In 1981 I set forth from Indiana on a plane headed west, with only a few bucks and two fat suitcases packed for the whole summer. It was my first extended time outside of my flatland home. I worked for The YMCA of the Rockies Conference Center in Estes Park, Colorado, a workplace I found via a pink mimeographed flyer posted on a college employment bulletin board.
Recently I described my job as The Night Switchboard Operator on an alumni forum for The Y Camp, as we affectionately called it. A museum director wrote me back immediately to say they kept the antique switchboard, which was already an antique when I used it. I sat with this board in front of me and a window view of Mount Chapin, Mount Chiquita and Mount Ypsilon behind me, with the Big Dipper circling the North Star right above the snowy peaks.
This photo does not sum up my summer: I hiked nearly 200 miles, according to my careful log. I played guitar until I was as good as I would ever get (not good enough to stay with it, I'm afraid). My friend Roger and I dodged boyfriend- and girlfriend- wanna-bes by pretending we were dating. Working the night switchboard meant that I never slept and I needed to go back to college to recover. I think I actually attempted to date six men that summer, trying to forget one important breakup. Mostly I recall vistas, wildflowers, and the faces of a dozen friends.
Here is a photo for the scrapbook--