Dear Semester 64,
Allison here! Yes, the same Allison who wore shorts and a duck onesie to dinner because she needed to do laundry. And yes, the same Allison who insisted on doing almost every polar bear swim possible, even if she regretted it afterwards. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. And if this statement confuses you, I invite you to read on.
Upon receiving the email from Susan, telling us the news that we will not be returning to campus this semester, I cried. I’m not afraid to share that, because I’m sure many of you cried too. I cried because I missed my cabin mates, and sunsets at the waterfront. I cried because I so desperately wanted to be sitting in the Ellis room at the moment, holding a cup of tea at morning meeting (that I probably spilled on myself on the way from the Wallace, if we’re being honest). I cried because I have so many regrets—so many things that I kept saying I would do, but never did. Like cooking brunch, for example. I valued my Sunday mornings as days to sleep in, and kept telling myself “Oh, I’ll do it next weekend.” Until there was no next weekend.
I’m sure every member of Semester 64 has a regret of some kind or another, no matter how big or small that may be. So, once again, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. You are not alone in your grief, your regrets, your tears. I’m here with you, feeling exactly what you feel. Further, I’m sure that most everyone in Semester 64, faculty and staff included, would agree with me in that you are not alone.
And while you are not alone in your sorrows, you are also not alone in your joys. And although we had so much taken away from us, I want to take a moment to value what we had, what we have, what Maine Coast Semester has given us. Close your eyes (not right now, I mean after you read this) and remember nights star-tripping on the quad, afternoons spent taking pictures at the waterfront, and early mornings taking a quick, cold dip into the ocean. Together, we explored the ins and outs of the Maine coast; we learned about pitcher plants in a bog, identified bird calls, tasted yellow birch trees and hunted for mushrooms. We chopped wood, mopped the Wallace, and ran frantically from the pigs. We, Semester 64, created so many memories, and I don’t want COVID-19 to take that away from us. We will always have our memories of nights where we stayed up way too late, the cold mornings when we couldn’t get the wood stove to light, and the weekends spent lounging in hammocks, laughing and shivering till the sun went down.
I’m sure these stories brought up memories that you may not have even known you had. If you feel inclined, text a friend and remind them of a memory you share from our time at Chewonki, and while you’re at it, make sure you tell them that they are not alone.
We were never alone at Chewonki, and even though it feels that way, virtually, we are still not alone. We have a loving community that we cultivated through meetings in the Ellis room and meals in the Wallace. A loving, supportive community that continues to grow as we log on to Zoom each and every morning.
As I sign off, I want to remind you all that our story does not have to end here. Go outside (if it is safe to do so, of course) and identify a tree. And if you can’t do that, because the landscape where you are looks nothing like that on Chewonki Neck, don’t worry, you are not alone—I can’t identify any either, except for our famous redwood trees here in Northern California. Either way, find a tree to sit under, or sit by a window, and look outside, up at the sky, and remember: you are not alone.
All the best,