Marena Mitchell: Exercise in free writing

Marena Mitchell SQjpgThis week has left me kind of stumped as far as writing material, so let’s see where this ends up. My free time has been dedicated mostly to catching up on episodes of Long Island Medium, a Joe Pesci movie marathon, and a weekend spent in rural New Jersey sleeping on a hardwood floor with no pillow.

It’s been fun and interesting (the only word to really describe rural New Jersey, I’ve found), but nothing got the cogs turning this week. I talked to a journalist friend of mine to try and get some sparks flying. After discussing the importance of having two taco places in one town, the best he could do was, “Is there anything you wish New Paltz had that it doesn’t?”

My answer? Disney World.

I can feel my entire inner circle of co-workers and friends rolling their eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I know just how evil the whole Disney empire is, but that empire is the landmark of my childhood. And also, Disney World is really, really cool.


I should note that the catalyst for my rekindled love for the place can all be blamed on a friend of mine who recently visited. More pointedly, his Instagram which acted as a live feed for every single event, ride and park he visited. Without this my love for Disney, and all theme parks for that matter, could have probably remained at bay for at least another year.

Of course there are plenty of actual answers to my journalist friend’s question. What would I like to see in New Paltz?

More (delicious) vegan-friendly options, less neoliberal yuppies, a more supported and supportive queer community, cheaper apartments, parking, bike lanes, a cat park to walk Daisy in and for someone to please close off that horrifying alleyway on Main Street next to Yanni’s. Some things are more plausible than others, I realize that.

There are some pretty great things about this place too. As I said early, having two taco places is certainly up there. There’s breakfasts at The Bistro, which I’ve yet to build up the courage to do alone. It’s a goal I set for myself almost three years ago and have yet to achieve. It’s one of the benchmarks I’ve set of being a true local, besides being born here or whatever.

After being here a while, I’ve come to appreciate that small-town sentiment of knowing people about town without actually knowing them. Through my job and this column, I see it happening to myself already.

I bought wine from the same person twice this week, the circumstances of which are irrelevant. Let’s just say I needed to channel my inner Olivia Pope for a night and then the roommate wanted sake. Either way, the clerk definitely recognized me and the little jokes and side conversations we had were more than pleasant.

Adding to the pleasantries is that big bright ball in the sky that I almost forgot existed. When I think of summer’s approach, my list grows exponentially. Growing season is near and that means my CSA will soon be starting. I love the weekly trips to the farm, meeting the people who grow my food and then getting to go out into the fields and pick it myself too.

Last summer I was working six to seven days a week for practically four months, so I didn’t get to enjoy it the way I wanted to. I’ve promised myself that this summer will be different. More time at the farm, more swimming holes, more forcing myself to be outdoors instead of just passing out in bed when I get home.

There’s movie nights at Water Street, the seating of which you practically need a bottle of wine to be able to endure. Last year I thought for sure my friend and I would be asked to leave the viewing of Young Frankenstein for this exact reason, but that’s all part of the fun. This year I plan on being one of those prepared people with a folding chair, blanket and cooler full of who-knows-what.

So sure, there are things I would change about this place and sometimes it does get tiresome, but there are some things I would never change because they’re what has kept me here. My jobs, my friends, the view when I drive down Main Street in evening and walks or bike rides to the various bridges on the rail trail.

Here’s the bottom line. I can handle pizza being thrown at me from a car full of college dudes (true story) during the first weekend of the semester if it means I can walk into at least half of the buildings in this town and be greeted by a smile from a familiar face. It’s the price we pay to live in a college town, but also the benefit of having a close community.

Marena Mitchell is a young artist and leisurely writer living in New Paltz. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an MFA in printmaking in 2013. You can find her other writings in her zines, on her blog