She had gone to The Point with them and along the way they had stopped to marvel at the ice that had frozen over the inlet even though they could only see the edges in the dark showing the girl snow was coming in the days ahead, days that would be treasured dearly as her time to depart was nearing. The girl feared it had been too short and that the last 14 days would be gems that she would forever want to hold on to, not let go of or forget.
But it was not over, because the girl had not left that moment yet; rather, she was still living in it, holding onto it for all it was worth, appreciating the chilly air and warmth of the spirit surrounding her. At The Point, she felt the sense of community, the warmth of the dear friends on either side of her as they stared wide-eyed at the vast and illuminated sky above them, at the universe surrounding her that she had not yet fully entered into, but that she had begun to explore when she had left her seemingly already molded life in search of a new beginning, academics, friends, and perhaps an escape that she realized she was in much need of, where she felt accepted and motivated, which she had found in the last few months during here time at Chewonki. And the girl understood now. She hadn’t realized how much she had needed this change or how greatly it would move her, but at that moment she ceased to feel far from the place she had been raised, and even though she was hundreds of miles form where she had spent the last 16 years, she felt at home, more than just her surrounding and the community she had become a part of, but also within herself. She had found what she knew she wanted in life;
happiness was what she was searching for and what she wondered if she would find in both places. So the girl thought: Should I go to School Year Abroad in France or Maine Coast Semester in Maine? She had not truly wanted to be referred by either program and she had not been, she simply wanted the decision to be an easier one. And while she was thankful she had been accepted to both programs, some little voice in her head told her I wish I had been turned down by one of them so I could avoid making this hard decision, a decision she had realized was the hardest decision she had ever had to make, but she was proud of having the ability to make it because it was the beginning of a new era, an era where she knew she would control much of her life as would be seen when she went off two college in a little over two years.
Both programs sounded wonderful and she was sure both were capable of changing her life. As she lay on the threadbare cloth thin with ritual midnight stargazes and surrounded by leafy vines carrying plump rounded bundles of grapes, she wondered; have I made the right decision? She liked it here. She was home. Each summer, the girl’s family traveled here, where they spent a few weeks visiting friends and family they had not seen in a year and returning at the end of the day to have hors d’oeuvres in her grandmother’s old stoned-in courtyard. The scratchy weeds grew up through the warm stones between the rows of vines, and the smooth stones that had been turned and rearranged after centuries of French callused hands, that in recent years had transformed themselves into items of monstrous metal machinery, had soaked in the Mediterranean sun all day and continued to keep these strong and gnarly plants warm in the cool evening air just as the vignerons had hoped, keeping the stargazers warm as well, one of whom skittishly pondered her future, wondering whether she had made the wrong decision, whether she should have decided to stay here for a year, rather than go to Maine, but looking back on that night five months ago, she could positively say,
she had not made the wrong decision. These were the words she had repeatedly muttered to her self in reassurance as she announced her surprise her unexpected decision to 32 family members at Easter, wrote an appreciation, yet refusal letter to School Year Abroad , told her friends, teachers, and the figure most difficult to address: herself. That night on The Point, in the cold crisp air full of future snow, it seemed as if memories of uncertainty were equal to the many stars. She would never know for sure what it would have been like if she had decided to go to France, just as she would never go out and touch the distant stars, but that night they seem to twinkle differently. That night they shone and shot across the sky like she had never seen them before telling her she didn’t need to go out and touch them to be reassured she had done the right thing, because they had touched her. They were falling stars just as her falling tears, and she knew she didn’t want to be anywhere else at that moment. She was happy and at home.
-Annelise Haskell, Washington, DC