Now that I’ve got my peace-out-of-America date (Sept. 26), its started to sink in that I’m really leaving, which in turn has made me begin to take notice of and start appreciating the little things around me.  Now that most of my friends have packed up and left for school/the real world/random ends of the globe, there’s not a ton to do here, especially at night.  Luckily, a few close friends are still around, at least for the next couple weeks/months, so there’s decent company.

Tonight found me meeting up with a friend for drinks down by the water.  Though the Strand, as its known, is only about a 10-minute drive from my house, sometimes I feel live I’m driving forever.  Because my office is on the water, I’m downtown every day during the week.  While most of the drive absolutely blows (congestion, traintracks, strip malls), the last bit of it is a little slice of heaven in an unexpected place.  It’s a short stretch, about 2 miles, down a straight strip that feels more highway than anything else.  As the road begins to go downhill, there’s a view of small white church nestled into the hills.  On nice mornings, I make an effort to speed past the other cars and trucks on the road and get a clear view, then squint my eyes and pretend like I’m driving toward a little Italian village.  Maybe that sounds crazy, I don’t really care.

Anyhow, so I get to the bar.  Its not a College Park bar by any standard, but its got a lot of space and outdoor seating on the waterfront, with a sweet view of all the boats docked on the creek.  While by no means my favorite watering hole, its nice to go somewhere and see so many familiar faces-girls I graduated with, my high school French teacher, the mayor’s son, the town supervisor with a personal vendetta against my mother.  It was a nice reminder (for the most part) that even though growing up in a small town can leave you feeling cramped and suffocated, there will always be this community that you know and understand and that knows and understands you.

Right, so post-bar, my friend and I go back to my house, sit on my back porch and get the hookah going.  While hookah is obviously relaxing.  After an hour or so, he left, and I stayed on my porch, savoring the melon-flavored hookah until it kicked.  Leaning back and looking at the clear sky, I had the realization that its going to be a long time before I see stars this bright again.  Thanks a ton, Seoul light pollution.  Adding to the mood was the almost deafening sound of crickets, coupled with the sound of cars whizzing by on the Thruway and the occasional train whistle.  The other night I started moving my sister into school on the other side of the river and met her roommate, a nice girl from Connecticut.  While we were checking out the dorm, the Metro-North train sounded its whistle, and the roommate said how that noise always takes her by surprise and annoys her.  Betcha in another few months, she’ll grow to love the whistle, like everyone else here.

Anyway, I’m not sure the point of all this rambling.  I’m just starting to realize how little time I have left here, and how its the little things, the highway stretches, the crickets, the silhouette of the mountains at dusk.  I’d take pictures if I had a digital camera (too bad I kill every one of them I’ve ever owned within a matter of a few months), but photos wouldn’t do this place justice.  Also, its 2:30 in the morning.

The leaves on the gargantuan maple tree in my front lawn are beginning to change color, even though its early in the season.  It’s almost fall, which means change for everyone.  My sister starts college and turns 18 (and will pierce every possible body part), my mom is going to invest in a motorcycle and I’m collecting passport stamps.

I think its only appropriate at this point to give a shoutout to Hudson Valley resident Pete Seeger, who churned out this beauty for The Byrds to bring to the world.  I distinctly remember sitting in Mrs. De Camillis’ music class in elementary school, learning this song and singing it over and over and over.  So now I give it to you, to play over and over and over.

And with that, I think it would be wise for me to hit the sack.  Maybe my mind will be less jumbled after some sound sleep.