Two years ago, I did a summer program at an art school in Providence, Rhode Island. I still get really emotional when I think about it because of how much of a growth period it was—for me and the friends I met there. It was the first time I lived on my own. It was like the sleepaway camp I never went to, but with hip, intimidating older teens who were better at art than I was. It was such a time of amazement and shock—I experienced the culture shock of being in a more diverse community, being away from Canada and in the States, and of meeting people from other countries. It kind of felt like I could see further, like I was on an elevator in a high rise and, slowly, I could start to make out the curve of the Earth. It was exciting and scary at the same time, and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t used to being in a crowded space and being around so many people all the time, or talking about school in the same way, or how open people were about sex and drugs and what felt like other quintessential teenage things. But I also met people I’m still close with, like fellow Rookie Kati! We fan-girl’ed about Rookie in the dorms at night, and it’s so strange to see how far we’ve come.
I took so many photos that kind of got lost. Some I forgot to develop until a long while after, but the pictures hold so many feelings and memories that are similar to the thought of summer ending.
It took a day of driving to get to Providence from Toronto. Every time my family takes a road trip to the States on the East Coast, we visit the same shops in the same small towns. It feels like I’m checking up on the people in the places that no one goes out of their way to visit.
My first night in Providence, I went down to the canal with my roommate Ashley and visited Waterfire, a street festival held every Saturday in the summer. I walked around in what felt like a daze, trying to absorb all the new energy around me. We’re both quiet people, so we just observed the crowds in a comfortable silence.
The girls in my dorm hall—including Olivia and Kati—became such a tight-knit group. It became a ritual to stay up working and napping together through the night. It was like a pre-college edition of a sleepover, but with people cramped in a small dorm, sprawled on the floor with art supplies. Most times, these get-togethers took place in Kati’s lovely decorated room.
The view from the park where we gathered before going on a walking ghost tour on a Friday night.
Maya, holding the petals of a flower.
On our ghost tour, we were told to take pictures and see if there was any spooky orb activity. This photo and the next three were the results.
Camille, in the afternoon.
Every day I would pass by this church as I walked up the hill to my dorm before and after class. Reading the messages after a long day became a comforting routine amid all the anxiety I was experiencing. Sometimes the messages were humorous, and other times straightforward. It felt like I had a friend in whomever it was that was responsible for coming up with the messages.
We had lots of late-night talks.
Kati, Olivia, and Maya at Block Island.
Casilda on the steps outside the quad, on our last night together.
On my last night, I ate pizza at the go-to pizza place on Thayer Street called Nice Slice. My friends and I sat outside facing the street, trying not to think about how much we would miss each other.
Whenever I reminisce about a place I’ve visited, there’s always the remaining feeling of missed opportunities, and it’s especially strong when I look at this picture. Avon Theatre was the place my friend Maya and I told ourselves to make a mental note of. We meant to see Obvious Child, which was screening for weeks, but in the end, our hectic schedules got in the way.
Hannah, Casilda, Havana, and Maya under the Avon Theatre marquee on our last night together.
The view of Providence from outside my dorm.