My journey to Neverland

Sydney Taylor

During the summer of 2008 I met the modern day version of Peter Pan. And he drank boxed wine.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, my fiancé and I seized the opportunity to work in the Adirondack Mountains at a rustic lodge. For roughly $8 an hour we scrubbed toilets, informed tourists from New Jersey that there were no car accessible roads to the High Peaks, and worked in a sweltering kitchen with no air conditioning. The kitchen is where I met the man who refused to grow up.

At 40 years old, this guy could fit all of his belongings into a backpack. He had never been to college, held a serious job or owned a car. A quintessential drifter with a drinking problem, he was a gentle stoner who made amazing chocolate chip cookies.

Initially, I was confused and slightly disgusted by his lackluster lifestyle. I have always prided myself on being a straight-A student with an encyclopedia-length list of plans and goals. My friends and family have always teased me about being an old lady trapped in a young person’s body – my 61-year-old mother has even accused me of not knowing how to have fun.

For me, college has not been a party. I spend almost all of my free time studying and thinking about the future.

After spending a summer living in a tent across from this free-spirited person (who did not use a cell phone or a bank account) – I learned an important lesson: Although I do not want to spend the rest of my life bereft of responsibility, I need to embrace my inner Peter Pan and slow down the race to grow up.

This person I met in the Adirondacks may not be considered traditionally successful, but he loves life. And he lives it in his own way. In the future, I may have an important job or a large paycheck, but at the end of the day if I can’t smile and enjoy life then what was the point of all that hard work?

Next year I will graduate. Instead of jumping directly into grad school, I am actually going to take a break from my academic-obsessed lifestyle and savor the unpredictability of living without a timeline.

For one year I will refuse to grow up, sip a glass of boxed wine, and maybe I will find my personal Neverland before I start that scary reality of adulthood.

Sydney Taylor is a junior art history major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.