September 1, 2005

Returning Home To the Adirondacks

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Halfway through the summer, my quarter-life crisis hit – hard. That so-called educational internship that was supposed to help me along the all-important career path was the most frustrating and pointless job I’d ever had, the humidity in Ithaca made me perpetually sweaty and irritable, my friends were in Boston or other “so much fun!” places, and junior year was just around the corner – how did college get to be halfway done so fast?! So, forget two weeks notice. On Thursday I told my boss I was done. Friday, I threw a bag stuffed with clothes and any leftover groceries in my car and raced home to the Adirondacks. The what? Adirondacks – that’s real Upstate New York. Get out your map, put one finger on Montreal and the other on Albany, and draw them together. Where they meet up halfway is where I call home. And for all of you that think Ithaca is the middle of nowhere, let me enlighten you. Keene – New York, not New Hampshire – is a small town of less than 1,000 people, also known as the Home of the High Peaks. High peaks meaning mountains, rivers, and lakes everywhere. Twenty minutes to the nearest movie theater, 40 minutes to the closest mall. It’s a town where people will call up your mom at work because they saw you driving by, eating a muffin behind the wheel! And, since neighborhood watch knows all about your abysmal driving record, this considerate citizen just wanted to express their concern that you weren’t 100 percent focused on the task at hand. True story. Maybe running home to get out of a miserable job isn’t considered the most adult thing to do – and since I’m 20 whole years old, I’m closing in on “official” adult status. And I’m guessing that not many people around here would choose a small town in the boondocks for refuge – a place where, if you have the drunken munchies after the Noonmark Diner closes at 10 o’clock, you’re making your own late night snack. But for me, this was the most mature decision I’ve made yet. Besides having family, friends, and a job that didn’t make me want to call in sick every day, I was back in the middle of the greatest playground on earth. Where else can parents turn their kids – or twenty-something almost-adults – loose on the local golf course every Monday night for the most outrageous and competitive game of Capture the Flag ever known to man? If you thought this was not a contact sport, think again. I’ve seen far worse than grass stains or bruises – I’m talking broken noses and cracked femurs, to name a couple – but nothing some homemade pie from the aforementioned-Noonmark couldn’t cure. Or how about six million acres of wilderness and a couple thousand lakes and rivers to fool around in? I did Gothics Mountain this summer, 14 miles round-trip, a couple thousand feet in elevation up and down. And in the pouring rain – and by pouring, I mean that at one point my friend stopped in confusion and asked, “Which river is the trail?” Go swimming at the swimming hole underneath the site of the old covered bridge in Jay, a nearby town, which was in Sports Illustrated last year as one of the top-10 natural swimming holes in the country. Summer tradition is to go to the August picnic held at the boathouse on the Lower AuSable Lake, cradled between the sheer rock slides of Gothics and the craggy face of Indianhead. All kinds of fun – boys vs. girls in the “greased watermelon” race, where you try and sneak a Crisco-coated melon underwater to the opposite end of the dock. Two bits of trivia: the girls always win when I play, and greased watermelon plus vodka makes for a good time later on. Wash off the grease later in the swamped canoe – with as many people as you can fit, take it out 30 feet, tip it over, and doggy-paddle it back in to the beach. Wait – didn’t I say this was a mature decision? Sounds like a whole lot of goofing around. Well, I realized that’s the hardest part of growing up is keeping a hold on the fun in life. It can be easy to do at Camp Cornell, where you’re surrounded by other kids and the opportunities for foolishness are endless. But as the semester goes on and we get deeper into the same old thing – papers, prelims, and parties – summer and its careless youth fade away. And before you know it, graduation’s come and gone and that 9-to-5 routine is waiting for you. So, hopefully my lessons from the summer school of quasi-real life will stick with me, and I’ll learn how to find moments for that childhood freedom no matter how old and grown-up I get.

Olivia Dwyer is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. Forever Wild will appear every other Thursday this semester.

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor