Cape Cod to Cape Town

Jack Reed
July 20, 2019

I spent the week before I left in Eastham on the cape where there is infinite entertainment at the shore: drive-ins, flea markets, ovens cooking twenty pizzas at a time, a grave unmarked except for bones and shells, a seal eating an octopus just ten feet from sandy onlookers, the sun descending each night into alternate islands of Rothko reds, after dark the beach alight in bonfires and the dancing flashlights of elves. I climbed a massive dune to find nothing but fencing on the top and still was content to look down into the unknown darkness of the sea and up towards the Milky Way splayed out like baby powder. 

I was nervous to travel across that ocean, and still unpacked, unsure of who I was, where I belonged, what was to come, and how to not be myself for just a few seconds so I could see how happy and lucky I was in comparison. Still, there was another trip planned, to Tecumseh Missouri, where my friend spent a year on a fully self-sustainable (except for soap, sugary cereals, seltzer, and toilet paper) community farm. It was a massive two-day drive to Tennessee and two flights to Springfield, MO. I do not feel at liberty to talk much of what happened there, as it is not my place, but it mostly consisted of de-weeding grass, hoeing, building trellises, and putting the ducks to sleep. I also realized how to float by unaware of my own body for hours at a time just lamping how plant matter might, sitting with my feet up in the shade with no reason, goals, or plans, (Eek! Cape Town was now in four days and I was still only half packed.) I caught myself with the reassuring idea not to worry, that any scary thoughts are egodystonic, that is they are frightening exactly because they are against our true sense of self, and we can safely ignore them.

Now that I am here I am wishing I had a guitar to play my songs and feel a little more myself. Mostly I am just worried I don’t have hip enough clothing or I’m still too shy to meet new people, both of which I can prove false; it is just a matter of effort and luck in meeting the right folks. We hiked Lion’s Head and saw the sunrise over Green Point and the cape peninsula, the fancy residential districts still shaded in their inlet. I have yet to see a shanty or any sign of crime besides the sometimes nervous headlines posted on lampposts. I feel safe, and now grounded in going to class five days a week. My professors are engaging, surprisingly receptive to feedback, and often eager to hear me talk. I am looking forward to more hikes and meeting more people.

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Jack Reed

<p>In addition to studying astronomy at Vassar, I am a music and physics education minor and will be spending next fall abroad in Cape Town, SA. Outside of class, I am a member of Aircapella Whistling choir, the Unframed Arts Collective, Crafts not Bombs, and play bass for school bands. In my free time, I enjoy playing guitar, singing, biking, hiking, drawing, reading, and discussing current events and politics.</p>

Home university:
Vassar College
Hometown:
Poughkeepsie, NY
Major:
Astronomy
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