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“Slow Down!” The bumper sticker read on the back of an old woody Jeep Wagoneer. “This ain’t the Mainland!”
Of all the Nantucket slogans, (ACK, Life is Good, 20 is Plenty in Sconset) this one has to be my favorite. I love living on this island exactly because of this. It doesn’t feel like America. There’s no Wendy’s, no Wal-Mart and no way off after 9 p.m. I wave to everyone while walking up those funny cobblestones, and beep only to say hello to fellow islanders on Federal Street.
Over the last few months, I’ve become so at peace with being happy where I am. Some local people have said that you need to have some screws loose to stay here year-round, but I’ve found the exact opposite. I have found that all my winter friends are ambitious, mostly healthy and somewhat sane. The winter is for getting all your ducks in a row. It’s for putting together new projects, jump-starting your seasonal plans while relaxing on an island with no stoplights and nothing but a big old beautiful starry sky to check out some nights.
Oh man, I know! I’m so positive, it’s annoying.
Well, life is too short to not have a smile on your face. So you can believe the island is ruined by “washashores” and be content as a glass half-empty kinda guy. Or you can find happiness in all the little things of every season like this Finigan does.
I’ve always been a firm believer that any place that takes a lot of effort to get to is that much more worth it when you finally arrive. No place has solidified this belief more for me than our little island. Honestly, how many times have we gotten stuck in America, cursing the fact that there’s no bridge from Sandwich to Surfside? How many boats have we been booked on that have gotten canceled due to rough water, or planes postponed because of high winds? Yes, this place is that much different from Barnstable and Boston that we just about cry when we hear about Nantucket weather delays. “I just want to get bACK!” And when our feet take those awkward three steps down off the plane at the airport, we take a deep breath to be safe and sound on the ground, inhaling that fresh Nantucket air that I just wish you could bottle for those city people.
I talk to dozens of people every day. Hey, as a bartender out here, aside from pouring the Chardonnay, I get to listen to people whine. Oh, the amount of snow you people have in Brookline and Brooklyn! Oh, the forever traffic you are constantly stuck in! Those stoplights that never turn green, and all those people who throw their glass away in their garbage! No one recycles the way you guys do in Nantucket.
When everyone told me how “hard” my first winter out here would be, well, I just sit back at the Bean and smile. No snow boots on, no down jacket zipped up, and no sign of my breath as I fall in love with the island all over again this Valentine’s Day.
After six seasons here on Nantucket and winters on other continents and beaches, I’ve found this. I’ve chosen this island over weddings and birthday parties, over family reunions and summer family vacations. I’ve chosen Nantucket over Boston flings, Uruguayan loves, Hawaiian best friends and New Zealand life partners. I’ve chosen the Rock over Maui, Mendoza, Montevideo and Mount Maunganui. And this winter, I’ve begun to realize what makes the 02554 100 percent worth all the sacrifices.
Because after all, this ain’t the mainland. And I’ve slowed down enough this winter to realize that’s the main reason why I love Nantucket.
– Finigan’s Findings appears regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror