August 28, 2019 – Day 1
I live in South Hall. The words sound weird on my tongue, foreign and unfamiliar. I have to think hard when people ask me, “Where’s your home?” The answer seems easy enough. “I’m from New York City.” “I meant your Chewonki home.” I stood for a moment unsure how to respond. What’s it called again? It’s the cabin separated from the rest, in it’s own little neighborhood, built on stilts and surrounded by forest. I’m sitting in here now actually. It’s dark, the trees block any moonlight from entering the windows. The 7 of us have been talking, sitting in a circle on the ground, unsure of what to say and what not to. We’re going to know everything about each other eventually, so what’s the harm in sharing? I’m nervous. These are my roommates for the next four months, and I doubt that we will ever actually click. As of right now, the only thing we have in common is the roof over our heads and fear in our eyes, questioning every decision that led us to this point. Emilia, Harper, Erica, Molly, Ruby and Audrey… I’m going to have to learn those names. I miss home and I miss my friends, but I have to keep an open mind. I want to let go of my filter, my expectations, my judgement. I wonder who we’ll be in four months.
September 13, 2019 – Day 17
We had a really nice talk tonight in the cabin. We all sat on Molly’s squeaky bed and laughed until our stomachs hurt and we remembered that tomorrow is a school day. The only word I have to describe how I feel right now is warm, like holding a cup of peppermint tea in your hands, or being in the center of a Semester 63 hug. Talking to each other is becoming normal, layers are peeling away. I think I’m home. I hope.
October 27, 2019 – Day 60
I am eternally grateful to be back inside the heated 4 walls of South Hall. Solos were reflective and all, but very cold, and the silence was far more deafening then the shrieks of 7 teenage girls scrambling to clean their cabin before Susan comes to inspect. Dry bags engulfed the little square footage we have, and clothes were flung everywhere. Our trash was overflowing, and our cabin smelled even funkier than usual. But we were happy. Happy to hear each other laugh, happy to tell stories, and happy to be together again. Not sleeping under the same roof for two nights felt wrong and unnatural, and I was so ready to come home. And to have a fire and a hot meal.
November 21, 2019 – Day 86
The seasons have changed and we’ve changed with them. We’ve seen the green of summer, the oranges and reds of fall, and campus blanketed in peaceful white snow. I live in South Hall. I know the walk there so well I can do it in the dark. Follow the boardwalk down the first set of stairs, don’t slip. Keep walking past the bird feeders and that one Eastern Gray Squirrel that always seems to be there. Take 9 awkward steps down to our neighborhood. Smell the smoke of the wood stoves and see it rise from the chimneys. Make your way past Binnacle to our doorstep. Inside you’ll find 7 of us, who can read each other like books. Emilia will be making everyone laugh until they cry. Harper will be building us a fire or doing ab workouts. Erica will be pulling out the best one liners you will ever hear. Molly will be dancing, the cringe-worthy kind of course. Ruby will be reading or giving everyone hugs. Audrey will be causing some sort of commotion, probably singing out of key. I will probably be trying to harmonize with her while also singing out of key. Since the first week we’ve decorated, adorning our walls with polaroids and fairy lights. We’ve filled our single room with a collection of moments, frozen in time, for us to keep locked away in a jar forever. The love that we have together cannot be contained within the 4 walls of our cabin, and I wish I had the words to describe it. We have built a home in our own little corner of the world, called South Hall.
Talia Skaistis, The Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, NY