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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

A different destination

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(6/2014) AhhhhÖI apologize for starting my article on an especially relaxing note, but after a long and rewarding year at Mount St. Maryís I think that every one of us deserves the chance to take a deep breath before our lives get crazy again (donít worry, they always do). For many of us the summer is a chance to kick our feet up and relax, for others itís an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, and for still others itís the ideal time to go out and try something brand new and go to places theyíve never been before. For me, summer is the perfect opportunity to spend some time enjoying the little things in life and discover some new things with the people I love: my cousin Joe and my Uncle Thomas. Every summer, my brother and I make it our sacred duty to convoy up to Syracuse, New York to spend time with our family and do a little bit of traveling with the people we love.

You see, unlike a lot of families, I donít get to see my extended family very often. Over time, weíve scattered across the country (predominantly the East Coast) and, as most people are too well aware, time constraints make it so that the days when I get to see my family are few and far between. This is especially sad because my cousin, Joe, is very close to my brother and me, both in age and in spirit. Heís shared some of lifeís greatest times with us. When we were younger, we would run around in the backyard, hurling water balloons and shooting squirt guns at each other. As we got older, we shared in some of the time-honored traditions that come with every teenage boyís existence: girls and crippling awkwardness.

On one of our famous trips, the three of us drove to the nearby town of Canandaigua to sample some of the fine cuisine (in laymanís terms, there was a Philly cheesesteak place renowned for greasy, slobbery, delicious food). The drive up was uneventful enough for our standards. We may have cranked up the rap and rock music all the way up to eleven, but other than that it was a usual drive for three boys with something in their pockets and nothing in their stomachs. We pulled into the parking lot, entered the store and came face to face with the greatest challenge of all: a cute girl working at the register. Now, it was at this moment that thousands of years of social conditioning, biological programming, and intellectual ability should have kicked in. It didnít. Instead, what happened was that our brains and bodies miraculously transformed into Jell-O pudding and we were left flailing our words around trying to order a drink to go with our sandwiches. After several minutes of gesturing to the fridge full of sodas (and by gesturing I mean we bordered on interpretive dance), I finally smacked my head against my hand and blurted out, "He wants a bottled soda." Our herculean ordeal finally complete, we settled down to eat our sandwiches only to discover that they were just about as uneventful as the drive. To this day, none of us can explain what made our entire collective minds go haywire at the exact same moment, but itís still one of the funniest moments the three of us have ever shared. Was it stupid? Absolutely. Awkward? Painfully so. Hilarious? More than anything.

And itís not that we havenít had our fair share of funny moments with my uncle, either. One of the best parts about driving up to Syracuse is getting to marvel in the glory of our 40-something child of an uncle. Never before has God put so much snark and sarcasm into the soul of a human being and allowed him to walk around this world. Heís the first one to crack a joke, or make a biting remark about anyone or anything; the man would talk back to a tidal wave if he thought it would appreciate his humor. The first time he met my father was during a game of football, after he had been knocked flat on his back by my dad. What followed was an exchange of names and a lasting friendship. One of the first times he met me as an infant he told my parents it didnít matter if I was smiling, that I wasnít truly happy, just excited about the attention. He then proceeded to snatch me from my parents and ask me a very simple question: "Do you want to go into the oven, little baby?" Apparently my constant giggling and goo-ing was interpreted as a resounding yes by my uncle, who made a big show of opening the oven and wrapping me up like a loaf of bread to be placed neatly inside. So yeah, the manís got a good sense of humor.

However, it wasnít until Iíd spent a week living with him in the summer that I fully understood how deep that sarcastic streak went, and how much like us he really is. It was in the middle of the week and I had just woken up from a deep, donut and chocolate milk fueled sleep. I spent most of my first moments rolling back and forth in the sheets like a human burrito, trying to figure or whether or not I wanted to close my eyes again. Suddenly a string of incredibly loud noises erupted from the basement and I heard shouting, gunfire, and a string of expletives. Realizing that my time in a delicious human bundle was destined to brief, I threw the sheets back and sprinted downstairs, not positive what I was going to find when I arrived. What I saw shocked me almost as much as the eruption of military conflict in our basement would have. My uncle, still wearing the shirt and shorts that he had had on the night before, was sitting in front of the TV with the volume turned all the way up and a controller in his hands, playing my cousins copy of Modern Warfare 3. He turned, looked at me and demanded to know how the sniper rifle worked because the game was starting to tick him off. I did eventually show my uncle how it worked, but only after I sat down and took a few minutes to laugh about what I had just witnessed.

You see, while many people use their vacations to go explore exotic locales, or sample all kinds of exquisite food, itís important to remember that travel can be an important time to connect not just with a location, but with the people that matter to you. While I have been to some strange places and done some pretty outlandish things, itís always the little things about the people I go with that I remember the most. Itís the stories about people, with people, and involving people that tend to be the messiest, the funniest, and the most important to a successful vacation. Until next time, Iím Kyle Ott. Wonít you sit and read for a while?

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