My niece came through town yesterday with a car full of stuff and a head full of dreams.
Lack of sleep looked much better on her than it does on me.
She was radiant.
Today, in the pouring rain she will head further north to where the road ends at a dock.
Where the land ends at the water, a boat will be there for her.
She will have too many groceries, too much stuff and a shivering dog.
“How was your year?” Eric, the captain, will ask.
“Great,” she will smile, beam and glow. “It is just beginning.”
On the Island one of the first questions people ask each other is “How long are you here for?”
This has become an anxiety-ridden question for me; I often have “Only a weekend,” as my reply.
People stay for a week, two weeks, a month, or two months, some come every weekend.
A small fortunate group come out off- season to hunt, or in spring to plant.
Going out to the Island casts out your previous life fast.
You enter your own past and a sense a possible future. “This year we are going to …”
The possibilities are endless unless you need spare parts or food.
Then you need to go ashore.
Going ashore feels different once you have been on the outer Islands.
You return a changed person.
Your worn and comfortable clothes that hang to dry in the Island sun are merely tattered in the slick glare of a bank lobby and even a hardware store offers faint refuge.
You get a little feral on the outer Islands and that is part of the goal.
You get to shed off a tired skin and emerge, salt scrubbed and renewed from the frigid ocean.
This year my niece is in transition.
She has moved from the bottom of the country, Texas, to the top, which is Maine.
She is starting a new business and will have a different relationship with a familiar place.
Her future is wide open and she can feel the breeze.
Last night after dinner we hugged.
Not a goodbye, I will see her again soon.
I began my litany of work and travel schedule and conflicts, to apologize for where my time goes.
“No worries,” she smiled, again that beautiful smile, “I am here.”