Home is Where the Heart is
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Home is Where the Heart is

A story about the places and the people that I call "home".

Home is Where the Heart is

To me, a home doesn't always have to be a house or the place I live in. To me, home is a cheerful place, with a person or group of people, that makes me feel loved and cared for. A place where friends and family can gather to laugh, learn, and just live. It's a place of comfort, somewhere I feel safe and respected. And home is a place where the best memories are made. Let me tell you a story:

Tension is rising in the Emmaus High School Natatorium. Thousands of friends and families are huddled together on the bleachers, observing the events occurring below in the eight-lane swimming pool. It's about 90 degrees, fans sweating, swimmers freezing as they leave the pool and run to grab their towels, loud hum of cheering and talking that carries throughout the area. Hundreds of swimmers and coaches are on the pool deck, designated to their certain section. Towels are littered on benches, swim caps and goggles scattered everywhere, and suits stuffed into swim bags. We are all gathered here for the same purpose, District Championships. There are twelve teams present for the largest meet of the year, and I am on one of those teams. I am a part of the Southern Lehigh Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, and this year, we hope to collect our 7th District title in a row.

My team and I have just gotten pumped up to some Pitch Perfect songs in the girls' locker room and walk out in our jackets and our collection of Crocs, the absolute best shoe to wear on the pool deck. We meet our boys' team at our team's section of the pool deck, and we start to throw our caps and goggles on and prepare to dive into the pool to start our warm-ups. There was an issue, however, swimmers are so tightly packed into the pool that it is so difficult to even get into the pool without getting in someone's way. Imagine a line of traffic in New York City, how there are a multitude of cars trying to go to their desired destination but are moving very slowly, or not moving at all. That's what the pool looks like as we try to get in for warm-ups, about 30-40 swimmers per lane, with only 8 lanes to choose from. It is a nightmare. We finally get in and finish our laps, do our cheers, and prepare for our events ahead. I am swimming the 200 Medley Relay, the 200 Individual Medley, and the 100 Breaststroke. I have never been this nervous in my life. Thousands of people are watching me, and I really want a record time, as well as get some points for my team.

The 200 Medley Relay is the first event of the meet, so at least I can get that one out of the way. We walk over to the blocks, place our hands over our hearts for the National Anthem, adjust our caps and goggles, and stretch out our muscles before the event. Backstroke goes first, then breaststroke, which is me, and then butterfly and freestyle.

"Swimmers: hop in. Take your mark. BEEP."

We pull ahead in backstroke, and I dive in swim my two laps, the other teams closing in, but with our butterfly and freestyle, we place first in our heat, out of 3 heats. We have a pretty strong relay team, so it's no surprise that we would come in third out of 24 relay teams.

My 200 IM is shortly after, and I swim everything perfectly, even dropping 2 seconds for my new personal best, placing seventh in the event, but the official's hand is up for disqualification. Of my lane? That can't be. I talked to my coach and neither of us thought that I had left the block early or made any technical errors with my strokes. But, nonetheless, I was disqualified and lost those points for my team. It would later be discovered that it was actually the person next to me that was disqualified, but the officials confused our names, so I really came in 6th place. My team continues to have more disqualifications in our events: in the current time we have three disqualifications in the 7 events at this point, and we placed fairly well, so we are already down on points. Hopefully, we can keep outplacing the other teams and get those points back.

As the meet progresses, we are still trying to catch up on our points from those disqualifications, which really hurt us. I swim my last event of the meet, the 100 Breaststroke which is the second to last overall event, and we are so close on points. I come in eleventh, which doesn't give us enough points for us to secure first place. Basically, the last event is the 400 Freestyle Relay, and we need to place first or we will not get claim our seventh title. Tension is up, the pressure is high.

The 400 freestyle relay team walks over to the blocks, after much encouragement and motivation from my team. The first swimmer gets on the blocks.

"Swimmers: step up. Take your mark. BEEP."

The first swimmer is off. She goes into the first turn in line with everyone else and pushes off the wall in front! Great turn. Then comes the second and third turns, we are pulling away now, maybe half a length in front of the second team. I look over and my fellow teammates are screaming as loud as they can, making motions with our hands to keep kicking hard and to stay fast and strong. The second and third swimmers pull even farther in front, we are probably 2 body lengths in front of second-place now. WOOHOO! The fourth swimmer and anchor dive in and starts swimming, and we all pretty much know we won the meet at this point. All of my teammates start hugging each other, some crying, all excited to claim and defend our title as District Champions for the seventh year in a row. The fourth swimmer finishes, a whole half-length of the pool in front of second place! WE WON! The relay team waits until the rest of the teams finish the race, and then head over to our bench as we all start crying and hugging each other. We are so happy.

So, what do we do now? Well, you know how after winning the Super Bowl, the winning quarterback says that he is going to Disneyland? We don't have a Disneyland, but we have something that means just as much, the Coopersburg Diner.

The Coopersburg Diner, or the "Coop D" or "The Coop" as we call it, is less than a mile from our high school, and needless to say, it is the best diner in the area, and we probably have sixty or some diners in my county. But it is more than just a restaurant. It's home.

The Coop is a medium-sized establishment, with not nearly enough spots to park in during their busier hours. There are two front doors with a lobby area and some benches for seating, and they take your name at the front desk to seat you. As you walk past the desk, there is a counter with seating, which is where the bakery is located and where the doors to the kitchen are located. On the right, there are numerous booths and tables to sit and eat your food at. On the left, there are a few tables, and a hallway to walk down that opens up into a larger room. The salad bar is located in this hallway, and tons of booths and table are located in the back room. They have large round tables to seat groups of 6 or more, or they can push a few of those tables to fit more people if you call ahead. That's what they will be doing for our swim team that is about to come in.

It is family owned and operated, and all of the employees care about their customers and the food that they serve, sometimes they even recognize me as I am a regular customer. Friends, families, teammates, you name it; they all have gathered here on some occasion or another. Some of my best memories are created here or involve this diner in some way. I celebrated both of my softball Colonial League Championship wins here, as well as friend's birthdays, family gatherings, and more. And now I am about to add to that list, celebrating my newest championship win with my swim team.

We walk in and are congratulated by all of the employees and people surrounding us, some cheering and clapping, and others coming up and giving us high-fives. The forty of us are seated at round tables that are pushed together, in the center of the room. All of us are wearing our swim jackets and our winter hats to cover our wet hair, so that's how everyone knows who we are. We all order our food, the majority of us ordering breakfast food since it is served all day and arguably the best food to order here; I mean who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? The other few of us order larger burgers or sandwiches; swim season is over, so what's the point in continuing to eat healthy foods?

I order my all-time favorite meal: the Super Loco, which is basically everything you can imagine thrown into an omelet: ham, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and American cheese to top it off. I order a side of extra crispy bacon to go with it and a large orange juice. Our food comes out quickly, despite there be a large number of orders, and it is hot and fresh.

We all reminiscence on our day and how we had all worked together as a team to get the job done, to win another District Champions title for the seventh year in a row. And we also talk about how important this diner is to us. We would come to this diner after every swim meet that we won, every Saturday morning practice, and some mornings after weightlifting before school. This was a place where we all bonded, enjoyed good food, and felt like we were connected as a team.

And to me, although it may sound silly, The Coopersburg Diner is what makes me feel most at home.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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