A few weekends ago we embarked on solos. This journey was particularly hard for me. I’ve never been good alone in the dark, or even in the dark in general. I’m the type of person who wakes someone up in the middle of the night to walk across Osprey circle to go to the bathroom with her. The dark has always been one of my biggest fears. A few weekends ago I had to face this fear head on.
On Friday afternoon just after lunch we all returned to our cabins to collect our big yellow waterproof bags holding many layers of clothes, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad. After making sure all of our gear was together we gathered to have a quick talk and then said our goodbyes. Our cabin huddle in a circle and each of us handed each other a letter, varying in size, that we wrote to the other 7 girls in our cabin for each person to read on their solos. Then, along with my advisor and advisees we headed towards pinky point, which is on the southeast end of the neck. I surprisingly wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be as I was dropped off, my advisor hugged me goodbye and I began to set up my tarp and sleeping bag
Friday night was the hardest for me, I found myself jumping at every little noise I heard. And surprisingly, I found out that leaves are a lot louder when they fall on your tarp than you think they would be! I spent the whole night lying awake scared of the things around me and just kept waiting until sunrise so I could feel safe. All I kept thinking to myself was that I couldn’t do this for another night, and there would be no way I could make it through solos. As the sun started to rise I noticed men out on the water before me, worming, and birds flying through the air. I stepped out onto the rocks at my sight and just sat, watching the sunrise and the tides start to move. I felt at peace. I spent that day doing nothing. I brought knitting, books and a journal along with me for my solo and barely even looked at them. I decided half way through the day that I should do something besides sit on this small rock the whole day.
So, I grabbed my envelope full of all the letters from my cabin-mates. As I read each one I couldn’t help but keep a smile on my face. There was one particular letter I read where one of my good friends said how she felt like we all barely knew each other. At first I didn’t know whether to think of this as a good or bad thing. Sure we don’t know each others back home like or backgrounds, but we know each other and what we love, how we act, and who we really are. It made me realize every person in my cabin knows me. At home people know my background, they judge me by my friends, school, family, and actions. Here the people only know me for me because that is all they’re exposed to. They aren’t influenced by others talking to them about me or by rumors they hear. We all just know each other from being around each other and learning about one another. How rare is it to find a place where people only know you for you? It’s certainly not something I easily come by. Reading those letters on solos made me grateful to be in a place like Chewonki; where community, family and true friendships exist. As soon as I read each of their letters I knew there was no way I would go home that night. If those girls believe in me and believe I can make it through the weekend then I will, just for them.
Returning that weekend was the best feeling, knowing I could be alone in the dark on my own and I was completely fine was a great feeling. Going to that first meal and seeing all the people I missed made me so incredibly happy. And the best part was thanking the girls that encouraged me to stay on solos. The first night back I slept better than I ever had in months, surrounded by people who truly know me, a woodstove, my homey bed, and me. Solos have a different impact on everyone. For some people they hate it and for others it is a life changing experience. For me, this experience made me realize how happy I am to be here and be able to spend this precious time with people who I truly care about and people who truly care about me. I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.
-Lambeth Allen, Charlotte Country Day School, North Carolina