A few friends and I agreed to visit an old classmate, Andrew, one summer at his new place. On an island off the coast of Maine, Andrew was there to pick up some extra money during the lobstering season. Spending months in a family home without tv or internet, a just going about a simpler life. I was intrigued. North Haven island is mainly used as a place for seasonal workers to rest their heads after a long day on the boat. What did an island with one restaurant and almost no cell service do in their down time? No stranger to last-minute road trips, we piled into the car and screamed our lungs out to fuzzy radio stations for the next six hours on our way to find out.
Fast-forward to feet up in the bed of Andrew’s pick-up truck on one of the only roads that exists on the island. I watched the tips of the trees go by and the fading sun in the reflection of the cab windows. Aside from the wind created from the speeding truck, it was almost completely silent. Tonight we were headed to a vow renewal of two North Haven locals.
Because the entire island was invited to this vow renewal, that also meant us.
Turning off on a side road, we all jumped out, assuming that the dozen of parked cars in a lone lot meant this is where the party was happening. Slightly nervous, I think all of us were unsure of what to expect. The bride was in a full-length tie-dye skirt with flowers in her hair and was dancing under the soft glow of lights. The couple didn’t even seem to be aware of the people around them, simply happy in each other’s arms. There were all walks of life from young to old, friends to complete strangers.
It didn’t matter, this was a celebration and everyone was allowed to partake.
The smell of a pig roasting wafted in the air. Walking towards the food (because in what other direction would I head?) I found myself in a group huddled around the main course. By the steady light of a single headlamp, I watched as someone carved up the remaining pig with one of the largest hunting knives I’ve ever seen. As he slapped the charred meat onto a plate, I looked up to see a large, slightly intoxicated grin as he handed it to me.
“I made this one especially for you, dear.”
Smiling, I turned back towards the darkness and made my way back to the twinkling lights. Throughout the night, I experienced similar friendliness from people who knew the couple, but did not know me. Whenever I sat one plate down, I immediately had another full of appetizers and cake thrust into my hands. Coming from a relatively small family and network of friends, these are the moments that always catch me off-guard. Where the kindness of strangers is just that. They’re not expecting anything in return, except for you to have as great of a time as they’re having.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to decide if I truly loved a place due to the scenery or simply the circumstances.
Why do we fall in love with certain places and not others? Was it the people we meet or the places we see? Whatever the case, I find myself keeping that weekend in North Haven, Maine tucked in a very special part of my heart.
Maybe it was the lack of cell service and watching my friends hang their heads out the windows attempting to get a signal as I drove around. Maybe it was the excitement in their voices after they came back from experiencing a day of lobstering the to experience Andrew’s day-to-day for the past few months. It could have been the home-cooked meal, my mind changed forever about seafood after a few bites of Maine lobster. Or possibly it’s all those memories of seeing a late friend laugh, and truly laugh as she lay next to one of our guy friends in the field that night. Maybe it was just knowing I’d never be able to experience that again.
Whatever it was, I’m glad I said yes.
Yes to driving the six hours. Yes to hopping in a tiny boat to go watch Andrew pull up one of the lobster cages for our dinner one night. A big yes to a stranger’s vow renewal with cake and pig, yes to it all. Especially now that I live in New York, it’s easy to be overloaded with requests on the street. From people promoting new clubs, asking you to sign petitions, throwing flyers in your face about Jesus, or hearing one sad story after another about someone losing their home. By now, I’m conditioned to automatically say no to fake monks trying to tie bracelets on your wrists. It’s an absolute sensory overload all day, every day.
Because of all this, it’s hard for me now not to questions someone’s motives. But I am truly grateful for those small moments, on an island of 300, that prove me wrong every so often.
Would you say yes to attending someone else’s vow renewal? Have you ever been invited to a stranger’s life event while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!
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