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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Of Moss and Mountains

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(1/2012) Memory is one of the most powerful and terrifying aspects of being human. Our memories can become distorted, making the people, places and events of the past seem overwhelmingly large, bigger, better, or unmanageable with the passage of time. Sometimes the things in our heads that may have made us who we are today can become completely small and insignificant, losing the place of honor they should have, enfolded within layer upon layer of grey matter.

But sometimes memories find their way to a place within our consciousness, where theyíre enshrined forever in complete clarity, enthroned in a spot where they can be looked at and appreciated. We can review the lessons, emotions, and wonderment of those moments over and over again. The passing of time does not seem to tarnish the luster of these precious gems.

For every college freshman the first few weeks of college are the equivalent of social euphoria. Itís a kaleidoscopic full of more people and ideas being crammed into your head than you ever thought possible. In that small space of time things that you do and say may become insignificant or over blown. In some rare wonderful cases these memories are forever captured in the frame of your brain.

One of those moments that have been forever enshrined for me occurred the third week of first semester, when the air was finally starting to get cool, and the wind had just begun to bite at the tips of our noses. I was sitting in my friends Maria and Charlotteís room with a couple of people, quietly watching everyone as they goofed around. The day seemed to be going exactly as planned until my roommate Francis walked in and decided to join us. For those of you that have never met the amazing Francis Lukban, heís a man of few words and frenetic action. When he arrives on a scene itís to herald change and the arrival of a random adventure. When I hang out with Francis, I donít know where Iím going to wind up; I just know itís going to be a place I never expected.

And so after three minutes I looked at Francis and asked what was, at the time a seemingly innocuous question: "Francis, do you want to go for a walk?" With typical nonchalance Francis responded, "Yeah, sure."

With crazy excitement we sprinted out of the room and out the door of Pangborn dormitory towards the mountains behind campus. While we burst from the doors, we caught another of our friends, John Powers (not to be confused with the British secret agent). Without saying a word John joined us and our intrepid band of three moved into the mountains. We moved with a singular purpose, none of us knew where we wanted to go but our legs seemed to be guiding us to some unforeseen goal. We slipped onto the trails through a hole in a rusted chain-link fence and dodged thorn bushes. We made our way to an old path that was worn with the footprints of a thousand other hikers and fellow students before us. As we wound are way up the mountain and drew closer to our goal, we became closer friends with every passing step as our conversation turned from school and classes to other things. We discussed which "Lord of the Rings" character we would each be and what kind of food we would have to eat when we returned from our journey.

After an hour of slow, methodical hiking we stopped by a cluster of boulders that bore a serious resemblance to the fantasy worlds we had just been discussing. Grabbing a stick and jumping on a larger rock I struck a heroic pose and yelled "Dudes, take a picture!" My friends laughed and hastily took a photo on my cell phone. Thinking that my statue-like duties had been completed I was going to hop off the boulder, when John pitched a clump of moss at my face. Moving (with what must have been logic-defying speed) I sidestepped the clump and bashed it to the ground with the stick. An idea seemed to wash over us, and John and Francis began taking turns hurling clumps of rich, emerald moss so that I could bat it aside. In that instant, moss baseball was born.

But, as fun as our newly created sport was, we had a goal to get to, a place that we were guided to by a singular force within us. As the sun moved lower and lower in the sky, its bright face just starting to descend below the crests of the oak mountains, we reached Indian lookout. Of course we didnít know it was called Indian lookout when we discovered it, or that it was a popular destination for Mount students who knew the trails. No, on that particular evening we were blissfully ignorant and completely sure that we had discovered a secret place that only we knew about. The three of us stood together arm in arm and quietly watched the sun sink below the horizon. We could have said many things: about how great the experience was or how happy we were that weíd gone on our little excursion. But on that night we said one quiet prayer about how thankful we were for the blessings of beauty and friendship. The hike back had a sort of reverence to it. I imagine that how we felt on that day was kind of like how the apostles Peter and John felt after Jesusí transfiguration, because we walked in quiet awe of the splendor and wonder of discovering a magical place and time with people we loved.

We came to that mountain as friends. We left it as brothers. And from that day on, until the day I finally kick the bucket, that memory will be enshrined. Cherish college and be wary. You never know when a wonderful memory is on the way. Iím Kyle Ott; wonít you sit and read for a while?

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