They trek across the horizon, lugging backpacks twice their size. To the untrained eye, the small collection of ramblers appears purposeless in their slow though steady footfalls. As the nameless travelers bundled in neon-hued sweatshirts come into plain sight, their wind-kissed cheeks and toothy grins tell a tale I know far too well. By my calculations, they’re just moments away from their final destination: Starbucks.
In all of my 17 years, I have never felt more adult than during my journeys into town from Middlebrook. From selfies with hands wielding peace signs to crumpled white paper bags toting Scoops penny candy, these post-school day rendezvous defined my tweenhood. Bounding across sidewalks, the independence tasted nearly as sweet as all of the ice cream I’d buy with the mere dollars to my name; to feel so mature while making such rash spending decisions remains a paradox I’ll never quite understand.
At 2:50 precisely, I’d burst out of class and race through the trails of Merwin Meadows alongside equally animated pals. The weekly expedition had commenced. Dashing under the Route 7 bridge and passing into Town Center beside Portofino’s, we’d enter our kingdom exhilarated, breathless, and starving. With a consideration for the paltry allowances clutched in our eager fists, we prioritized food. Depending on the energy left within our little legs, we’d feast on steamy chicken noodle soup from the Village Market or hike all the way to Tom E Toes for a slice of pepperoni pizza. Naturally, frozen yogurt cravings kicked in by four o’clock or so. Something about assembling your very own topsy turvy masterpiece of toppings — and then watching each cent you paid simply melt away — was just so mesmerizing that we made sure to invest in the sugary delight at Swizzles often!
As a treasure trove of possibilities, CVS seemed to boast everything I neither needed nor wanted. I cannot begin to describe how many dried-out nail polishes still populate my bathroom drawers, all due to those extra five-dollar bills that my younger impulsive self could not bear to save. Here, we wove through aisles seeking amusement from the sultry models featured on hair dye boxes and the birthday cards with sound effects, all while munching on Blue Raspberry Sour Punch Straws until our tongues burned.
As darkness began to fall over Wilton, we closed off our escapades at the library. Crashing into cushy green bean bags in the children’s section, the extent to which we had overeaten translated to a dreadful fatigue. Occasionally we claimed study rooms, and though none of us dared to attempt completing any homework there, entertainment abounded within those stark white walls. (On that note, to anyone who once overheard 12-year-old girls belting Fergie lyrics in a space that they figured was soundproof, I am sincerely sorry.)
It’s certainly been several years since I last visited a pharmacy out of anything more than basic necessity. Frankly, there isn’t much for teens to do in Town Center; I can’t say my friends today would ever consider it a viable place to spend our entire afternoon. Though essentially loitering supplied ample fun in years past, our standards have shifted. As we now cling to cherished chances to romp around the High Line in Chelsea or to journey to some far-off, high-profile lunch spot just because of its above-average Yelp reviews, let us not forget those fleece-enswathed, Jansport-bearing hunchbacks of the past who strutted down River Road like it was their own.
Eve Ogdon is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.