• Madelynne Juenger

Everything's Brighter in Brighton

I have spent my past nineteen years of life continuously on the search for perfect places. So far I have found them in the minutes before the sun peeks up from behind the waves of the ocean. I have found them on a stage full of blinding lights and brightly colored dancers. I have found them on the edge of the water overlooking the outline of skyscrapers. And I have found them most recently in the city of Brighton.

Of course, perfect is a difficult word to use because it’s interpreted by different people in different ways. What may seem like the loveliest sunset in the world to me, might appear mediocre to the man standing ten feet away. But I fully believe it’s all about the mindset.

Obviously, nothing will ever be literally “perfect”, but the way we choose to look at something can change the entire picture. There will always be small cracks in the frame, however, we can view these as distracting annoyances or as a challenge to see the rainbows created in the broken glass.

My definition of a perfect place is one in which I simply feel content. Which, to be honest, is really not a simple feeling at all. It’s very rare that my brain ever stops talking. It is always buzzing and bumbling and thinking and thinking and thinking. Surely it won’t ever be completely silent (and I certainly don’t want it to be), but the times where I can slow it down enough to appreciate the moment that I’m in are the perfect ones.

This past weekend we took a trip down to Brighton, England and it was the happiest I have felt in such a long time. This might be an overstatement, but it very well could have been the happiest I’ve felt ever. However, there wasn’t anything exceptionally remarkable that happened. There were no big life events or holidays. It was simply a trip to the beach for two nights with seven other girls and one very cramped hostel room. But it felt perfect. It was as if someone had dumped sunshine on my brain and suddenly everything was in bright technicolor.

For once, I felt complete and utter bliss. There was a moment when I was sitting in the gardens across from the Brighton Pavilion sketching flowers with a man playing acoustic guitar across the path, and I knew there was absolutely nowhere else that I wanted to be. And there was nowhere else I felt like I needed to be. I didn’t feel misplaced or like I was taking up too much space. I didn’t feel hazy or unreal. I felt completely present and content. And it was perfect.

Of course, I’ve been overusing the cheesey phrase that “everything’s brighter in Brighton” and a small part of me was afraid that this statement might actually be true, because that would mean I’d lose this sunshine feeling as soon as I left. But then I realized that I was coming back to London and simply stepping from one dream into another. I definitely felt bright and happy in Brighton, but those were emotions I created myself. They weren’t handed to me specifically by the city with an expiration date set the same day as my train ticket out. They are feelings that I can draw back on whenever I find the next perfect place…and hopefully some slightly imperfect ones as well.

However, this is much easier said than done. It’s easy to acknowledge feelings when they’re staring you blatantly in the face. For example, sadness and anger tend to be a bit more upfront with their presence and are not afraid to make themselves known. They are loud and demanding and slight attention hogs if you ask me.

But happiness tends to be on the quieter side. Of course, there are moments when it’s also loud and colorful and you can feel your face beaming with love and excitement. But sometimes it slips in like a warm gust of wind through a slightly cracked window. It might not be extremely noticeable right away, but you still feel that slight sense of warmth. The problem is, it’s sometimes hard to pin down exactly where it came from and that’s why it’s sometimes hard to recreate happiness in the same way that we can easily grasp onto sadness and anger.

But again, brightness is a mentality. It’s not limited to perfect times or perfect places. So don’t wait for them. If we try hard enough, we can incorporate this feeling of brightness into any time we like.

It can show through in the way you add an extra sugar to your tea in the morning. Or when you catch your subway train at the exact moment it pulls up. It can show through in a day where the sky is perfectly blanketed in gray clouds, which gives you an excuse to mimic its actions and hide under blankets of you own. Brightness can be found in a favorite outfit or ice-cream on a hot day. It can be found in park outings and scenic taxi rides.

Though my life up until now has been a search for perfect places, I think the plan from here on out is to create the perfect places instead.



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