I am 21 years old and I have the legs of a boy half my age who has spent the summer away at camp for the first time. I am itchy with chigger bites and my knees bear the scars from nights playing sand volleyball and days spent hiking. My feet are covered with a kaleidoscope of tan lines from various sandals and my pink toenail polish is all but worn off. As I lie in bed at night and stare blankly at my computer screen, a tiny gnat – one of many – lands on my bright screen. I am surrounded by the type of wood paneling that makes you think of dank flannel shirts and as I try not to think about the ghosts that surely inhabit these walls, I have never been happier.

But summer is ending. I can hear my new friends outside in the hallway saying cheerful goodnights to each other, but we all know this bacchanalian is about to end. Nobody wants to talk about it though, because frankly, we all might start crying, and the scary part is we’ve all become so close that it would totally be ok.

I have one week of work left and I am almost hoping my boss forgets and just lets me keep working. The only thing keeping me from begging for a full time job and dropping out of college completely is the fact that my mother left school after 3 years and I know I can’t disappoint her like that. But it would be so easy…and it would feel so right. And the whole point of college is to go out and get a job, right?

It isn’t just the woods and the animals and the smell of campfires accompanied by the joyous laughter of children. It isn’t just that I love my job. It isn’t the buffalo and it isn’t the deer who live so near to our dorm that we talk to them like they’re our community dogs. It’s the people here that have made this experience so amazing, so the only comforting thought I have about leaving is that perhaps, in years to come, the same people won’t be back here and therefore it won’t be as awesome and I won’t be missing out. It’s selfish, but I’m a girl and I’m feeling sentimental, so cut me a little slack.

You see, I have Fomo Syndrome – a term we coined at the dorms that stands for “fear of missing out.” I’ve always been like that; Fomo kept me from taking naps as a child because I thought I was going to miss out on something important and I hated going to bed early because I knew that was when all the juicy stuff happened. I don’t want to miss out on more of the phenomenal experiences I’ve had while working at Custer State Park. Hopefully in the future we all will still see each other; a few of us already have plans to visit and those of us with significant others in the park are all going to try and make it work. There are quite a few of us who are going to come back for the Buffalo Roundup in September, so as I look forward to that I can only bite my lip, carry on through this week, and soak in every last drop of goodness in the air.


3 thoughts on “Narrative

  1. Those words almost made me tear up a little bit as I know exactly how you feel. This week, my husband and I went to Angustora Reservoir for some fishing, camping and to run away from all the bikers.. We live in the black hills, and we almost hated going the 50 miles, spending 4 nights away from our home and our deer and our life here at the house. I’m sure glad there are others that feel the same way we do. Loved reading your blog and enjoyed looking at the park through your eyes.. Be safe but be happy too!!!

  2. Like the prior post i teared up as well reading your post. My husband, dog and I will be arriving next week for a months stay at Crooked Creek campground in Hill City. I have printed up most of your blog to read to my husband as we travel around the hills during our stay. I have really enjoyed your postings of the shenanigans enjoyed by you and your friends in the Park. I hope you or someone else will continue this fun tradition of documenting your experiences while working at the Park. I am from California but both my parents were born and raised in the Black Hills so I have been here most every summer of my 66 years. When I married my husband we continued our summers here with our 3 boys as my parents owned a cabin in Spearfish Canyon and spent the summers there. That cabin is gone now so my husband and I bring our trailer to spend the month here. We hope to continue doing this as long as we are able and then we will probably motel it till we are put in a home. He He We love the hills and Custer State Park, God bless you in your future endeavors.

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