Just passing through

For three decades I identified with Monhegan. Even to the point of claiming “peter at monhegan” as my e-mail address. The fact is that Peter is no longer at Monhegan. We’ve all shed as many identities as our lobsters have shed their shells.

When our family moved onto the Island, I had not fully shed the shell that brought us there. I knew that shell was not working for me but did not have the courage to accept the vulnerability shedding required. Shortly after moving on, an Islander told me that he observed the ease with which we moved on, and predicted that if things did not suit us just right, we would move off with the same ease. Well, it took ten years for my inshore shell to shed. It did when I realized that there were things about the Island that did not “suit me just right”, I was damned if we would move off. Well, life on the Island bumped along for the next two and a half decays when we were called off the Island to attend to some family needs.

For two years we continued to identify with Monhegan, keeping that shell firmly in place. It’s been an additional two years and that shell is mostly off. Sure there are bits and pieces of it lying about, like buildings on the Island that once I worked on and now are held together by other hands. The New Monhegan Press is in different hands and taken on shell of its own. Or Monhegan Commons, www.monhegan.com that I still update daily or the e-mail address, but with every change of tide those bits of shells get thinner and more fragile.

Life on Monhegan was good to me and my family. Of course I like to imagine that we had become part of that Island. But that was a time that is not now, a different tide. All of us passing though Monhegan are affected by that Island and so we affect the Island. Yet both effects are written on the sand at mid tide and are soon lost to the incoming tide.

The last time I was on the Island, in “our home”, which is very much the same as it was when we resided there, it was different. The spirit (our spirit) was not there. Oh, it was nice enough, but it was not much more than a summer rental to me.

The shedding of Monhegan is a liberating experience for me. Giving it up, is more like giving it back – even though it was never mine to have or give. I rejoice at the next generation’s “take over” of the Island and wish them well. It is good to leave as friends, as leave we must in any case.

Peter Boehmer