I love the bucolic setting in which I live. In fact, my buddies and I take great pride in being Vermont boys. We even feel a sense of rivalry between city boys and country boys. We boast (mostly to each other) that we earn our dirty hands and wilderness wisdom as definitive proof of an existence that trumps the clichéd view we have of a New York or Boston socialite.

After all of this reveling in our rural lifestyle, I am about to change course and venture into a new existence -- as a city boy. Today, I'm heading off to my freshman year at Boston University -- and I'm more than a bit nervous.

College has been nestled pleasantly in the back of my mind this summer. It seemed far away but sort of fun to think about, especially when I was asked to share my college plans at a family gathering or social event. "Where are you headed next year?" is the question that bombarded me each time I left my house. I would oblige when asked, saying that Boston was beckoning me -- Boston University to be exact. And I said was excited for all this. It was easy to discuss college. Like I said, it seemed so far away.

Now, my belongings are packed, my good-bye's are said, and I am about to be dropped off in what I can only imagine to be a sweaty dorm room with two monster roommates and multiple stains on the carpet. Hey, I am quite sure that college will be jolly good fun and a fair amount of studying. But I'm now feeling how I'll miss Vermont. The NEK has nurtured me and provided the experiences that define me. A home like this cannot be easily replaced.

My family has always supported me and given me more opportunities than I knew how to appreciate. From film festivals, exotic friends, and trips to unusual places, to dinners with movie actors and a lovely place to live, they have given me a life of excellence (actually, I complain about the fact that I'm still sleeping on the five-foot long bunk bed I had when I was four -- but who's keeping score?) But the astronomical price of a BU tuition also shows my parents' dedication to me. By my senior year they might have to panhandle outside the Dunkin' Donuts just to keep me in school.

My friends and I share a special bond as well. I have been going to school with some of them since kindergarten at the Peacham Elementary School. I don't know of any other place that would have created such a strong bond between my friends and me -- but I don't really know much about growing up in other places. But, for me, this has been good. I'm still hanging out with buddies who helped me dam up brooks and build scrap-wood shelters when I was 5 and 6 years old.

Finally, I know I'll miss writing for this newspaper, that took a chance on me when I was the awkward age of 15. That's when I started writing my bi-weekly articles and what an opportunity it has been for me. Without this platform, I wouldn't have had the chance to develop my writing and discover what is now my deep love of journalism. I also discovered a connection to this community that never would have been possible, through some of the topics I pursued -- and because of the countless number of people who have complimented or thanked for an article I had written. These gracious comments mean the world to me and I will carry them always. I also appreciate the constant support by editor Rosie (Chaloux) Smith. She is astonishing. It was a joy to write here, to such a great audience, and to elaborate on stories and opinions that were important to me. I'll miss this.

So, I leave here feeling that only this small northern chunk of Vermont could have made my life as a kid so good. Peacham, Barnet, Danville and St. Johnsbury have affected me so much. Their bogs, woods, roads, lakes, schools, stores and people have all provided life lessons, nurturing support and great memories. Now, I'm a country boy going to the big city of Boston. I am a bit hesitant -- and it looks like I'll arrive there and unpack my bags in the middle of a hurricane. l know I'll find my footing there, especially since Thanksgiving break is only a couple months away. But I'll think about all the Northeast Kingdom has given me.

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