HOWCLAY MET MAY...in the beautiful green mountains of Vermont in a rural town known as Poultney, i was going to begin my first year of college. Being the only school i applied to, i can not begin to describe how ecstatic i was when i received that letter telling me that i was in fact, accepted and was to arrive at Green Mountain College the last weekend in august for an orientation w/e (which would consist of being a part of some kind of outdoor recreation). Now let me just say that i was in no way, shape or form a very outdoorsy person at the time. At all...Unless, of course, you consider building forts as a child with your neighborhood friends, chasing after fireflies or playing tag for so long you think your heart might stop at any moment, outdoorsy. I'm pretty sure that's an entirely different category all together. And let me just say that Green Mountain was based very much on outdoor recreation/leadership and the environment. This was going to cause quite the lifestyle change for me..So the school soon sent a form with maybe 10 different orientation options that we could choose from-from beginners hiking to rock climbing to white water rafting. I went out on my little limb and went with Intermediate Hiking. Daring-i know, but safe as this was definetely going to be my first experience doing anything like this. Not that leaving my comfort zone, and going away to school where i wouldn't know a soul wasn't scary enough, but i was going to have to hike for THREE days with a 45lb. pack with a bunch of hippies in the woods. And i found myself wondering..what have i gotten myself into and- would there be coffee?? At this point in my life, i was still very shy and introverted. So this was a huge leap into the real-or semi real-world for me. Sometime during that summer before college, a letter arrived in the mail from Maine from my soon to be roomate, Sam. She sounded like a very interesting person, full of life and ambition and inquisitive about who i was and what kinds of things i was in to. I wrote her back equally excited about meeting and getting to know her, and yes, i did want to go halfsies on a small fridge for our room. We spoke on the phone a few weeks later and decided to meet before leaving for VT so my best friend from high school, Beth and i packed a few things for the w/e and piled into my white Ford Escort wagon and headed North toward mid-coast Maine to meet Sam and her best friend Jess. I fell in love with Maine that w/e...and met two amazing girls who would each change my life in a different way..Sam, exuberant,halarious, crazy Sam, yanked me out of my shell and helped me to realize the life and humor within myself..and also, that Rugby was NOT the sport for me. And eventually, over the next few years, Jess and I became long distance friends..we'd chat through emails, updating each other on one another's life and times, neither of us on any particular path necessarily but trying to get 'somewhere.' Three years had gone by since we met for the first time, and i had taken a leave of absence from school and been working for Crate and Barrel, and had been bitten by the travel bug. Bad. I wanted to fly as far away as i possibly could. So i picked New Zealand. No great story as to why-i knew little about NZ so it was intriguing, both tropical and cold, and a far, far away distant land. I wasn't trying to run away from anything, i just wanted to be away for a little bit in an unfamiliar place, to experience and to challenge myself. Luckily, after sending Jess an email asking her if she might want to accompany me since neither of us knew what we were doing with our lives at the moment, she agreed. And i was stoked. Now all we had to do was finalize our plans and hand over a good chunk of money to STA Travel for airfare. That part wasn't so fun and i think i may have blacked out for a minute but of course, it was well worth every cent.
That compilation of years between my first year at school and the NZ trip, undoubtedly changed my life..in a positive hands on, growing through experimentation and experience kind of way. If i had thought differently at the time, i might of travelled before i went off to college. I might have had a better idea of what it was i was passionate about and been more driven towards that goal. However, i am a firm believer in things happening for their own reasons, even if we don't completely understand the path along the way, eventually we figure out our direction. Jess helped me to figure out my direction..sitting on lava rocks underneath the shade of a coffee tree, taking a break from an ungodly weeding project, i realized i had found my other half. My soul sista. And ever since then, our mutual love of travel, great food and drink-and coffee-have taken over our lives. I can't walk aimlessly out of the way in search for the best cup of coffee in town with ANYONE else. So maybe someday, the dream of owning our own artisan bakery and coffee shop will come to fruition..