When friends become family

Kristina Deckert

Good news. I’ve successfully made it through my first full two weeks at my internship in New York. Surprisingly, I’m having a damn good time and learning a lot, and 99 percent of it is not job-related.

First, I’ve learned I’m not “quite in the real world” anymore, according to Sherra Babcock, the director of education at Chautauqua Institution. I’m pretty sure she’s not kidding, either. I have officially time traveled. I am in the Victorian era, where the houses are all gigantic and pastel-colored, have beautiful architecture and, my favorite, wraparound front porches. (The porches remind me of the South, where I was actually supposed to grow up instead of in Northeast Ohio.) The lake I am living on is not real, either. It is painted, especially at sunset, with pinks and blues and reds. This place is gorgeous and I may be gearing up for the best summer of my life.

Besides the beautiful backdrop that is now a part of my life for the next nine weeks, there are also some beautiful friendships that are in the making among the intern staff. First, my five roommates and I were all thrown into a tiny house with sagging ceilings and a front door that didn’t lock on our first night here. However, despite the fact we all take lukewarm – potentially ice-cold – showers because there is only one bathroom, we’ve already bonded over the movie “Enchanted,” bike rides to work and evening chats on the dock by the painted lake. We’ve already bonded over drunken dance parties in our living room, trips to the bookstore and taco nights. Hell, some of us have already even had the conversation about poop.

That’s the funny thing about friendships. They usually form within days, sometimes even hours, and can potentially last for a lifetime. And apparently I’m in the perfect place for meeting friends because “Chautauqua is all about relationships,” according to Jack Voelker, director of recreation. There really is something about this place that seems to inhale strangers and exhale friendships, and probably sometimes more.

I’ve found that this situation we were all thrown into is similar to the first week of college. None of us knew what the hell we were getting ourselves into, and basically we had no choice but to latch on to each other. I’m not saying this is a forced friendship. I’m saying we were there for each other when we really didn’t know anything else. We’ve only been together for about 14 days, but we already have “family” dinners, we’ve bonded over shopping in Wegman’s (the best grocery store ever) and trips to the “beach,” which isn’t really a beach at all, by the way. There’s imported sand here because, surprisingly, sand doesn’t usually come with lakes. And the best part of the last 14 days is that we’re all already sick of working.

Each night after we all get home from a hard day at the office, most of us either grab a beer, go out to that painted lake and talk, or sometimes we just stay inside, watch TV and relax. Either way, I’m spending time with people who I don’t even really know yet. Somehow, though, we are becoming a family who looks out for each other, cares for each other and has a damn good time, too.

Kristina Deckert is a junior information design major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].