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There's No Place Like Home

Thoughts on loving and leaving Nantucket and my journey back

As I write this column, I'm sitting on a bus to Boston. I don't leave the island much these days, and that is a change for me. For years I lived on Nantucket during the week and traveled to Boston most weekends and ventured a bit farther when I could manage a three day weekend.

At the time my brother worked for a major U.S. airline and I was able to take advantage of the family perks afforded him, leaving Nantucket on an inexpensive Nantucket Shuttle flight (with people always telling me I was so brave, but I figured the price was worth the risk of flying in a somewhat rickety plane), then taking this very bus to Logan and flying off to points unknown. Amsterdam for three days one time; London for four days a couple months later. Most all my vacations were spent abroad or visiting family and friends far from Nantucket.

Then I moved.

I left Nantucket to take a job in the Boston area and was gone about a year-and-a-half. After seven years on Nantucket full-time (as an adult) I was desperate to leave. In hindsight I'm sure I was probably just restless, believing that I had some ambitions yet to be fulfilled in the "real world."

What I didn't count on was  how important Nantucket was to me, and how this island was actually more integral to my personal happiness than my job, my salary, how nice my apartment was or how easy it was to get to the cities and concerts that I loved.

I missed being here. I missed waking up here. I missed fishing here. I missed scalloping. I missed the beach fires with my friends. I missed the sunsets from Millie's while having dinner. I missed sipping on a beer while watching a movie with three other people at the Starlight. I missed the summer. I really missed the fall and sometimes even the winter. I never missed the spring. I missed walking down Main Street and around town on a cool evening. I missed watching the boats come and go from that bench on Straight Wharf. I missed lazy afternoons at the Brewery. I missed my island.

After living for a while in a suburb near Boston, I began to despise my surroundings and found myself longing for Nantucket, when just a short time before, I couldn't wait to leave. Looking back, I chalk this up to my youth and a part of growing up.

Now in my (early) thirties, I've been back on Nantucket full-time for almost a year. I've settled back in to the community. I've been going scalloping for the first time in a couple years. I know this is where I belong.

I enjoy the pace of life, the people, the community, the small town atmosphere, the summer bustle, the ever-lingering fall, the Christmas tree lighting, the red ticket drawing, the winter storms, the Daffodil parade and so much more.

This may not make sense to everyone, but to those who also love Nantucket for all she is, you know what I am saying. It's visceral. It's the reason people come for a vacation and never leave. It's the reason many come back even if they do.

Sometimes I fear the changes that are most certainly hitting Nantucket each and every day (the recent bad news concerning Camp Richard for example), but I still can't think of a better place. Gentrification and change are inevitable in every small town, and there is a time and reason to harbor that sadness, I suppose. Maybe it just means I need to do more to try and keep Nantucket the place I love so dearly.

I'm still on the bus. We are getting close to Boston and its evening traffic. I'll spend the weekend visiting with some good friends, go to a much-anticipated concert (Lucero - check them out), and I'm sure I'll have a great time, but … what time is that return boat?

Why do you love Nantucket? Share with us in the comments what keeps you here or coming back.