30 days of gratitude: day 17 – new england literature program

day 17

i don’t remember how i heard about it or what the application was like, but i do remember the profound impact that university of michigan’s new england literature program (nelp) had on me. the people, the place, the reading, the writing. seriously one of the most unique and memorable six weeks of my life thus far.

i am grateful…

  1. that i was sober enough (just barely) to receive the director’s last minute phone call on st. patrick’s day freshman year of college telling me that although i had been waitlisted previously, a spot had opened up for the spring 2006 new england literature program
  2. and that i was able to sober up even more to get myself over to her office for an interview immediately
  3. for six weeks in the maine wilderness with absolutely no technology or external influences
  4. for my kingfisher cabin family, including the lower half (love you anna, alex, shae, paloma, erin, and drew)
  5. that paloma let me shave her head and tape a piece of her hair into my journal (the first true bond of a lasting love)
  6. for the 39 other students and 15 staff who challenged little 19-year-old sara to grow the fuck up
  7. for every unexplainable bruise that seemed to appear on shaelyn’s bum (yes, i have photos but i will spare you)
  8. for the natural beauty of camp wohelo and lake sebago
  9. for the stunning sounds surrounding me always, usually coming from anna or andrew or nels or hannah or one of the other amazing musicians in our nelp
  10. that i got eight college english credits to hang out in the woods with some of the best people i know reading and writing and hiking and dancing and laughing (even if it did totally wreck my chances of getting into the english honors program sophomore year)
  11. for team fire, basically the best food group known to nelp
  12. that i now have frost and dickinson poems eternally memorized and set to song in my head
  13. that i survived hiking into 90mph wind and rain while submitting mt. washington (seriously, rain hurts like hell when it is going that fast)
  14. for alistair’s bright blue rain pants (and the dance moves that came with them)
  15. for the opportunity to explore my love for public art experiments
  16. that my fellow nelpers helped to break my default white food only rule
  17. for quiet early mornings alone on the dock with my journal, followed by abrupt morning dips with paloma
  18. for the moment when my amazing journal group leader took me aside and said, “sara, you are very intelligent, but if you don’t take yourself and your ideas seriously, no one else will” after i had read a jewel poem during a group read-around #bestjournalgroupever
  19. for the hilarity of hannah and kevin and sensor and schlitts and the other crew of comedians helping me not take life too seriously
  20. that i participated in the mass streaking of the staff meeting (even if we did get in trouble…)
  21. that i spent six weeks reading the works of the transcendentalists in the exact landscape about which they were writing
  22. for alex’s butterflies-in-your-belly inducing hugs
  23. and andrew’s rendition of every bob dylan song, but especially “she belongs to me”
  24. for stolen bowls of ice cream with my favorite lady clan
  25. for night walks void of artificial light and filled with wildlife squeaks and scatters
  26. for aric’s nelp vocabulary flashcards #bestgiftever (these still get hung up in every house i live in… narma)
  27. that i have two fat journals full of literary reflections, self journeys, and meandering musings that will live on forever to remind me of the amazingness of my time at nelp
  28. for every single letter and care package that my friends and family sent me while i was banned from technology
  29. for nine day weeks, talent shows, contra dances, wunder kammens, and every other nelp-y thing not yet listed
  30. that more than ten years later, the relationships i made at nelp are still some of the most meaningful relationships that exist in my life
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