Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp
I had this big plan. It was going to be perfect. I would graduate early from Cornell, hike the Appalachian Trail while applying to medical school, teach English abroad during my gap year, and enroll in a top medical school in 2011. Well, I did graduate early and I am hiking the trail, so those items have stayed in line. However, when it became logistically impossible to apply to medical school while simultaneously hiking the Appalachian Trail, the last few items did not make the cut. I chose to hike the Appalachian Trail rather than skip out and start my medical career a year earlier. Now, I get to experience the journey of a lifetime and have two full years before enrollment into medical school. I have no commitments or obligations. I am free to direct my life as I please.
This freedom is new to me. I went to Cornell straight after high school, so my life has previously been steered by academics and a potential career. I always took advantage of school breaks to travel and explore - even when I held a full-time job, I managed to acquire one in a new city. I got to taste the freedom, but constantly checked myself as to not get carried away.
But now! I am free! I can do as I please and go where I please! The Appalachian Trail was a good starting point. We take on a new name and a new identity. Your career does not matter nor your history - just whether you are sociable and can hike.
What have I done with this newfound freedom? Something I have been wanting for years - a mohawk. Yes, a mohawk. I had to work my way up to it. In Damascus, Nobody gave me my first trail haircut - a fohawk with an AT symbol shaved into the back of my head. A fohawk is similar to a mohawk, but you get to keep short hair on the rest of your head. It is a popular haircut in London, and I was very pleased with the way mine turned out. My second trail haircut was in mid-May after Kate's graduation. I got closer to the mohawk - I still had hair all over my head, but the mohawk was more pronounced. My third trail haircut was the real deal. My mohawk is wide and cut short with the sides buzzed. I think it is reminiscent of a military cut. For the years I talked about getting a mohawk, most of my friends thought it was a terrible idea. Terrible not for the social implication, but terrible for the way it will look. Well! This mohawk proves all of them wrong! It looks great and feels great. To me, it identifies my newfound freedom.
While the mohawk may not last forever, it is part of the beginning. I have two years of freedom to look forward to. Where will I go? What will I do? These questions have been floating around in my head, and I have developed a few answers - all tentative until I can nestle by a computer and telephone to do some defining research. Hospital work is a must. Leaving New Jersey is a must (sorry all!) CouchSurfing is a must. Theatre is a must.
Two years of freedom, coming right up!