Chewonki has been something brown – the wood of the cabins, my work pants, the cow I milked every morning for two weeks. It’s been something green and then yellow and then red as the trees have discarded their summer clothes. It’s been something grey as the mist walks across the lower field in the mornings and as the clouds excuse themselves from the sky to reveal something blue, and the stars. It’s been something soft (brand new flannels) and something hard (falling on the boardwalk) and something so full of love that I can hardly stop smiling.
That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult at times. I can’t sell this place as somewhere that magically solves all the issues of high school and the struggle of getting to know yourself. But all the good (and all the good people) that I’m surrounded with makes these times somehow dealable.
At Chewonki, there have been all the incredible things you’ve heard about — the early mornings when on farm chores, the work done around campus (as I write this I’m watching students carry buckets of kindling across the quad), and the incredible community that can really only be described as a giant family, with all that entails. But there has been plenty that isn’t advertised. Here, I’ve had the chance to get to know myself better, to explore the somewhat frightening and sometimes pleasantly surprising corners of my mind and recesses of my heart, something that I had never really thought about at length before my time on the neck. I’ve spent my fair share of unrequired hours in the woods, conversing with the trees, scratching their likenesses into the pages of my journal, and wondering about the myriad paths their roots take beneath the heavy, dark soil. I’ve had the gift of brilliant stars almost every night, and of friends as brilliant as the stars, though kinder and less aloof. I’ve woken up early on Sundays to dig my hands into block printing ink, smudge graphite, and mix colors out of water and paint, alone and perfectly fine with it in the art room, these times immediately followed by brunch, bright and warm and friendly and full of people (and always so tasty). This is my Chewonki, my newly named Maine Coast Semester, my home.
I’m not the biggest fan of endings. I’ve read the copyright pages of books when I’m finished with them, wanting to be able to feel that I have neglected not a single letter in the entire work. And then I have stared at the front cover for long minutes until I must realize that I cannot read it for the first time again. And I walked onto campus here hoping for the same thing — to get to know each person intimately, to walk every trail (and not-trail), to recognize the pattern of people’s steps on the boardwalks so I could guess who was coming into the cabin before they opened the door, to neglect not a single part of this experience that was possible for me to have. And I know that at the end, I will look at all these people, these friendships, the art I’ve created and the challenges I’ve overcome, until I must realize that I cannot stay, and I cannot be sixteen forever, and that the rest of my life will not be lived out at Chewonki. But the fact that I want to, deeply and viscerally and with my entire being, says what I cannot put into words about this place.
St. Paul’s School