Putney, VT: I emerged from the school bus and stepped onto the gravel. The light was harsh as I looked around to see a collection of white farmhouses dotting the countryside. The distant mountains loomed large; this was nothing like home. Cool air swirled under my green capris. I didn’t know that by “nice” weather, they meant cold. We were the last group to arrive: Frank and Dejane from home, Emily from Tupelo, and Laura from San Francisco. We were led to the faculty performances in the assembly hall.
“The last group from Memphis is here,” Tom Howe announced to a sea of expectant eyes. My roommate Sacha helped me lug my bags down the hill to our dorm.
That night I felt more alone than ever. I’d been away from home before and hadn’t gotten homesick, but this was different. I went to sleep not knowing if I would enjoy my three weeks in Vermont.
By the third day, I already felt part of the Putney community. It took no time at all for me to warm up to the cool Vermont weather. I quickly became friends with Mac from Brooklyn and Suzy from Columbus. Our temperaments fit seamlessly. When we were together, we were a big ball of energy, bubbling with exuberance. We spent most of our free time lounging on the grass and waiting for one of our many meals of the day. We rarely left the farm but we were a content community nestled on a mountaintop.
The Writing Program was a smaller community within the Summer Program. All day I wrote with 17 others from all over the country. We were a diverse group: Tamira from Canada opened my eyes to the colorful night life of Montreal; Allegra from Wisconsin wrote satires on the preoccupations our society has with the media, and Claire from New Jersey revealed aspects of her inner self.
However, writing wasn’t always fun. We soon learned that it was difficult to write for eight hours a day, five days a week. Sometimes we suffered writer’s block and got bogged down in editing. One day we spent most of the afternoon arguing over the definition of the word “grapple.” Despite our frustrations, we learned a lot from each other and grew tremendously as writers.
When we left the farm, we would go into town to contra dance, swim, and visit the Putney General Store. My favorite trip was to North Hampton. Mac, Suzy and I spent the day shopping in thrift stores, wandering through music stores and drinking coffee. That night, I had my first experience with Thai food. After a long day, we drove back with shopping bags in hand, exhausted.
The last week went by the quickest, to my dismay. Much of it was spent free writing as we finalized our pieces. The rest of the days passed in a blur. I tried to hold onto every moment. The last day was by far the most emotional. Mac, Suzy and I reminisced about our three short weeks together. Before I got on the bus, Mac and Suzy hugged me tightly, squeezing tears from my eyes.
Now that I’m home, I cherish all my time at Putney. I keep in touch with Suzy and Mac at least once a week. As a writer, Putney helped me to hone my skills. I got a good feel of what it would be like to be a full-time writer. Attending Putney left a mark on me that will never fade.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.