Leaving Chewonki was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Though being home over Thanksgiving break was a wonderful chance for me to catch up with my family and friends, my mind and body ached for the people and the place that I had left behind. However, coming back was what made all of that pain completely worth while.
When I first arrived back on campus, not many people had yet congregated. I ran to those who had arrived and we hugged enthusiastically. Isabel, Kieran, Tavo and I eventually decided that, instead of waiting for people to come to us, we would go to the airport to pick up some of the other students. Thus began the hour long drive to the Portland airport where we swarmed the New Yorkers, greeting them with hugs and exclamations of happiness. Once loaded, seated and buckled down, we headed back to ‘the Wonk.’
By the time we returned, many people had arrived back on campus and were gathering in the foyer of the dining hall. Students and teachers alike were going from person to person, embracing, laughing and asking questions about peoples’ breaks. Everyone had bright shining eyes and big toothy smiles as they reveled in the joy of being reunited. Excitedly, I pushed my way into the throng where I found myself being thrown into group hugs, covered in kisses and actually lifted off my feet by my fellow Wonkers. There was no awkwardness or self-consciousness, just the blatant delight of being in each others’ presence. Never had I felt so complete.
Later that night, while stargazing on the lower field, I thought about why I needed these people so much; why did it hurt so much to leave them? Lying there under the frosty sky, with my friends all holding one another, I finally came to this conclusion: we are all pieces of a whole. We fit! It’s as simple as that! Like a puzzle, Chewonki is made up of many pieces, each with its own purpose and value. We are only complete when we are holding and supporting one another as each of us finds our place in the puzzle. With that thought in mind, I hugged Claire (who was lying next to me) a little tighter and let my thoughts drift up into the cosmos.
I don’t think that it will hurt as much when I leave a second time. No matter where I go, I will always find comfort in the knowledge that I fit somewhere; that I have a family who will love me and support however far apart we may drift. I will always be a piece of the whole that is Chewonki.
-Katie Burns, ME