow the girl.
She has found a bench by the water where she leaves her boots. She makes her way down the rough bank of the creek then carefully touching her toes to the water, as if she were testing it out. I just watch her as she plunges her foot in the water. She is going to regret that; the water is cold even if it is summertime. I don't realize I laughed out loud as she screeches.
"Ah!" she exclaims as I startle her. She almost falls over further into the water. I quickly reach my arm out to steady her.
She leaps away from the water, looking back at me as she did. I try to help her up the bank, but she isn't having it.
"Who are you," she asks me with a wrinkled face. I can't tell if her face is because of me or the cold water she just got out of.
"Why are you here?" she asks further when I hesitate answer her first question fast enough. She is trying to wipe her feet off, warm them up before she puts her boots on.
"I'm River St. John, my family just arrived for the summer too."
"How do you know I just got here?" she asks accusingly.
I can feel myself getting flushed, but I blurt out anyway "Because I followed you."
I start walking off when she runs up and grabs my arm. "Hey, wait!" She hesitates then continues, "That's funny your name is River since we're here," as she points back to the creek.
I smile at her. I don't want to correct her especially since I just mortified myself in front of this complete stranger.
"Sorry...you scared me, plus, the water is COLD," she says, looking down at her boots.
"I'll forgive you as long as you give me your name," I say with a smile.
"My name is Elizabeth Houghton."
As we are talking, we have made our way back to the Chalet. All of Elizabeth's party is inside, but you can hear children running around giggling.
Right about that time her mother calls her. "Elizabeth it's time to come inside, we're going to the village to get some dinner."
"Okay. I'll be there in a minute," Elizabeth calls as she rolls her eyes.
"What is it," I ask as I'm curious why she rolled her eyes towards her mother.
"I really don't like my name. Sounds too much like an old lady name. I have never liked it but now I'm older I really don't like it. Everyone always tries to call me Lizzy or something like it, but I don't like any of it honestly," she states.
"In England there are many nicknames for Elizabeth. Hmmm... let me think." Just as I'm looking at her, trying to pick the perfect name for her a bird catches my eye. I remember my mum telling me about a girl in England named Birdie, her first name was Elizabeth too.
"What about Birdie?" I ask.
"Birdie, I like that," she says with a smile. Truly one of the cutest smiles I've seen.
After a long, almost awkward pause she finally breaks the silence.
"I guess I better get inside to help round up the children. We're here with my friend's family, they have a lot of kids. My friend Ruby and I usually handle them."
Just then, her stomach rumbles, "I'm starving" Elizabeth knocks her boots together.
"It's my dad, my mom and me plus Ruby, her parents and her three siblings," she explains pointing back at the Chalet.
"Elizabeth, come on! The natives are getting restless," Elizabeth's mom calls for again.
"Okay, I'm coming," Elizabeth shouts back. Then, she sticks out her hand and says, "It was nice to meet you, River.
She shakes my hand then runs off laughing. I stand there for a solid minute staring after her.
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