This Was the Place for Me

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When I got out of the car after six hours of driving from northern New Jersey to Maine on a rainy and droopy Wednesday morning, I immediately felt a flush of apprehension and fear surge through my body. I was still coping with the idea of moving away from my parents, friends, and school for four months. I felt as if I hadn’t actually realized what I was doing, but I got out of the car, put on a smile, and went to see my cabin.

After my parents left, tears had been shed and I was officially on my own, my cabin and I found out we would be the first cabin on farm chores. At first I thought of this as just another chore and expected a normal wake up time, easy tasks, and a fun time taking care of animals. False. Farm chores, on the first day at least, entailed a 5:30am wake up time, which as thankfully got easier and easier. My job was the cows. I milked, fed, mucked, and watered them for two weeks straight. I came to the realization that a stubborn cow means a hard milking session, and that one of our cows, Gerry, has a passion for licking anything and everything, even if it’s the jacket of a sixteen year old girl.

The first couple of days were hard. Along with trying to get to know my brand new cabin mates, I was super stressed about finding time to sleep. During orientation I was going non-stop from 5:45am to 11pm. It was draining, it made me miss home, my family, and, most importantly, my bed.

Sundays at Chewonki are usually the only days in which students can sleep in, but my cabin mates and I were stripped of that pleasure by another day of milking, feeding, mucking, and watering. We woke up to darkness on that Sunday morning, put on our farm clothes, and trudged up the hill with our wheelbarrow filled with slop and compost.

That morning was different, though. We went through our various chores with a calmness that wouldn’t come on any other weekday. It was Sunday, and although we couldn’t sleep in, we realized that we could go through our chores slower, really enjoy what we were doing and the animals around us. After we finished, we headed back to the Wallace to munch on toast and talk about our previous days. It was only 7:30am, still a while before 10:30am Sunday brunch, so we headed back to the cabin. When we got back we all decided to pile onto my bed. One of my cabin mates brought out her Ukulele and began to play and sing for us. It was then, while I was listening to my new friend’s therapeutic voice and cuddling with my other new friends, I realized that this was the place for me. I felt a sense of home, a new love for my cabin mates, farm chores, and my new bed. We soon fell into a deep nap, happier and more relaxed than ever.

Jolie, The Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ

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