Year Two: 2001The year started off in a non-descipt way, just a regular New Years Day, but with just as much promise as the last. I was in college. In a college town. With nothing but like-minded people around me. I had figured out my college routine - how to do class, when to skip, when to study, how to write papers with no one telling me what to do or when to do it. I was proud of myself. My friends and I started smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, because we were in college and felt like bohemians.
When summer rolled around I found myself driving to Buena Vista, Colorado to spend the summer washing dishes at a white water rafting company on the upper Arkansas river. I had a million CDs in my car and just as many stickers on my back windshield. I spent the summer climbing, hiking, camping, reading, completely exhausted, and completely satisfied. Every day was a marathon of exhilaration, monotony, joy, and more exhilaration. I spent many a night grilling for rafting groups on the banks of the mighty Arkansas, thinking about life and loving every minute of it.
By fall we were all back in Fayetteville, and our rental house was still under construction, so the landlord, who was also the builder, offered to let us crash in his lake house on Beaver lake until the rental was ready. This would become the beginning of the best six weeks of my life, up to that point.
On the eve of the first day of classes, my four roommates and I, plus a few other guys found ourselves surrounded by the entire Pi Phi sorority pledge class in our 3,000+ square foot lake house overlooking Beaver lake. The fully furnished house featured a big screen TV with surround sound, a pool table downstairs, an enormous deck with a grill and porch swing, and built-in speakers connected to a sound system that ran throughout the house, inside and out. Our nearest neighbors were miles away and the moon hung over the lake like a giant spotlight to our stage. We caught eyes with each other a few times that night, and shared the same thought: We were kings.
It was at that lakehouse that I watched the twin towers fall on 9/11, and called my brother in New York to make sure he was okay. The world was strange then, and that was the beginning of the end of an era. As the semester rolled on, my roommates and I began to separate. Through several circumstances, we were going different directions. I was dating a new girl and spending lots of time either with her or completely alone. I was good for me, and I started to gain a slight grasp of who I was, and before I knew it, the year was over.