Contagious excitement caught in California |

Contagious excitement caught in California

Out There
Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

I don’t want to wax philosophical about weekends.

Well, maybe just a little.

Recently, I had one to remember, one that mattered. It reminded me what these days off can be. Beyond relaxation, weekends can be this time to step into another way of being ” and come right back out again.

This last weekend, I went back to Arcata, Calif., my old college town.

It’s still affecting me.

Toby, my little brother, was graduating this time, and I just had to watch him cross the stage. And maybe I was hankering for Arcata, too. It’s like nothing else. Five hours north of San Francisco, it’s this hippie hamlet, sequestered from the “real” world. It has the ocean, massive redwood trees and skies dripping with fog. Just as striking, it’s filled with an unending supply of students, so many of whom really believe in the place. I guess there wouldn’t be much reason to stay if you didn’t.

I let Arcata talk to me all weekend long. To be fair, it has its share of angry homeless men and drugged out teenagers, but still, I was walking around that town smiling like an idiot. With graduation looming, there was a hopeful excitement in the air. I was high on it.

And yet, I saw hardly anyone I knew. Then, Friday night, I ran into a young couple from my old home of Silver City, N.M. (of all places). Andrew, this laid-back musician, was playing his guitar for tips, and Lexa was watching. She seemed brighter eyed than normal and quickly confided to me that they were expecting a baby. In the next few months, she said, maybe they’d go back to New Mexico, or perhaps they’d build a wigwam nearby. A few minutes later, she I were dancing next to someone’s grandmother as Andrew played “Guantanamera.”

I felt so far from my own reality ” deliciously so.

That emotion sustained itself the next day, as I saw my brother receive his diploma with hundreds of other students. I felt like I was watching this kaleidoscope of personalities walk before me, and I became involved in their dramas. Their excitement and relief was palpable, and yeah, I got a little misty eyed. When Toby was called, I must have had the goofiest look of pride on my face.

So there I was, drinking up that feeling of opportunity. And then, just as quickly as I had arrived at that place, I had to turn around and return here. I admit, I felt a little resistance having to “cowboy up” for another Monday at the office. Part of me wanted to be like my brother, a freshly minted graduate with few set plans, driving his way up to Alaska (really, he is).

But I think that’s just the seductive quality of weekends speaking. My heart swells with energy when I see all those other roads people are taking.

Truly, though, I’m just as excited for them as I am for myself, being right here, right now.

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