Paths Diverging/The Important Places
College for me has been a road of entwinement, a web of connections that have put me where I am now. Isn’t it strange how certain decisions lead you one way while others can lead you to a completely different conclusion? My experiences at college have made me the person I am and brought me one step closer to being the person I want to be.
I have met some truly incredible people during my four (and a half) years here. College has allowed me to spend six months in a foreign country with whitewashed streets, baked in golden sunlight, drinking wine and listening to jazz late into the night, observing a culture entirely different than my own. It opened my eyes to the entirety of the world around me. It has allowed me to travel to unknown places searching 10,000-foot Italian spires, rising high above lush green valleys, terminating in snow-capped peaks that the glowing morning sun barely stretches over, strewn with light turquoise rivers, covered in tiny bright purple wildflowers and and eating the perfect slice (okay, who am I kidding, entire) pizza. It made me realize I was searching for something deep within me to always live this kind of life in pursuit of exploration and live it in the moment.
College for me was a blur of late nights spent laughing heartily at absolutely nothing, cooking burrito bowls, and watching goofy movies, days spent traveling to local cities to explore book shops and drink hot coffee, nights overlooking the city sipping cold beers and talking about life and love and the boys that we fell for and the people that we met that left us feeling somehow a little less and maybe a little more than ourselves.
College allowed me to meet someone who would spark my interest for adventure and ignite a fire within me, a restless desire for exploration in untamed places. It allowed me to fall completely, serendipitously in love for the first time with a landscape, to travel across the United States, living off nothing but handfuls of almonds, little bites of fruit, and traveling west while living one day to the next, watching stars dot and illuminate expansive western skies like something I never could have imagined.
And this is where paths that crossed for a meaning begin to diverge, because sometimes, when you meet someone I think they are put in your life for a reason, and sometimes when that reason for their presence ends, it leaves you with something else entirely.
That same first love broke me completely down and stripped me barren two years later, leaving me at a total disbelief that love is even real, or something that could exist at all. That same disbelief and cynicism allowed me to find a strange courage and determination that I did not know was within me, that courage allowed me to run my first 26.2 miles, something I never thought would be possible.
I know love by the feeling I get watching a mountain sunrise, bursting with oranges and reds, strewn across the changing sky, barely cresting over mountain peaks, breaking the night, taking away the last trace of star filled skies, I feel love while watching a full moon hang low in the sky, standing in the middle of a pine forest, listening to a crackling campfire, breathing in fresh air, gazing out over a dense forest after a difficult hike. I feel love though conversations between people that make you feel as though you’re connected to their soul, through delicious home cooked meals, cold beers, and infinite giggles. I know love through all of these experiences.
I was having dinner with a good friend a few nights ago, and sitting on his rooftop balcony we talked about having a passion for life – something many people do not possess. How did I get surrounded by these people, these truly amazing friends, who are (to name a few) working at world renowned art museums in major cities, taking mountaineering courses post intensive knee surgery, going to medical school, ice climbing, changing the ecological community, opening sustainable eco spas, running ultra marathons, biking the full Continental Divide Trail, becoming adaptive ski instructors, and hiking the Appalachian Trail with me. – The people surrounding me inspire me constantly to say the least, and by keeping them close I become a little better every day. (I hope).
After graduation over beers at a local bar, a few days away from moving out of my college town and starting a whole new kind of adventure, my parents and I were in deep discussion. If you died tomorrow would you be happy with what you’ve done so far with your life? And while I feel like I need a million years to see and learn and experience everything I want to, I think I would be. I’m only twenty two, I’ve known love, I’ve traveled, I’ve been broken hearted, I’ve yet to a feel these each of these things a million more times. But for now, I at least know I’m happy with where I am.
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