O ne day, when I was bemoaning my quality problem of missing the Vineyard when I went home to Honolulu and missing Honolulu when I returned to my Island home on the Vineyard, a good friend said to me, “Dana, why don’t you look on this as your having two beautiful rooms in a very large house and you are just moving from one room to the other?“ No one ever said a wiser thing to me; no one ever reminded me quite so simply and clearly of how fortunate I am and of the gratitude I should bring to my days. I am leaving Edgartown soon to build a nest in Nu’uanu valley, where my mothers and fathers lived for generations . . . the land is beautiful, the jungle lush and sweet with flowers, the auwai [stream] full of valley rains. I go with a heart full of anticipation. And I shall carry the fabric of the Vineyard in my skin.
I will recall early morning bike rides to South Beach at first light, red-winged blackbirds flashing across gold wheat at Katama Farm, the airfield silent in light winds. I will pause at the town landing and see clearly again the new cut opened by a spring storm, the new path to the sea exactly burning with the morning sun, with promise . . . on each point fishermen in silhouette. Muscle memory will feel the lift of a friend’s sloop finding its trim line and the looping arc of a skillet tossed in the pulling ring at the agricultural fair in August.
And laughter. And song. And the warmth of working together in community for conservation and healing, hand in hand.
And I am depositing all of this in my emotional and spiritual bank. In the great scheme of things, a 30-year flash in the pan . . . but a long era deep in my heart.
I got sober here and later found serenity. I have friends here who will always be in my marrow. I will miss the pure joy of tennis and laughter every Friday morning with some of the most wonderful women on earth. And I will walk with a full heart late at night in Edgartown on Christmas Eve and wonder on the sky full of stars, the air cold and seeping through layers of wool, the Gay Head Lighthouse fresnel lens refracting red and white beams on School street snow . . . and deeper in the middle of winter, as if alone on the planet with the moon’s trail on the harbor, I will wear the cloud of breath like a gossamer shawl, insubstantial, gone in an instant. And then, like a miracle, the sudden appearance of snowdrops and a whisper of green on a brave, beautiful dogwood.
Where I am going, to the green valley and warm floral air of Hawaii, we do not say goodbye. Rather, we embrace and say “a hui hou” which means “until we meet again.”
I leave the Vineyard with a grateful heart. And I pray that the conscience and stewardship of this fragile Island that drew me here in the first place will flourish and guide all who are fortunate enough to live here. Take care of this place. Take care of each other. Forgive. Love deeply. Hold on tight. Let go. Love.
Dana Anderson is a former Edgartown selectman and finance committee member, former president of Vineyard House and former co-owner of Bickerton and Ripley books in Edgartown. Tomorrow she moves from Edgartown to Hawaii.