Living in a town that boasts a mere 27 square miles has made me appreciate the merits of having a car. Moving from Ellicott City, Md., a sprawling, indistinct area with four high schools, to the enclave of Wilton was a culture shock. It’s safe to say that I had never before experienced the bizarre anomaly of “town spirit.”

When I first moved here, our quaint downtown area was the epicenter of my middle school adventures. Being able to walk from school with my friends, unaccompanied by adults, bright pink backpack in tow, to Swizzles for a large helping of tart fro-yo and then to the study rooms at the library, made me feel like a bonafide vagabond. I finally understood why my dad would always boast about riding his bike to school every day, rain or shine, despite some probable embellishments that he added to this claim. In contemporary times, however, parents are a bit more guarded when it comes to their children; who knows what kind of lunatics their kids could run into behind Stop & Shop while searching for Pokémon (a bit passé but relevant nonetheless)?

That being said, such a free-spirited lifestyle cannot be sustained indefinitely. There will come a time in every Wilton child’s life where their insatiable palate can no longer be quenched by a Venti Mocha Frappuccino and a quick stop at the Toy Chest. Instead, their haughty penchants will leave them longing for a slightly different variant of the classic BEC (Bacon, Egg and Cheese) in a neighboring town. The lanyards that upperclassmen so brazenly dangle from their pockets, taunting the hoards of freshmen and sophomores who so desperately yearn to walk to Coffee Barn without getting a detention, symbolize something greater than their apparent fashion statement or ability to drive: freedom.

When I first got my own license, the first thing I did was ironically commonplace: I drove to town to get an iced coffee. Yet something about being in control of something so powerful, having the ability to go absolutely anywhere, was completely thrilling.

My favorite thing to do as a kid was to sit in the passenger seat of my mom’s car, just staring out at the passing vignettes around me. It was always so fascinating to me that while it only takes about 30 minutes to drive through Delaware on I-95, it’s an entire state that houses almost a million people. While it takes up just a fraction of my own time, it comprises someone else’s entire life.

Getting my license has made me appreciate the idiosyncrasies of our surroundings. Gazing out the fogged windshield, cool wind bats at my cheek, the rose sky drifting by in a montaged daze, the evanescent landscape of winter snow lacing Cranbury Park patiently waiting to be illustrated as Fiona Apple wistfully croons in the background of my car’s stereo. The forest cover, glistening from a recent rainfall, casts an inky cloak over the disheveled bushes and bramble lining the narrow road. Having the ability to quickly pass by my surroundings has made me truly appreciate the beauty of my home. While you can drive through Wilton in a matter of minutes, it will always be an important pit-stop on the road map of my life.


Skyler Addison is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.