I complain about my frailty while trekking uphill, or I pathetically moan that my leg muscles ache. “You’re almost there,” they say. I prefer to glide down the mountain with company, but then again, I usually seek out people in my extroverted way; the right kind of people for me to be around, that is. I grip the snow tube’s handles, hoping I won’t tumble off path, or worse, fall into foliage. The ride down is fast and cold as the wind howls and the air hits my face. It’s over before I know it, and I laugh and get up to do it all over again.
The resort’s lobby is the communal ground for those who come to vacation here, yearning to escape reality for a few days among the fireplaces and warm-colored carpets.
Craving to witness a makeover? An eccentric woman in the corner has the latest shades of foundation and eye shadow that may do just the trick. Do the youngins’ want to keep busy after breakfast? Simon Says Yes. My favorite daytime venture, the daily bingo game, is conducted by a man with a soothing, yet bellowing, voice. You can sort of see him as a television personality, but in actuality, you know that this is probably his sole job: working at the Catskills, providing entertainment for the eager and the earnest who seek it.
We dress up Saturday night for dinner. Saturday nights are why my mother reminds me to pack something black, something uppity and fitting. I fuss over my hair and carefully apply a coat of light pink lip gloss in the bathroom mirror. There’s cocktail hour – miniature egg rolls, pigs in a blanket, other hors d’oeuvres, and fizzy drinks – before we join everyone at our table in the dining room.
I attempt conversation with a boy who’s a couple of years older than me. I barely know him beyond small talk, but I’m pretty sure that we shared ‘a moment’ on the couch in the lobby. At least that’s what I rationalize at 14 years-old. At 14, I also translate his mere offering of a piece of Juicy Fruit gum as a mutual understanding that we are both puppy-crushing. I puppy- crush hard.
I spend a considerable amount of time in the arcade, the game room along the sunlit hallway, driving and crashing. I drive all over the world – exotic Hawaii, California, wherever. People crowd around, relaying how they fear for my upcoming license since I tend to knock things down at full speed. I drive carelessly and recklessly, hoping to advance my score and placement. For those few minutes, I’m nowhere except on that winding road.
We all gather in the lobby, getting ready to leave this inclusive shelter of a place that makes us happy. We say our goodbyes; I blink back my tears in the car and coax myself not to become too attached and saddened at this ending– “go with the flow” are the words etched out in my journal. Endings aren’t easy, and yet, all good things cease to last.
It’s years later, and the resort is currently vacant. Most of the resorts upstate have transformed into other venues entirely, leaving us with scattered remnants and memories of what once was.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic and want to get away for a few days, I become homesick for that spot lodged in the Catskill Mountains. Homesick for a place and time that no longer exists.