As a storyteller and a bit of a romantic, I’m interested in how and why people land on the Vineyard. My first job after moving to the Island in 2021 was a gathering place that delivered the gossip before it even happened. That’s how in-the-know my co-workers were — and if it didn’t happen, they’d make it happen, or at least claim it had.

It was a lumberyard serving 2x4s with a side helping of hilarity or horror, often both. I was intrigued by the accents, the distances traveled, the stories of home. What brought these people to this Island?

Daily, I’d invent tales about the customers. There was one man who always wore a peculiar hat, spoke in a soft, Irish accent and his company name was particularly melodious — very fitting for a man who could talk about downspouts for an hour without tiring. As he wished me a good day, I blurted out, “Why did you come here?”

“To the Island?” he asked.

He was quiet. Thoughtful.

“Why does anyone come far from convenience, predictability and stability? Love. It was love.”

My co-workers have jokingly told me they, too, came for love, not necessarily for their own spouses, but it still counts. Other customers claimed memories, but that’s a form of love too, revisiting a time in your life that is safe and heartbreakingly new and open. It’s a time of first swims in a cold, blue sea, a horizon line bobbing and swathed in sailcloth and sky. What’s not to remember? What’s not to love?

I came for love, too. And beauty. And a new life.

I discovered the Vineyard 20 years ago when my boys were little and scrappy and I was trying to find my place in the world as a divorced mother of two. I had flirted with the Outer Banks, got my shoes wet at Old Faithful and nearly drowned in the Mackenzie River, but I’d yet to find my soul fit.

My now-husband, who is a bit older than I am, discovered the Island in the 1970s, when it was full of misfits, rebels, lost souls and artists — all of which he fancied himself to be, but needed to be those things with a steady paycheck. He became a writer and creative writing professor and after we married we made a life in Virginia and he summited his own Everest, which was me and my boys. But I also scribbled on a stained piece of paper titled 2004 goals — home on the Vineyard someday.

Three years ago, when my husband and I packed up our Virginia house, our glorious 100-year-old farmhouse with the dicey tin roof we hoped didn’t collapse on the interested buyer’s head, I sifted through my kid’s childhood and my own soot where I found the scrap of paper I’d written “Vineyard House” as a goal.

I couldn’t believe it. I’m not a goal setter. How could I have known, dared or dreamed of this nearly two decades ago? I’d never lived outside of Virginia. I had kids. I had friends. I had a color scheme. They knew me at the McDonald’s drive-thru by name. I told anyone who would listen, “I’m moving to the Vineyard,” and then I’d burst into tears. I knew I had wanted to live on the Vineyard, but I’d wanted it from the safety of Virginia and 20 years of longing.

When my huband and I arrived by Subaru and sea, our little terrier, Cyrus, perched on the console, our new apartment wasn’t ready yet so we moved into a rental on the Lagoon, apparently right onto a family of skunks and a group of rats having a turf war in the crawl space under our bed. Cyrus, ears perked and in alarm stance, dug, barked and guarded that floor all winter, before collapsing of exhaustion in May. There was no heat, or heat we could afford. I spent that first winter driving around neighborhoods in my car for hours with the heat cranked up and all the ducts blowing on my face.

And yet this was love. This was my soul fit, I’d remind myself. This was my husband’s retirement dream. What the professor didn’t know, what he couldn’t possibly know as I carried on about the cold, missing my kids and fountain Diet Coke, was that I came for him. I came for him because he does what love does — he surprises me, makes me laugh and he makes me go into that cold ocean water. He gives me a new set of firsts. My initial response to anything he suggests is always, “No,” unless it’s dinner or a fire in the fireplace. He continues to ask, lovingly wearing me down. Now I’m in the high end of middle age and discovering salsa dancing.

Together we are creating a new life in this achingly-beautiful place. We go on long strolls through the woods, observe birds and climb over thickets. Thickets. Now there’s a word I hadn’t used in 20 years.

In my older years, I’m now becoming outdoorsy. Outdoorsy, for me. As we start our third winter on the Vineyard, I know my places, my spots. I know what dirt roads, hidden entrances and crevices to go down.

My Island story began with a faded blue rowboat resting in the reeds and my young children running barefoot into the water. My children are grown now and I’m growing, too.

My professor tells me I’m tripping over metaphors but I assure him, this place right here, this is where I discovered the sun.

Robyn Goodwin lives in Vineyard Haven.