September 20, 2013

The Comfort of Memories

Today is my 28th birthday (yay!), and this evening after work, the hubs and I will head up to Lancaster County for a quiet Pennsylvania weekend. I don't know what it is about growing older, but each year I have less desire for a raucous evening celebrating at bars. I would rather go out to dinner with friends or have a nice meal at home with the hubs, not because I want to hide from my birthday, but because when it comes down to it, I love the quiet.

I first went to Amish Country when I was about 12 for a summer program at Franklin & Marshall College. I spent three weeks there, making new friends, being a total nerd, and falling for the charm of Turkey Hill lemonade and the freshly-baked cinnamon bread found at Central Market. When my parents picked me up to bring me home, I cried and looked out the back window, wishing that I could stay there forever. 

For the next couple of summer, I returned to Lancaster for my three-week haven. It held a magical essence of independence and safety for me, a time when I could venture out on my own (as much as a young teenage girl can really do so at a summer camp) and have an experience that was all mine. I didn't have to share it with the girls at school, I didn't have to be whoever others thought I was-- I could just run free through the quad, giggle with my new friends as my dyed our hair blue in the dorm bathrooms, read good books, and frolic barefoot at the weekend starlight dances.

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Things were simple then. Isn't that what we all say about our youth? It's true. We were unencumbered then. Maybe not entirely, but certainly more than we are now. When is it that we started to drag our feet a little more heavily and lose the sparkle of adventuresome whims? When did our imaginations start to fade and wither?

When I think of Lancaster, my eyes close involuntarily, and I smile as I feel the warm sun on my arms and sing along to the phantom songs of those summer nights. I hear the click-clack of the horse-drawn carriages on the street and inhale the scents of the downtown market. Comfort still lives there, bathing those memories with the happiest of sighs.

I know it won't be the same. It's been over a decade since I was last there, and nothing stays frozen in time. But I hope that as we embark on our quiet weekend, we will be able to savor the magic, even if it has different tastes and scents. I hope that we open ourselves to simple joys and pure moments, soaking in every step and sway, and tuck it safely in our memories for future days.

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