You Know I’m bACK Like I Never Left
Yikes. It’s certainly been awhile since we caught up, hasn’t it? The last we chatted I was still reveling in the glow of birthday gifts and sunny beach days. And now, here we are – living in a perpetual state of oversized sweaters and nonstop Hallmark movies where no doubt a big city curmudgeon learns the true meaning of Christmas (usually on a tree farm – big ups to Canada and their tax breaks for the film industry).
The biggest news ’round these parts is that I am writing to you from the continental U.S. Yes, that’s right – after four and a half years on a little elbow of sand called Nantucket (or ACK depending on how freely you like to throw around abbreviations), I booked a one-way ticket on the slow boat headed for America. There were so many reasons for this move, and it was definitely a long-time coming. I don’t want to bore you with all the specifics, but the underlying issue that Steve and I had been aware of for quite some time is that life on Nantucket (for us, at least) wasn’t sustainable for the long-term.
Some people make it work for years, they do the shuffle – move in and out of housing they can (sort of) afford depending on the season, or like us, live in a very small space (a friend once told me he would have murdered his wife if he had to live in our studio apartment with her) with no stove and no hopes of ever being able to afford anything else. For us, it just wasn’t the life we wanted to live anymore, and having an ocean in between you and most of the things you love (like TARGET… I mean, my friends and family) gets old eventually.
People refer to certain life situations as bittersweet, and that is 100% what I can say this decision was. There were a lot of great things about that island, from the beautiful sunsets to the opportunities to do things that you could never do in the “real” world (Steve was a DJ on the radio and I got to be on TV – things we probably would never have been able to do anywhere else). And depending on how you feel about it, the local community vibe, complete with town meetings, people that know your name on the streets – it was all very Stars Hollow-ish (including the lack of privacy). Not to mention it’s freaking gorgeous. Seriously, an Instagrammer’s dream. The blogger in me fears I will never ever get as many “likes” as I did living on Nantucket.
But by far, the best thing that Nantucket gave us was the people. Most of my friends I met through my job, because when you live on an island and you work your ass off, they’re the ones you spend the most time with. They become family when you feel like you’re alone, drifting out in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately, most of us knew that the way we were living wasn’t forever, with a lot of us residing in dorm-style staff housing due to the lack of affordable options on Nantucket. In a lot of ways, it was awesome. The people you loved the most were just always there, kind of like on Friends. We often spent all day at the office together, then worked after hours for programs, and we would still choose to have dinner with each other or go out for a drink later. Many weekends I would roll myself up the stairs at the duplex I lived in, still in my pajamas, to recount our stories from the night before and make plans for the day. Schooner was the one really living the high-life, man. He had more dog moms than he could count.
With all of us being vaguely around the same age, this thing started to happen where we all realized that as strong as our bond was, it would never be enough to keep us all in a lifestyle that wasn’t attainable for us. No matter what stage we were at, all of us wanted more. Houses, better jobs, kids, the ability to travel – things that couldn’t happen here.
So for the last year, every few months or so, we lost one of our “group.” Our favorite off-season activity was this thing called Fight Night at Backyard Barbeque, one of our favorite restaurants. They partnered with Cisco Brewers and every Wednesday night, it was a challenge of beer vs. wine, wine vs. spirits, etc., with four courses to accompany each round of beverages (rest assured, they were small pours. But we still often had to hang out a bit before we drove home!). Steve was their best customer – the first year they offered it, he attended every single one. Seriously, they gave him a t-shirt at the end.
At the height of our time on Nantucket, we had a standing reservation for fifteen people practically every single week. The first deflectors left in September. Then there was the holidays, and we lost a few more in the months after. By the time that season of Fight Nights finished, we were down to four of us at a table. Don’t get me wrong – we were so happy for those who figured out their exit strategy, who found a good enough reason to finally make the jump, book the boat, take a chance on something new. But boy did it suck to lose those people that became woven in the fabric of your life every day. Things like this don’t happen other places. You know why? Because your friends move a town, or even a state away – and you can still drive to see them! In addition, part of the cache of Nantucket is that it attracts really interesting people from all over the world. From our “group,” there are now people living in Indiana, California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Shang freaking Hai – not exactly places you can easily get to.
Losing our tribe wasn’t everything, but it sure made all the other parts of life that weren’t perfect a lot more obvious once they were gone. These people were an amazing distraction from the things about Nantucket that we didn’t enjoy. So this fall, Steve and I became some of the last people in our “group” to leave… well, correction. I left.
Yes, you read correctly. After all this, Steve is still on Nantucket, and I’m well… I’m hanging out in the good old U.S.A. Steve has a great gig there with his boss and still lots of work, therefore $$$ happening, so it’s hard to give that up. I got a job in the South Shore in an industry I’m super passionate about, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So we packed up my stuff, and I left my guy and my pup behind on the rock. My inlaws were nice enough to take me in, and for the last month I’ve just been working, getting used to having a forty-five minute commute (I drove just over a mile to work everyday before), and figuring out our next steps so our little family can be reunited on land.
We’re trying to make the best of it. Steve has come to visit a few times with Schooner and I’ve been back once so far. There’s still an apartment to be packed and lots of loose ends to tie up, but we’re going to make it work. And of course, we’re already planning our next Nantucket reunion 🙂 #TribeTrip2018
All in all, I am so grateful for the time I spent on Nantucket. When I interviewed there, following the Nemo blizzard and getting on the first boat that had run in days, I had no idea what was in store for me. I was convinced that I was unqualified to work in a museum (which to be honest, I really kind of was) but the great thing about Nantucketers is they’re willing to take a chance on people. And trust me, the people and the island will test you. There were so many times I cried or I wanted to give up, thinking that Nantucket was going to chew me up and spit me back out the sea. But it didn’t. I spent four and a half years at an amazing institution that taught me what it truly means to be a professional. I stretched my creativity in new ways. I experienced so much joy and a bit of heartache too. But most of all, I grew up. And now I’m ready to grow some more, but in a new place where there’s a bit more opportunity to have some of those real-life experiences.
So thank you to everyone who in some way, shaped this experience for us. Not many people get to say “I lived on Nantucket year-round” – seriously, it is quite the conversation starter.
Speaking of words, there really aren’t enough to describe our lives the past few years. So of course, I avoided gathering up all my earthly belongings and instead spent hours making this video of as many of the high points as I could squeeze into four minutes. This could have gone on for hours, but I know we’ve all got things to do. Like packing.
P.S. There’s so much more I could say about the island than would fit in one post. I’m going to do some follow ups on my favorite experiences, shops and restaurants, and more post-Nantucket life updates. Stay tuned!