Tuesday, June 14, 2011

College Students. My own and others.

Over the weekend, Jess turned 19. She didn't want to go out to eat or have people over or anything. In fact, Friday night we (Doug, Geoff and I) went on a church retreat and left here here to hang out with the doggies. She watched hockey, drank Kool-Aid and Seltzer, and enjoyed having the house to herself for the first substantial amount of time since coming home from college. I think that is the best gift that we could have given her.

It is weird to have a 19 year old, almost as weird as being married for 20 years. I have to say that in the midst of all the "are you kidding me" stuff going on in my life, in my body, in our bank account, it is so wonderful to not have to worry about her and her well being. I like the person she is. I like that she hangs out here in the living room with us instead of always hiding in her room (like I did when I was that age and younger).

We had pizza on Saturday night, and I took her clothes shopping yesterday after work. At her request. She hasn't asked for any new clothes other than wacky nerdy T-shirts that are mostly Dr. Who related. She bought a lot of rather nice looking grown-up work things to wear to work at church, which impressed me. Nothing too dressy because she is a lot like me -- not dressy. But she looks great. I loved dropping her off this morning and seeing her looking like a real person working at an office instead of a college student.

As mentioned, we went on a church retreat up to a Northern NH summer camp that our church supports to do a volunteer work day and help get the camp ready for the campers to arrive. Friday night was gorgeous -- moony, warm, a little buggy but we handled that. We had about 10 people, a bunch of little kids, and a huge fire.

Staying at the camp for the past couple weeks is a roving band of environmentalists, I won't link to their website or anything, mostly because I can't find an official page for them through web searching, which seems a tad sketchy if you ask me. But they are young, idealistic, haters of big carbon footprints and climates that change. They are biking through the region speaking to groups about reducing fossil fuel use, and my guess is mostly for in-home use like heating. In talking to a few of them, I found they were from places like New Jersey and Massachusetts, but they went to college in far away places like Florida and Texas. Which, begs the irony of how do they get there if not by plane or car?

Reducing my urge to get snarky I listened to them talk about how important it is to put geothermal in your home, or solar panels (considering the month of May was the gloomiest May on record, with 20 of 31 days being overcast/rainy, I don't think that solar is the answer for Massachusetts...). Then they talked about studying overseas in Copenhagen and Paris.

"Oh, did you take the Human Trafficking class while you were in Copenhagen?"
"Oh yeah, that was really powerful..."

Flying to Copenhagen to take a Human Trafficking class seems a little anti-climate love to me, but ... whatever. I reminded myself that I was once young and idealistic too. Only I wasn't bankrolled by wealthy parents.

Anyway, the best part was when a beautiful young girl came over and played guitar and sang a song about the garbage ball in the Pacific. A truly heartfelt, unbelievably schmaltzy song. It almost hurt to listen to. I asked her if she was a fan of Guster, because hey -- they love the environment. Adam Gardner is Mr. Environmentalism.

She heard of them but didn't know any of their music, but she said Adam came and spoke at her college in 2009 and that he was "really cool." I encouraged her to learn some Guster. It would have made my fireside time a bit more fun.

I offered her a marshmallow to toast and she looked around to see if anyone was watching. "Oh yeah. This is great. I'm not a vegan so I'll take one! But be careful who you offer these to! There are some serious vegans in our group."


She then played some Dylan ("Simple Twist of Fate") and her willingness to eat a marshmallow combined with that musical choice made me much happier. She asked us where we were from so we told her what we were doing. She asked specific questions about our denomination, as she was Catholic and hadn't heard of us. So Doug and I filled her in. She asked if we were just like Unitarians, so that was a fun question to field. We ended up having a wonderful time with her.

I went to bed and in the morning, it was POURING out. The forecast was for overcast, so I wasn't exactly prepared (some Boy Scout leader I am). I only had Teva sandals because I thought I'd be doing painting and/or trail maintenance and didn't want to ruin my one pair of sneakers. I didn't have a raincoat. I had sweatpants and a sweatshirt, but that wasn't going to protect me against the rain... I opted to hang out with the 5 kids in the nice warm cabin while everyone else worked outside. Doug and three others went to do the trail maintenance and got the truck stuck in the mud. Geoff went with Jeanine and did some interior painting in the game room. Greg and Grant got up on rickety ladders and cleared out gutters that were backing up into the barn and causing roof damage.

Greg said that if it wasn't raining, he never would have seen that the gutters were messed up, and wouldn't have been fixed. So we were thankful for the rain.

As for me, spending the day with these five kids was absolutely exhausting beyond expectation. They camp directors left us boxes of T-shirts to fold and put into the camp store, and there were literally hundreds of them. The two older boys and the one girl did a fantastic job of folding the shirts and sweatpants and the two younger boys used boxes as boats, hideouts and forts. The boxes didn't last long. It was a riot.

All told they were probably as worn out as I was. It took me two days to recover fully from spending the time with them. This was my favorite picture of the day, I gave them a "break" and they just turned into a pig pile of children. Geoff later came in and sat on all 4 of them... and they loved it even though they screamed like they were being murdered.

Twas a good time.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little exhausted still, and a little blue today. Must be all the non-sunshine and the left over 5 children hangover. More later.

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