It's been a good winter break. I say this both objectively and in comparison to the past few.
I suppose, in retrospect, it isn't hard to trump my time at home freshman year, a chunk of which I spent in bed recovering from wisdom tooth removal, or sophomore year, which I spent mostly camera-less.
Still, I feel like I spent time this break creating memories, rather than just looking forward to new ones. Over the past few weeks, I danced with flashlights in the middle of the night, caught up on my reading, saw a great film or two, turned into a tourist in the streets of Boston and became a guide through the townships of northern New Jersey.
After visiting Amherst, Alexa and I headed southeast toward my boyfriend Gabe's house. Once there, we had one request: we wanted to go to the New England Aquarium.
I've only been to Boston a couple times before; last summer, I spent a memorable rainy night huddled under a tarp on the banks of the Charles River, watching 4th of July fireworks among a crowd of thousands. Four years before that, I skimmed the city with two busloads of my choir colleagues on the way to a singing competition. Our schedule, which did the best it could to mesh performance and sightseeing, was tight, and it wasn't a surprise when the planned trip to the aquarium became a race back to the busses. I always wanted to go back, and now seemed like the perfect time.
Gabe, being a wonderful boyfriend and a good sport, humored my urges to go on the most stereotypically touristy excursions in Boston.
That day, I fumbled with my Charlie Ticket while entering the T station, ate overpriced food at Quincy Market, gazed at cuttlefish and seahorses at the aquarium, and enjoyed every moment of it. Camera constantly in hand, there's no doubt I looked like the definition of a tourist. This truth didn't bother me; it would only be another day or so before the tourist tables turned.
The last night at his house, I watched Gabe buy a train ticket for the following Saturday: Newark, NJ to Providence, RI, one-way.
After the long drive back to Jersey, we dropped Alexa off and I started brainstorming locations of interest. The following days were filled with musical museum visits, tea drinking in Montclair, street exploring in the heart of Morristown and searching far and wide for a 17th birthday present for my little sister.
Day-trips are fun, but introducing someone from far away to my hometown is equally fulfilling.
“There's the diner we go to at midnight,” I point out as we drive down the streets of my neighborhood, “Oh, there's the summer camp I used to work at. There's my old high school, and see that stream? That used to be part of the Morris Canal. I pass it every day.”
I've gotten very used to seeing the old section of the Morris Canal daily, whether I'm headed to Shop Rite to pick up milk for my mom or driving over to route 10 on my way to Alexa's house.
Now that I'm feeling familiar with my hometown, it's time to shake that all up again. Right now, my room is a mess, clothes and dorm supplies haphazardly thrown into various semi-piles across my floor. By this time tomorrow, I'll be packed and prepared to head back up to Amherst. Dorms don't open until Sunday, but I'll be heading up Saturday to stay with friends.
This semester will certainly be an interesting one; between my investigative journalism class, my final semester of spanish, all of the photography I'm involved in, and dipping my toe into the world of writing for the Collegian, I know I'm going to need to get back into the swing of properly budgeting my time if I want to stay on top of my work. Still, I have a few more days before I can actively confront my new schedule. For now, I can only breathe in the last few days of break with an excited eye toward next semester.