In defense of hanging out

At the farm earlier this spring: (l-r) me, Audrey Weber, Julie Carson, Katie Bono, Courtney Robinson, and Hannah Dreissigacker. from Julie's camera.

At the farm earlier this spring: (l-r) me, Audrey Weber, Julie Carson, Katie Bono, Courtney Robinson, and Hannah Dreissigacker. from Julie's camera.

I celebrated the beginning of Memorial Day with a few friends, eating brunch on the porch of their apartment. Audrey Weber introduced us to homemade pannekoeken, the Dutch pancakes which resemble overgrown popovers but are even more delicious than that description might suggest, especially when doused in maple syrup.

We accompanied this treat with fresh orange slices and grapes, which Laura Spector said she had been wishing for all weekend during her long workouts in the hot weather. Well, mission accomplished.

I was in the midst of planning a bike ride up to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for dinner later in the week. Audrey offered to drive up and give me a ride back, since she recently had shoulder surgery and is mostly stuck biking on rollers for her workouts. But, she said, “I’ll be busy, it’s my last week of hard work…”

…. in college. Ever. We looked at each other, each thinking about what that meant. Then we shrieked. Two men walking past on West Wheelock Street looked around, wondering where the noise had come from.

It’s predictable, I suppose: we have known for moths that all this was ending. But only now, when it is really, really ending, are we beginning to realize what it means, how our lives will change, what we will miss.

Because how many more brunches can we have like this? We talk all the time about how often we will visit each other, how we will race the Alley Loop in Crested Butte together in two years, how we will sit on a porch in rocking chairs when we’re seventy, and all have short haircuts and gray rat-tails.

Maybe these dreams will pan out. Maybe, two years from now, Courtney Robinson will skip a few days of dental school, and I’ll leave my Vermont home and my new ski team to fly out to meet her in Colorado for the Alley Loop. Maybe our friends, to whom we’ve suggested the idea, will jump on board and use some vacation time. Maybe Courtney will strap on her Rossignols and me my Atomics, and we’ll chase each other in loops around the snowy streets. Maybe we’ll win, but probably not (after all, there’s usually a few Olympians in attendance). Afterwards, we will enjoy the beer tent provided by New Belgium Brewery, and the free pizza from the Brick Oven. I can already taste it….

In a way, this particular dream is perfectly emblematic of my state of mind: in this vision of the future, I bring the people I think I will miss most to the place I think I will miss most.

Because that’s what the future is, an opportunity. Right?

We swear it will be. We promise that we’ll see each other all the time, that the fact that Audrey, Hannah and I are going to keep racing next year means that maybe we’ll all swing through the Front Range to see Courtney.

But at the same time, we know that we don’t know the meaning of that word, “opportunity.” The future is different from the present, and while it will be populated by the same friends, it will also be populated by new friends, new responsibilities, and new possibilities we can’t even imagine. Next year, our teammate Sarah Van Dyke will be in China. How does that fit into our imagined concept of “opportunity”?

And so, in the meantime, we try to do absolutely everything in the last few weeks of school. There’s a push and pull between the sense of urgency to do as many fun things as possible, and the recognition that we have to sit back, relax, and finally just enjoy being here without worrying about how many things we can fit into a day.

Driving back from a ski race in March, Courtney and I made a list of things we were going to do in the spring: spend a weekend in the Second College Grant, drive up to Quebec City, traverse the Presidential Ridge. We haven’t accomplished many of them, but there’s still time. That’s why I’m riding to the Lodge. It will be one box checked off the list, but more importantly, one afternoon I spend with my friends doing what we love.

Between adventures, we’ll keep cooking brunch and grilling bratwurst and corn on warm evenings.

And we’ll still harbor the dream that in fifty years, we’ll all be safe and healthy and wealthy enough to retire and sit in those rocking chairs, looking out at some mountains, and shudder about how we thought it would be funny to have rat-tails, back when we were in college.

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