nostalgia for the Land
It’s been 4 years since I left central Pennsylvania. In my final adios without grand gestures or a carload of tears, I sped off thinking that I would not miss the place. How could I miss the landscape that accompanied me through the awkward and tiring years of premature, rapid, reckless transitions? In the 5 years during undergrad, I felt like I was rushed through a handful of separate lives. College may be the best time of many young people’s lives, but for me, I don’t really regard 18-23 as a ‘fun’ time. Perhaps you may think this is a shame, or maybe you pity me in some way for not enjoying my youth. I’m not too concerned about it though; I have far much more fun in my adult years than many of my peers.
Anyway, back to my point: I never thought I would really miss it. There were a scant number of bars and clubs nearby, and most of them were not impressive or exciting. Nightlife was slow. We’d have to drive an hour to go to a chain that blared country music as the half-naked waitresses as young as I was served watered-down fluorescent beverages to drunken wanna-be cowboys. If we stayed on campus, it was almost a ghost town on the weekends since half to two thirds of the students were either commuters or termed ‘nontraditional’ (i.e. real adults with jobs and/or partners/families). Of the portion of the students left on campus for the weekend, most partied elsewhere with their senior friends and slept during the day. I was not interested in the partying as much as others were. I’ve always freaked my peers out a great deal with my preference for mornings. During college, it was difficult to find a work-out or breakfast partner. Consequentially, I sunshine-surfed on my own, and by the time the girls down the hall were singing and dancing as they dressed for a frat-tastic black-out, I was in my pjs watching Adult Swim. Like I said, I did some of the partying and late-night Denny’s run, but that is not what I miss at all. I miss what I took for granted: the space, the quiet and Nature.
Living at a campus not within walking distance of anything but residential developments and the woods, and having only a small portion of students with whom to interact, it forced me to entertain myself with what was available. I exercised, read, wrote, sketched, studied, and meditated. My memories of the campus on weekends was a big chunk of empty land for me to roam and explore. I got used to the space. I liked the lack of cars that drove by and the quiet of the air.
I visited the woods a lot, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a few others. I found solace by the river and among the trees. What was wonderful was that for the miles I walked in that forest, I never saw more than a couple people on the trails on any given day The golf course nearby was barely seen from the lower riverside and trails, and the golfers never had a reason to venture into the woods. I could feel as if the woods were mine. That is what I miss terribly. I miss having a forest to go to whenever the mood takes me, night or day, summer or winter, fall or spring. I miss being able to walk undisturbed at night by the river and skip stones or talk to spirits. I miss not being able to set up blankets on the green in the golf courses and watch meteor showers. Where we live now, the woods are guarded and watched at night, as are golf courses. They are also not within walking distance like the woods at the edge of my old campus were. I have had so many fantasies about venturing out at night to explore these woods in this area. However, cops seem attracted to my car, and there are not many good places close by to hide it.
I miss land, space, and freedom of wandering, exploration and movement.
Camping is a necessity, but it holds me over for only so long. My ideal is to be hidden from the eyes of humans, safe from the interruptions of cars and businesses and to have the open sky, green forest, and babbling brooks at my doorstep.