On the Vineyard I can wake up at sunrise, walk into town and go fishing without a soul worrying about my safety or my whereabouts. I can feel safe swimming in the ocean here, even though I am deathly afraid of sharks. I can approach any of the few strangers there are to me on the Island with a smile and expect the same in return, rather than needing to be cautious. I love the comfort and security I feel here.
I can walk onto the ferry that crosses over to the Chappaquiddick Beach Club where I can swim in the ocean and eat never-ending food bought on my parents’ account. I can buy fudge from Murdick’s or ice cream from Mad Martha’s. I can stroll down to the Quarterdeck with my cousins to get fish and chips, go sit on the docks, and watch all the sailors and motor boaters rush by. My brother and I can drive into Oak Bluffs and go on the carousel with the brass rings that you are supposed to try to grab as you go around that we used to love as children. We can cruise around looking at all the bright colored gingerbread houses. When we drive back into Edgartown, where we live, we can appreciate the distinct difference in these houses, which are mostly white with dark blue shutters. I love the endless places I can explore and adventure to here.
On the Vineyard I can go to the yacht club and socialize with my grandparents and their friends. I can discuss with my grandmother her life as a model and Japanese author. I can visit my godfather, Perk, and listen to him tell stories about fishing and of when he went to Williams College with my parents. We walk down to the beach and brush our hair out of our faces from the ocean wind as we look for a decent spot for him to teach me how to flyfish. He then takes me to look at my parents’ first house here, one of the only yellow houses on the whole Island. I can go with my Uncle Bart and my cousins to Dairy Queen at eleven o’clock at night and then walk back with my uncle, talking about the adventures he and my dad used to have here when they were little as my cousins drive the car back to the house in the pouring rain. I love the ties I have to this Island.
On the Vineyard my dad wakes me up at one in the morning with blankets and sweatshirts and tells me to get in the car with him. He takes me for a ride in the Fiat Jolly, a little red, white and blue car we have with no doors and a little cloth layer on top as the roof. He drives me down a long gravel road through the woods. We visit my grandfather’s grave. We sit on the dewy grass until the sun begins to rise and then we go to the nearest beach and sit in the lifeguard’s chair and watch the sun rise over the ocean. Once the sun is up we walk up and down the beach a few times, holding hands in peaceful silence. On the way home we pass bike riders and farms of cows. we see families loading up their cars for a trip to the beach and American flags waving from every house in anticipation of the fourth of July. We arrive back at home just in time for the others to be getting out of bed and bustling around the kitchen. We have one last big hug before we detach our hands from one another and silently enter the house, leaving the divinity of the morning beyond words. I live on the Vineyard because it is full of unexpected beauty.
Olivia Partington, age 15, lives in Seattle, Wa., and is a seasonal visitor to Edgartown.