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The last time I was here I was 22, and it was August. My stint at PAIS was my first time in Texas, and I never thought I’d end up living in the Lone Star State. I had an Ohio drivers license but didn’t know then that I would never live there again. I had a flip phone with an antenna, and I could only get a reliable signal at the top of these stairs, at night. Now I’m writing a blog post on the beach. I slept on an olive green army cot in a room with four other people (two on cots, two on sleeping bags inside the block U made by our bed frames). I read Harry Potter for the first time. I was a holdout and got a copy of the first book on a care package, thanks Elizabeth, and read all of the ones that were out. I bought them in paperback in an actual physical store. I don’t remember checking my email, but it must have happened during my eight-week stint. We probably used park employee computers whenever we could sneak in a few minutes of down time while inside a building in the presence of a kind person with a desk. I assisted on a necropsy of a sea turtle, and we saw Kemp’s Ridley hatchlings take their first paddling steps into the Gulf. We picked up trash, sang songs, got very tan, camped, sang around a bonfire, drank beer, smoked cigarettes, two stepped with locals, flirted with the boys from the Naval base, sent carefully crafted letters to our significant others, listened to the waves, had passionate, earnest conversations, argued, supported each other, and were really damn lucky.

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