It seems unreal.
I lounge in the Flintstones, laughing with my cabinmate Whitney as Kate piles on top of us. Peter is playing guitar, Evon and Stella are knitting, and everyone else is talking and laughing with ease. It’s just another Friday afternoon, but there will be no other exactly like it — never these same people doing these exact same actions at this exact same point in time. Chewonki is filled with a lot of moments like this.
I glance up to the calendar on the wall to see who the Plato is for tomorrow, and that’s when I notice it. We’re on the third, and final, sheet. I remember at the beginning of the semester when I looked at the colorful cluster of days, and I couldn’t fathom how each of those squares would become a day, and seven of those squares would represent a week, and all of those clusters of squares somehow would become my semester. I couldn’t begin to imagine all of the distinct memories that each white square outlined in blue with orange numbers would contain. It was exciting to have this great unknown up on the wall which was a constant reminder of the amazing experiences to come.
Now, gazing up at the calendar, I don’t want to define the semester by how long we’ve been here, the fact that we’re on the third sheet, or the number of white squares with blue borders and orange numbers that we’ve passed. Now that we are on the last three lines in the calendar, I especially don’t want to think that those few 19 squares left are going to be all I have before I have to leave. You can’t take this experience and categorize it in this manner, manipulating it into being orderly and even and matter-of-fact. Time doesn’t work like that anyway.
Our semester likes to joke that there’s a “Chewonki Time Warp” that exists when you’re here, where the days seem long and filled, the weeks fly by, it feels like we’ve been here forever, but the semester is over before you know it. I don’t know if this is true, but there is something about Chewonki time that is unique, and that cannot be described by a regular representation of time.
I’ve come to realize that just as the calendar is not our semester, the photos on the wall or on Flickr don’t represent who we are or the people we have become here, either. They may be representations of our appearances or they may capture a single behavioral action that may point to some trait of our personality, but they will never represent the people that we have been here. The reality is that no one will know what being a Chewonki Semester Student in Semester 56 is like, aside from the 41 people who will be leaving here in just 19 days. Pictures and markers and paper and pixels on a screen and weeks and days on a wall cannot encompass all of the laughter, the goofiness, the sadness, the struggles, and the snippets of pure bliss and happiness that come with being at Chewonki. These representations can never become the midnight cabin dance parties, knitting five hats in a week, blasting throwback Justin Bieber at 10:13 pm on a Saturday night, stressing about Species Quizzes, racing to be the first to the dessert counter, the songs that will always belong to our semester, the walks to the points, spraying each other in the dish room, the strange obsession with toast and tea that every student seems to have, the excitement for mail and packages, not showering for days on end and looking your worst and everyone still loving you the same and possibly even more, talking about relationships and sex with teachers and treating each other as equally flawed yet completely lovable human beings, the fight to scrape or not to scrape during meals, Orville’s many different voices, Izzy’s relationship with her water bottle, Amy’s purring, Mike’s chair tilt and the way he smells the food he cannot eat, Kimberley’s love of hard-boiled eggs and of changing her hairstyle, Tati’s incredibly witty comments, Folagbade’s hilarious and thought-provoking questions, Whitney’s obsession with Trader Joe’s and dried fruit, Meg’s preparedness for anything, Kenny’s love of Hamilton and The Panthers, Becca and Lilly’s beautiful lullaby duets during check-in, Emily and Maggie’s old man voices, Molly’s absolutely contagious laugh and wicked dance skills, Eric’s passion for OAP and the way he dots his i’s with hearts, the inside jokes, the Paranoia games, the deep conversations, the walks, or the way we all hug each other all of the time because we cannot contain our happiness with and love for each other. These tiny quirks and snippets of time only scrape the surface of what Chewonki is.
As I look around at everyone, laughing and talking and smiling and just being, I am reminded of how these moments — these oh so precious moments — won’t exist forever, and will soon be a distant memory. But I think that’s what makes them so special: the way that our semester can never be truly defined or understood by anyone other than ourselves, the way that all of the representations and depictions of our semester will never be our semester, and the way that each of us will always carry with us the time that can never be categorized and the memories that can never be recreated — the real Chewonki Semester 56.
-Sienna, Home School, CA