"Realizing Home" by Cacique Sarah Becker

Arriving back on campus yesterday after over a week of separation due to kayak, I expected to use my exploration time as I always did: by heading to the beach. Yet when the time came for me to sign out, I realized I didn’t actually want to go to the beach. In fact, I was perfectly content not going. When I first arrived here at The Island School, the beach was a magical, tropical paradise, a welcome change from the snow and winter blues I had left in my New England home. Anytime a group was rallying to head down to Sunset, I immediately jumped on board, eager to experience my environment and take in my surreal surroundings. That’s what they were to me: surreal. The clear, azure waters of my paradise dreams, etched by soft sand and framed by waving palms. Going to the beach felt like I was on a tropical vacation, the sparkling water reminding me of how different this new place was from my angry Atlantic waters. I was a tourist. I wanted to take it all in.

And then came solo. 48 hours on a beach. Sleeping, thinking, and breathing in the sun, surf, and sand with no escape from the heat, no cleanse of the salt, and no relief from the constant thunder of crashing waves. The beach was transformed from my escape to my prison, from my destination to my shelter. Solo's deep and lengthy revelations had reshaped my perceptions of my self, but also those of my surroundings. The beach was my shelter, my house, and my home, the keeper of my memories and the grounding of my experience. I had lived through the vacation, and now this was my home. The beach would be there another day. I was finally here to stay.