After a truly amazing night in Keene, I took my time getting ready in the morning. The four of us converged on the kitchen for caffeine and calories before going our separate ways. Kirby and Jack headed off to work, while Kelly and I headed off for one last cup of coffee before our paths diverged once more. With Apogee people, you never really know when you will see them again, but you know that you always will.
From Keene, I hopped on Route 202 heading north all the way to Brunswick, ME. The drive itself really was not that exciting. I got stuck behind a moving truck for what felt like hours, which certainly made the mileage seem far more cumbersome than it actually was. All told, I would say four exciting things happened along the way. Noteworthy item #1: I discovered the cheapest gas of my trip thus far in Rochester, NH at $2.04. Sadly, I had filled up when pricing at $2.17 made me overeager. Shucks. Noteworthy item #2: My mom and I spent a solid half hour discussing and planning our trip through Maine and Nova Scotia. Noteworthy item #3: I finished The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way by Bill Bryson, which I had been listening to intermittently since Ohio. Noteworthy item #4: I accidentally drove past a rope swing in Buxton that we used to swim from in college. Luckily, when you live out of your car swimming is always an option.
Today, my destination was a little more exciting than my journey. I was going home on at least two different levels. For two summers during and post-college, I had led trips with Apogee Adventures. As you have probably already figured out, the people that I met through those experiences will no doubt be lifelong friends. Chad and Kevin, the owners, foster a community unlike any other I have experienced. They bring together some of the most fascinating individuals they can find, give them some guidance, and then task them with shepherding young adults all over the world. It is a truly empowering company that puts so much faith and trust in its leaders that they cannot help but strive for excellence themselves. I recommend them to everyone and anyone I meet looking for experiential and group-oriented outdoor experiential education. They rock.
Lucky for me, their offices are located in Brunswick, ME, which means they are on the way to Acadia! I arrived just as they were all returning from their lunch breaks, so I got to connect with Chad, Kevin, Hannah, and Shem. Together, they form the core of Apogee and are really the support network that makes it what it is. They are rock stars. We spent the better part of an hour talking about my recent trip to England, my upcoming adventure, Apogee’s past summer, and their plans for the future. I have to admit I definitely felt like I had missed out an amazing summer’s worth of trips, but I wouldn’t have traded my trip with my dad for anything. Who knows, another season with Apogee may be on my horizon someday…
After a solid round of hugs, I headed towards Lewiston, my home from 2009 to 2013. I still consider submitting my early decision application to Bates College to be one of, if not, the best decisions I have made thus far in my 24 years on this earth. I have yet to hear of or experience an institution that more closely mirrors my values as a person while simultaneously creating one of the best undergrad experiences out there. That being said, my fond memories of Bates are largely a product of the people that helped create those memories. Home is not just a place, but truly the interplay of people and place. Returning to Bates without those people was… weird.
Having not been back since I graduated in 2013, I was largely excited just to reacquaint myself with the campus, see any changes, and just feel like I was back home. My timing was such that I arrived on the day before the incoming freshmen leave on AESOP (Annual Entering Student Orientation Program). AESOP is one of the only, if not the only, orientation programs left in the country that is still entirely student run. I led for them two years and fully stand behind the program. It is a fantastic way to kick off your time at Bates. In the past, participation in AESOP has been strongly encouraged, but this is the first year that it has been a mandatory part of first-year orientation (unless you are a fall athlete). Personally, I think that making AESOP mandatory and synthesizing the international student orientation program with AESOP is a great decision. It means everyone starts their first days with a shared experience and a cohort of peers who they’ve already spent some real time with.
Showing up during AESOP means that campus feels very empty. About two hundred leaders are on campus, plus some athletes, alongside a freshman class of 517. Campus felt barren. The buildings were largely the same, with construction here and there, but the pulse of the college community was lacking. I’ll admit it was a little off putting. To counter the strangeness of the empty campus, I headed for one of my favorite history professor’s office to check-in with him before he left for the day. He had graciously offered to host me while I was in Lewiston and I had finally decided to take him up on it!
From there, I continued wandering. I headed up Mount David, the small mountain tucked behind 280 College Street that so many Batesies hold dear. Surprisingly, I found far more shattered glass and graffiti than I had ever seen in my day. Despite the deterioration of the rock itself, the view still inspired an oddly serene feeling for such a semi-urban setting. Descending, I headed towards Frye Street, a block of college-owned houses that serve as quasi-off-campus housing for older students. My sophomore and senior years had been spent in Moulton and Turner houses respectfully. I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures and send them off to my old roommates.
I was starting to think that I didn’t know a single student on campus anymore, when I ran into an old ultimate team member, one of my AESOPers from senior year, and one of my friend’s siblings. It was nice to know that there were at least three people who weren’t professors who had some memory of me as a college student at Bates. Next year, that would not be the case. It is so strange to think that one’s memory at a place like a college is as fleeting as the time it takes a student to graduate. The institutional memory that you leave behind is in some ways truly limited to the faculty and the relationship that you build with them as a student.
After having a quick bite to eat on campus, I headed across the Androscoggin to Auburn, where I would be spending the night. Three hours of solid conversation ranging from the history of the Penobscot Indians in Maine to my experiences in North Carolina to the struggle of writing relevant history and I am totally ready for bed.
I must say, even though Bates has moved on, there is still a lingering feeling of “home”.