As summer draws to a close and fall appears now, I am grappling with the bittersweet knowledge that for myself and my fellow 2014 high school graduates, a chapter of our lives is coming to a close, and the end of an era is fast approaching.
On the one hand, I can’t help but look forward to the vast field of opportunities that lie ahead of me. But it is hard to resist the desire to pause for a moment, to recall some of my favorite memories from growing up in Newburyport.
And to to say goodbye to my favorite parts of the city that has been my home for the past eighteen years.
For one thing, I will miss the late-night ice cream runs my friends and I took to Simply Sweet or Haley’s for much-needed study breaks during finals. And I certainly won’t forget all the beautiful places that morning runs have taken me to, from Maudslay State Park to the waterfront and the rail trail.
It will be strange to wake up on foggy mornings without and the smell of the ocean rolling in from the harbor.
On the occasional snow days, I will reminisce about the times when my brother and I would trudge through the powder to go sledding at March’s hill. Warm summer afternoons will bring back memories of biking to Tendercrop with my family for picnics, and endless hours spent combing the beach for shells.
Wherever my life takes me, part of me will always yearn for the smell of beach roses, and the unobscured view of the night sky that can be seen from Plum Island. Crisp fall (or warm spring) afternoons won’t be the same without the sound of young childrens’ laughter emanating from the Brown School playground.
Reminiscing like this has reminded me of the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. In fact, here are a few of my favorite things, the kind of things I know I will miss: jumping rock-to-rock at Sandy point, combing the beach for tide pool treasures, sorting books at the Grand Old Booksale at the library, buying lunch at the Farmer’s market.
Yes, when I get sad, I’ll think about ambling past the Screening Room to check out the Indie film posters, catching a play at the Firehouse (starring one of my old preschool teachers!), singing in the teen choir at the UU, or browsing the shelves at Jabberwocky.
But most especially, when I get melancholy, wherever I am, I will picture the faces and hear the voices of my friends and acquaintances from Newburyport. They are what really make Newburyport feel like home to me.
While most of my classmates have headed off to college, I have chosen a different path. I will be spending most of the next year in South America, traveling and participating in various volunteer projects. I will be working with street children in Quito, rehabilitating rescued animals in the Amazon, and clearing trails on the Galápagos Islands. I chose to postpone college for a year in order to give myself some time to figure out what I want to do with my life, while doing some things that are meaningful to me.
I chose to travel to Ecuador because I love learning about other cultures, and I want to become fluent in Spanish. I have never been so far from home and I am both terrified and bursting with excitement. But I know, no matter where I am, no matter how much I might miss home, I have only to think about my friends, and I will be transported back to Newburyport.
It is true, what Oliver Wendell Holmes said; “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”