A Love Letter to Allegany

“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.”

-Frodo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

Dear Allegany,

I’m so sorry I didn’t get to see you this year. I got married and some of my family and dear friends flew all the way to Scotland to see us tie the knot. I wanted to share it with you, but we just didn’t have the means. But we had perfect weather and a day I’ll never forget, followed by a week in Corfu. It was the best time of my life.

But I’ve had lots of “best times”. Last year, the best time I’d ever had was the week I spent with you. My husband-to-be and I rented one of the same cabins that my family and I always rented when visiting you on the Ryan Trail. Every summer from when I was a baby, we rented a cabin on that trail or sometimes others, and stayed a week or more. Playing in the creek, at the beach, on the playgrounds, visiting the A-building museum and gift shop, hiking the trails, fishing at Red House or Science Lake, exploring woods, spotting animals, roasting marshmallows, playing board games on the screened porch with the glorious scent of the falling rains, smelling of campfire, looking for salamanders post-rain, climbing Thunder Rocks. The list is endless and some of the best memories of my thirty-four years are with you.

As I got older, my sisters and I would bring a tent and camp. Then it got to be short visits, a day here or there, when I lived away from home, but I’ve only missed a very small handful of summers with you. In recent years I’ve made sure I came back. Last year topped them all: the first time I’d stayed in one of your ash-scented green cabins since childhood. Opening that creaking, battered screen door, the smell I hadn’t thought of since I was ten hit me like a nostalgic tidal wave, washing memory after memory over me.

My parents came down with us to help us set up. I’d never stayed in a cabin there as an adult, so Mom had a long list of everything she remembered she always packed. An axe, matches, antibacterial gel, buckets, dish soap and pan, tons and tons of newspaper, citronella candles, Trivial Pursuit, a mirror, a nightlight, a lantern, a kitchen full of food . . . a car’s worth of supplies.

It was a beautiful week. Every evening, we walked around Red House Lake with the setting sun, looking for the animals that came out at dusk. I showed my future husband the place most important to me that feels like part of why I am who I am. One of my sisters and her family came to visit for a day. I loved seeing the kids’ faces enjoying everything the way I enjoyed it, hopefully making memories like the ones I’ll always cherish.

You’ve always been my favorite place on Earth. You remind me of all that was good and fun and exciting in my childhood, and when I go back, it’s like I’m 6 years old again, without a care in the world.

This year, I missed you. After our amazing week last year, I swore I’d never miss you again, even if we were reunited for only one day in a summer’s visit home. Life has other plans sometimes. My passport has been in the hands of the UK Border Agency for several months now, stuck in their backlog of visa applications, and I missed seeing you this summer. And as the summers disappear quicker than a blink, I realize how precious my time is, and what I do with it counts more than ever.

Next year, we’ll be back. We’ll rent a cabin and I won’t spend a second of my time with you thinking about anything else. But knowing that you’re there, even when I can’t be, that other people are enjoying you— that makes my heart happy. 

Thank you for a lifetime of memories, and the rest of my lifetime for even more. I can’t put a value on the amount you ignited my imagination as a child, and how much joy you always bring me. Maybe someday I’ll introduce my own kids to you. Please don’t let anyone change you, and I’ll see you next summer.

Love,
Cheyenne

P.S. I could do without the hanging caterpillars, though.

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Summer of ’12 wouldn’t make a catchy song title.

Neither would this weather go down in anyone’s good books, but it will have to do.

The UK had the wettest June on record, to go along with the coldest whatever on record and the wettest some-other-month (April?) on record. This year has been awful for weather in the UK, apart from the glorious week during my wedding which was 80+ degrees and stunning. All this has made it very hard to make decisions because–as I firmly believe–one needs to be in a good frame of mind (but not too good) for sound decision-making. In this case, where to live and what jobs to apply for.

Right now, my visa application (4th one) is sitting with the UKBA, as is my passport, so I’m unable to travel out of the country at the time when I most want to go back to my hometown in the U.S. and visit my family and enjoy the summer they’re getting, and this:

Red House Lake, Allegany State Park, New York

I will continuously rave about Allegany being my favourite place in North America and post endless photos I’ve taken there (apologies). {g}

I’ve been living in the UK for over 5 years now, and I have to say the summers have become less and less pleasant each year, which makes waiting for this visa more difficult.

Back to the job thing (this is a rambling post, can’t you tell?). There comes a point when you just want to settle down, if, like me, you’ve moved from apartment to house to apartment for years on end. I’ve moved 30 times now on last count, and I’m very eager (now that we’re married, as well) to buy a house, put nails in the wall and carpeting down that no one else has ever touched.

Unfortunately, as eager as we are to do this, a few more decisions need to be made. I’ve been job hunting since graduating in 2010, and it’s been a long, frustrating slog. Part of me just wants to write full-time (a very big part of me) but the practical side (aka my husband) says I need to start a pension and get a career under my feet before an agent sweeps me away and my best-sellers are flinging their way to Kindles everywhere. I’ve been looking for jobs in publishing, marketing, film, etc. where my writing/editing/admin/computer abilities will be best used, and have had to set aside some of my “dream jobs” (researcher for film, film editor), apart from writing (which is my heart’s truest dream, I would say, and always has been). These types of jobs don’t seem practical unless we relocate to London, which we’re not.

So I’m at that point where major decisions need to be made, but I’m finding it really hard when the sun isn’t showing its face for more than 10 minutes a day. How about you – are you affected by weather at all, whether good or bad? Do you feel like your emotions, decision-making, or motivation is impeded by external things or do you have a means of disregarding such things?

And the most ironic thing of all this is, despite this weather dragging us down and making it hard to decide whether to try to relocate – given that a relocation will put our house-buying further in the future, but might be better for us long-term – I want to move back up to Scotland. Where the winters are longer and the summers are nearly non-existant.

Why? Because I took it as a good omen that our wedding day was on the nicest, warmest day Scotland’s seen in about 500 years 😉

Done rambling, off to do some writing. Hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July yesterday!

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