As a Midwestern Millennial, I’ve spent the past few summers flying home for numerous weddings. And as fun as those weddings were (more on that in a later post), it’s been nice to have a year with no forthcoming nuptials on the horizon. This year, I’ve begun my summer of selfish trips, where I get to go where I want, when I want, and do whatever the hell I want. Such liberation.
For my first selfish trip of the year, I went to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to visit my friends, Dan and Ryan. I will neither confirm nor deny whether or not I had to look up where Arkansas was located.
(Unrelated fun fact: Arkansas is technically a southern state, not a midwestern one.)
The best thing about weekend trips is how little you have to pack. I took four shirts, three pairs of pants, etc. etc. and still felt like I had overpacked. Waltzing onto the plane with a single backpack feels so good.
I also got a pair of seats to myself on the plane, which has never happened to me before. It took all of my willpower not to stretch my legs to the side as obnoxiously as possible.
So after that (surprisingly) enjoyable three-hour flight, my plane landed in Arkansas. True to form, I quietly whispered a solemn, profound declaration as I was leaving the aircraft: “Holy shit, that’s a lot of green.”
Arkansas has a TON of trees. Don’t know what I was expecting, considering that NW Arkansas is part of the Ozark Plateau.
I had expected SOME trees, at least. Prior to arrival, I had specifically expressed my desire to go hiking in a forest while I was there. One of the downsides of New York is its lack of opportunities to experience nature, and so I was starving for it by the time I arrived in the south.
Dan, being the great friend that he is, took me to Devil’s Den State Park for two rounds of hiking. I experienced a moment of combined delight and incredulity when we passed not one, but TWO separate waterfalls over the course of only a couple of miles (like how idyllic is that?) And then the next day we went to a nearby overlook, with a view that made my jaw drop (yes, that’s cliché, and I don’t care — come at me, fellow English majors.)
A family of five showed up at the overlook right as we were heading back to the trail. We crossed paths long enough for me to catch one of the kids saying, “We came all this way just to look at a bunch of TREES?”
With the hiking mission accomplished, Dan and I went to meet Ryan at Block Street Block Party, one of Fayetteville’s largest street festivals of the year. A summary of the event: live music, 150 vendors, beer gardens, thousands of people. There was a tiny zip line set up in a parking area, for some reason. Vendors selling gemstones and wind chimes bumped elbows with vendors featuring Razorback t-shirts or good ol’ BBQ. I saw more men with beards, wearing shorts and sandals without any shame, in one afternoon than I have over the past two years combined. It was magnificent.
And then there were the smaller moments of my visit. Seeing a movie. Getting a haircut (Ryan styles hair for a living and he is good at it). Putt putt golf. Getting ice cream. Mutually freaking out while watching various TV episodes together (that recent GoT episode was especially rough). The parts that wouldn’t strike outsiders as particularly interesting or unique, but, to me, mattered deeply.
Because when you take a selfish trip, where your primary goal is to visit your friends and just be with them for a while, the small moments matter just as much as the larger ones.
Small and large combined, it was a great trip. I’ve gotta be selfish more often.
Thanks for reading,