“…And here’s our 3 pound lobster, flown in fresh daily from Maine!” The Morton’s Steakhouse waitress smiled grandly as she held out a live lobster, whose pincers were constrained by bands of tape. “Oh, that’s funny! Elisabeth was freshly flown from Maine as well! Her flight landed just this afternoon!” My mom lightly squeezed my hand and planted a soft kiss on my cheek. I pulled away from her, watching the ‘displaced’ lobster as the cart slowly rolled across the carpeted floor and vanished in the kitchen. As I scanned the menu, I lingered over the lobster bisque, considering the ironies of ordering lobster in Chicago when I had yet to eat one in Maine. Rather than being excited to eat the famous Maine lobster, I was turned off by the tremendous distance the lobster had to travel.
My perspective towards life outside of Chewonki Neck has changed immensely since I’ve been at Maine Coast Semester. Normally, I would have jumped on an opportunity to eat lobster, but I couldn’t order a meal that required the unnecessary use of non-renewable energy to bring it to my Midwestern plate. Besides, there are many local foods that would be equally enjoyable, for the idea of eating Maine lobster in Chicago in March is somewhat questionable in itself.
All in all, spring break has felt very strange. Despite having lived in the same house with the same routines almost my entire life, I look at even the smallest things such as the light bulbs we use, our source of heat, and the food we eat with a whole new perspective. Also, because I’ve grown used to the perpetual glow of the woodstove and continuous chatter of my seven cabin mates, nights alone in my room feel darker and quieter than usual. I miss cuddling and squeezing onto one bed to share whispers of stories with my friends. Often, we snuggle together for warmth in the cold cabin and stifle our laugher so as not to keep anyone awake.
I am already looking forward to returning to Chewonki for the second half of the semester, but the experience will surely be different, especially with the absence of the Social Room. Each room and space has come to have its own significance at Chewonki, for the developed area of The Neck is so small that we all have memories in every corner of every building. For me, the Social Room is an English classroom but not in the traditional sense. Rather than sitting at the table, our class circles together in the couch area, which is perfect for our discussion-based class.
While we’re gone this week, the Social Room will be demolished as part of Wallace Center’s renovation. As a last tribute to this room, we haphazardly covered the walls with graffiti, scribbles, and sketches the night before spring break. The drawings were crazy, with no apparent significance to an outsider, ranging from underwater aquariums to ninjas and dragons with swirling designs and cabin names filling the spaces in between. The experience wasn’t about creating a fine-tuned work of art but instead about reinforcing an already strong sense of community through our combined creativity and laughter. Hopefully, the months we have left together will be filled with the same spontaneity, joy, and learning opportunities that we have shared so far.
-Elisabeth Ward, Winnetka, IL