To the Mountain

View from Wachusett MountainLast week, I “climbed” to the top of Wachusett Mountain with a college friend and recent New England transplant. Now, it is important when we say “climbed,” we parked at the state reservation and walked the rather short–but steep–incline to the summit.

If you have not been up to Wachusett Mountain (mountain top, not ski lodge), the view is rather impressive for the sheer fact that we don’t really experience expansive views in our daily lives. Or, at least I don’t in my drive to work, the grocery store and home.

Even though Wachusett is rather local, it had been years since I set foot on the rock top and saw Boston in the distance. To be honest, I’m not sure what kept me away. Maybe it was that rejection of being “home” again, but it only made me regret my former attitude. In the fall, I am sure that the foliage is amazing with Mount Monadnock in the distance.

With every step we took up the stone steps to the summit, I felt as if it was a step to reclaiming the New England I once knew. With each step and insightful conversation, I felt more purposeful. Our lives are too short to live in regret these decisions we make when we do not know where to go next.

It was a cool evening and I could feel fall creeping through the August air. What is more New England than autumn?

A Small Detour

New YorkWhen considering this post, I first thought that it might be a little early to detour from the original mission of this blog, but perhaps this isn’t a true detour.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two great college friends. The location of the wedding was just outside the city where we went to college, and although it had been nearly three years since I had visited this city or stepped foot on the college campus, I could not help but feel a strong sense of home and belonging in this small community.

Historically, this city  has often been a brief stop on a much longer journey. When the railroad ran through upstate New York, first rail workers and then travelers would stay briefly within the city. Now, as home to two colleges, the city brings a different type of transitory group-students.

I think my reunion with so many alums and the campus triggered this consideration. I loved being a college student. I excelled at academics and I was surrounded by like -minded people who were my age. I was living in the real-world without real world responsibilities. Since commencement, I have frequently found myself longing for the solace of my peers in a classroom discussing Milton’s great works or the quite of the library on a Saturday morning as I composed an essay on the ethics of women’s rights.

This reflection on a long-awaited visit encouraged me to consider identity. For a long time during my rather short life, I have identified as a student. Even as I work for a college, I am often mistaken for a student (I think it is the glasses). One of the most beautiful parts of the liberal arts college experience is that it leaves students wanting so much more when they commence with this portion of their educative experience.  Therefore, that period in my life as a college student, although transitory, encouraged an completely unimaginable transformation.

Now, I know that a transformation happened. I feel it in my being.  To tell you what I changed from and into–well, I’m still trying to figure that out. The important part is that it occurred and I’m left with this conclusion:

To identify as a college student is simple. The expectations are clear. It is an admirable occupation. To identify as a college graduate is much more complicated. The expectations are higher and, in some cases, unobtainable. Success is expected. Immediately. When success is expected, we feel inadequate because, by 25, we do not have a high paying career, we are not the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and we are struggling to find our place in the world.

Therefore, I guess, I have come to a rather long-winded understanding. I missed college because I knew what was expected. I have struggled for the last three years because I wanted to be someplace where I excelled. I moved back to my hometown and I had little to show for my dedication to the works of Austen and Hart.

But when we get held up in ideas of success, we miss out on what we experience now. We forget about the thank-you cards from students or the joy of renting our first apartment. And that I am 25-not only or already– I am 25 and need embrace this moment.

So, I suppose this wasn’t much a detour after all.

Welcome to “My Life as a New England Townie”

Welcome to my life as I live in and (re)discover central New England.

Three years ago, I decided that I wanted to record my experiences as I traveled around the United States. Well, to be honest, the reality of steady employment and student loans restricts my ability to do much travel. Therefore, I decided to start in my own backyard as I focused on what it means to be a New Englander. This is my journey.

I hope you find a little humor and a little insight into what it means to be twenty-something in twenty-first century New England.

Bench