Growing up in Grand County: Not many can say that
February 26, 2008
Every morning, I wake up in a forest. Not many kids can say this. I feel privileged, I feel lucky, but sometimes I feel trapped. Living in Grand County for seventeen years, I can safely say it’s time for me to leave, but I could never regret growing up here.
As a child, Winter Park was full of endless fun. Each summer my brother and I sold lemonade, rode our bikes, ate homemade popsicles, played capture the flag, and built a fort. Each winter brought skiing, sledding out back, ice skating, jumping off the deck, and our personal favorite, throwing snowballs at passing cars. As the years passed, these endless possibilities became childish, passe. So, we found new endless fun. High school brought parties, homecoming, football games, spooky Idlewild explorations, driving, and relationships.
Dating at Middle Park becomes more difficult with each passing year. Too many strings are attached to find someone with no baggage. Your crush is often a friend’s ex, an ex’s friend, or your ex. Many couples go in cycles, breaking up and coming back around. And the drama… break-ups, cat fights, black eyes, betrayal, hook-ups, make-ups, cheaters, players, everything you can think of, we have, in essence, a microcosm of our community at large played out on the stage that is high school.
Even if you don’t like drama, you will be involved. It’s inevitable, and there’s no point in fighting. I’ve tried. Every student will lose a friend, gain a friend, make an enemy, and befriend a foe, and every other student will know about it.
My group of friends has changed too many times to count. People who live here will tell you that everyone knows everyone, but the truth is, you will always discover new knowledge about the people who are your friends. The flip side? Sometimes those new facts are not supposed to be heard. And as a student, you have no choice but to be part of the perpetual cycle of rumors and gossip that leaves you vulnerable at any time with any decision, good, bad, or non-existent.
Sometimes a social life is difficult to coordinate here. Before receiving a license, hanging out means organizing, synchronizing, and meeting someone halfway from their house to yours. For me, visiting my best friend consists of driving 20 miles.
Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even work can be a journey. A job is a necessity simply for the costs of traveling to school, friend’s houses, and work. Plans are cancelled often, and sick days are less prevalent than ski days.
Living in a small town has its ups and downs. I’ve been here long enough to know I need to escape. I’ll miss the mountains, the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, new snow glittering in an open meadow, and the abundance of wildlife that surrounds us.
But my involvement in the community has taught me that small town life can be a warm embrace or a cold noose around your neck. I love it, I hate it, and I wouldn’t be who I am without it.