Name: Eva Pratt
Year: Class of 2016
Hometown: Middlebury, Vermont
Intended Program of Study: Classics
The Summer Before Everything
Saturday, July 7
9.5 miles from Middlebury, VT
I really shouldn’t have tried to blink.
It was all up my arm, in my hair, on my clothes, and now on my eyelashes, which refused to open. Feeling around the bottom of the machine, I turned off the heat switch and motor and then pried my eyes open with my fingers.
The room was a mess.
Fluffy pink strands of cotton candy were everywhere; the creemee (for all you non-Vermonters, soft serve ice cream) machine was covered in a sticky pink web, there was a strand in the rainbow sprinkles, and a small piece had even crystallized on the cash register, all the way across the room. Clearly, however, I was the cotton candy machine’s main target.
I scurried over to the industrial sized sink, sliding half way across the room when I stepped in a slick puddle of spilled lemonade. I sprayed myself off, pausing for a moment to admire how quickly a handful of the hated pink fluff was reduced to nothing by mere water, when my boss hollered out for another order.
It was our busiest day of the year so far at the snack bar down by the lake. Sounds like a decent gig, right? Working down by the water for the summer, selling creemees and hot dogs and chatting up campers. Any last hope I had for this quaint little job fantasy to come true was crushed by the arrival of the cotton candy machine. I still have nightmares about it.
Today was worse than normal. The line of customers refused to shrink, the creemee mix was far too soft, even for soft serve, and people were ordering the most inconvenient items on the menu at the most inconvenient of times. And I honestly wanted to backhand anyone who ordered another cotton candy.
I get it; cotton candy looks pretty cool. When the floss is spun on the cone just right, it looks like the tops of one of those trees from The Lorax. There’s not another food with quite the same texture, and it melts in your mouth better than warm chocolate. But once I started making the stuff, I began despising it. The smell of the burnt vanilla pink sugar turns my stomach and no matter how hard or how often I scrub, I still feel the tentacle-like strands sticking under my collar, snaking around my legs.
The end of the day couldn’t come soon enough, and when I finally got done at quarter of eight, all I wanted to do was go home and spend the night in the bathtub.
Oh, was this blog supposed to be about college? Sorry, but my abhorrence of cotton candy is really the only emotion I’m capable of feeling right now. I haven’t had much time to worry about going to school and being totally clueless, to feel anxious about never making friends, to problem solve how to fit my entire wardrobe into a tiny dorm room, to dread that I’ll end up hating my classes, to be sad about leaving home, to be overwhelmed by all this change.
After work, I slide on my aviators, put all the windows down, crank up the stereo, and floor it as soon as I pull out onto Route 7. It feels like I’ve escaped from prison, and when I’m shooting down the hill by the hog farm, I believe I can almost fly. It’s in these moments that I let my mind drift, and I allow myself to think about the future for just a few sweet seconds. I feel like this is the summer before my life really begins, that everything I’ve ever done has been leading up to next year, the year where everything is going to change for me, and it will be amazing. I’ve been waiting, waiting, for something truly great to happen, and I think, just maybe, this will be it.
I soar down another hill and the feeling shoots through my veins like an adrenaline rush as my stomach drops. Maybe I’ll take the long way home; drive a bit more so this feeling can last just a little longer. And yet, as the road levels out, I gaze out the window and feel a punch of guilt. With beautiful sprawling pastures to my left and the Green Mountains on my right, how can I want to leave here, the place I’ve lived all my life, so easily? I start to feel the sick twist of homesickness in my stomach, a feeling that I immediately halt from spreading any further. The clouds slowly blossom into a shade of pink with the setting sun, and an image of cotton candy pops into my head. I turn the music up louder and forget to think. I’ll do it later.
This Friday will be my first day off in twenty-two days (which, I’m fairly sure, is a violation of some sort of labor code). Maybe then I’ll take a moment to think about all those things. Maybe I’ll finally take a breath and catch up to all those scary emotions. Maybe I’ll spend the day on the Hopkins website, or stalking the class of 2016 Facebook page, anything to give me any indication of what next year will be like for me. But the summer isn’t even halfway over. I’ll probably just dream of cotton candy.