How many perfect Athens days do you have left?

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Photo by Evan Chwalek. Double exposure taken at James Hall and Scripps Amphitheater.                                           Nikon FE 35mm camera with 10.5mm f/3.5-22 fisheye lens

Seniors! Take heed! These last couple dozen days will be busy. But what will you regret when it’s all gone? What will you have wished you did?

Those leaving Ohio University and Athens should take the time to savor these last few weeks here.

You may think that you’ve done it all in Athens and OU. And maybe you have. But would you be remiss to do it again?

Some of my friends are documenting their last month in Athens. An Instagram for each of the last days or see-everyone-before-we-leave Facebook posts are digital last embraces.

They made me remember a Magazine Feature Writing class I took last year to fulfill my junior composition requirement. For one assignment we had to write a front of book piece about “the perfect day in Athens” for a tourism magazine. The challenge was to fit it into a couple hundred words. I didn’t know how I could condense Athens down this much. How do you the capture the feeling of such a varied place, while cramming in enough info to make it useful for someone who has never been here?

Writing the piece was a great exercise in reflection. I thought back to all of the things that made Athens the big college-small town that it is. So I pulled it up, to see if I really captured the allure in a few short paragraphs. I’ll share it here.

 

From bars to clothing shops to trails and back again, choose your adventure in Athens

Just like the Ohio college town seems to sprout up from the woods around it, opportunity springs from every corner.

Your eyes take a second to adjust to the sun. The golden-hour view from the top of Radar Hill sweeps over wide plains down to the city below. A plan spontaneously discussed in Jackie O’s on Union Street over a pint of Firefly Amber Ale turned into the perfect sunset-speckled cap to a day spent in the city you now overlook. A vista of snapshots flicker by in your mind. A quick trip to Donkey Coffee for a cubano cappuccino wired you up enough to swim across Dow Lake from the beach in Strouds Run. And to your surprise, the perfect frisbee toss comes back like riding a bike. Which you also did, along the top edge of the old orchards on the Ridges Trails on your way to the scenic view.

A perfect Spring day in Athens is a combination of adventures unique to the town. In a moment you can change scenery from uptown vintage shopping at The Athens Underground on Court Street to the rolling rural sights of southeastern Ohio. All of the above would contribute to any great Athens day, but the best advice is to look around. An errant food truck such as Adam’s Rib (the smell from the grill is a wily snare) or new seasonal salsa at Casa Nueva on State Street could entice you away from any set plans. Find your adventure.

 

A few things came to mind after reading that for the first time in a year. First, how spot-on was I? Second, I need to go outside. Third, and most sobering, I realized what my hundreds of classmates are leaving behind them. The rush to graduate can cloud life like dust kicked up on a dirt road, and unfortunately that obscures some of the last good times to be had. How many perfect Athens days do you have left?

When I was a senior in high school, a neighbor of mine told me to enjoy college because it will be the best four years of my life. I’m sticking around for graduate school, so apparently I took those words to heart. Four years? I’ll try five, at least.

You don’t need to take those words as seriously as I did. You all have amazing, scary, exhilarating real lives ahead of you. But think about what you will say to your kids or a neighbor kid some day, telling them about your time at OU. Telling them to seize the moment. Because you remember when your moments there were quickly trickling away.

Bobcats about to graduate! How badly do you want to stay in Athens forever and ever? Or are you ready to get the hell out of this town? Let us know on Twitter or in the comment section below. Also, be sure to like us on Facebook!

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