All of the leaves have turned a translucent gold, as magical as something right out of Moonrise Kingdom. We had hiked to the top of Pine Top, a mountain close to the Mountain School, with the sun high and clouds speckled across the otherwise unobstructed blue. Pine trees spilled onto the hills that lay ahead, dark green up close, but from a distance taking on the color of a soft bruise. We sat around an old fire pit discussing tactics for setting up tents in the rain and debating the importance of long underwear in preparation for our upcoming camping trip. At this time, we were still learning everyone’s names. One night in the winter, we went back to the same spot, calling out each other’s nicknames as unobstructed blue turned to deep orange and then faded to black. During the new moon in Vershire, Vermont, the Milky Way is visible clear up ahead and makes you wonder about only the deepest questions in life, such as how to unstick an abundance of hay from leggings tucked into wool socks and whether or not the grain given to the sheep tastes like dried pasta. After we fed the sheep while singing our own renditions of Christmas carols, Maggie and I trudged up the icy main road to the lodge for dinner. Stars from the Milky Way hung in a stripe across the sky and looked tangible. Maggie and I spent hours over the course of the semester just being in awe of the expansiveness of the sky. But there was food to be eaten and conversations to be had, and the stars would be there afterwards, always constant and worth seeing even if it meant lying outside in sub-zero temperatures. This was place defined by authenticity. Vershire provided each of us forty-five students at the Mountain School with space and time to be our true selves, which sometimes meant writing haikus inviting friends to tea breaks, reenacting the entirety of the Lord of the Rings series, and writing out the questions to our existential crises on blackboards in the humanities room. I like to believe that this genuineness was due in part to being in such a beautiful place. Emotion is like a gas in that it has no physical boundaries; the happiness we experienced by learning about each other, taking care of each other, listening to everyone’s individual stories, and finally being able to recognize each other’s silhouettes in the dark seemed to roll off over the mountains. We knew the trails well enough to navigate back to our dorms in pitch darkness with ease. We know that our minds lie connected under the constellations of this uninterrupted world we called home. We felt that place by opening ourselves up there together, by not being rejected for anything, by sipping tea under the firmament of memories and looking back only to make sure we hadn’t left anyone behind along the way.
-A. Ze. F’13