Whenever I’m asked where I went to college, I say that I went to Emerson in Boston. It’s true, that’s where I graduated from and spent my last three years of school, but what I usually neglect – only because the explanation often exceeds the attention span – is my secret Castleton.
Before I wandered into Bean town, I went to Castleton State College in Vermont. At the time, it wasn’t much to speak of in regards to high accolades or academic scholar, but for me it was exactly what I needed. Let’s be straight – Castleton accepted me. That’s important, because my list was short. Apart from my year at Hartford Academy, my time in high school was anything but well utilized. It was not kind to me nor I to it and having said that, I reiterate… Castleton accepted me. So I went.
Castleton was close to Killington, Lake Bomoseen, Birdseye, Middlebury and not too far from Burlington or really anything in Vermont for that matter. From a young age I had an affinity for Vermont and if I could get an education while doing all that I loved in the Green Mountain State, then I was going. Long story short, my single semester in Castleton changed me. I left with a 3.8 GPA, was a student senator and played rugby. And then I left. I headed off to Utah to ride for a season before taking a scholarship at Emerson.
I put Castleton behind me and moved on. Don’t get me wrong, I made incredible friendships and a roommate that has been a best friend ever since, but the place as it was, fell to what I call my secret Castleton. I allowed it to fall as California, Block Island, Boston and New York took its place and for years, no matter how much I revisited the state, it would be as if I never went to school here.
Now, revisiting Castleton for the first time in many years, I feel ashamed at my inadvertent shun on such a truly magnificent place. As I sit by our lakeside tent at Half Moon State Park with our wives and our friends, I regret not cherishing it more – not appreciating it more and not shouting to the world about my secret Castleton.