Monday, May 05, 2014

Graduation Party at Masonboro Island

This past weekend we finally enjoyed the culmination of months of planning, dozens of emails, and too many logistics to count. We took nearly 20 people - most of them graduating MFA students - to an uninhabited island, accessible only by boat, for an overnight camping trip. Half of the attendees had never kayaked before; many had never slept in a tent. I'm not sure how many will ever do either again, but by all accounts the trip was a smashing success. 

MFA Shanty Town

The whole trip was Nathan's brainchild - he loves camping, and really wanted everyone to experience Masonboro Island, one of the best parts of living in Wilmington, before we graduate and scatter. Those who didn't have gear were able to rent it from the campus rec center. Dory, intrepid volunteer, bought all the food for the group - hot dogs, veggie dogs, buns, and fixin's, which we roasted over the fire, and eggs and tortillas for the morning, which I scrambled over the camping stove. We also brought two kegs (an ill advised idea, it turns out - thank goodness Drew had a tiny motor boat!) and Nathan built a geodesic dome out of PVC for shade and shelter (which deserves its own post). The trip was most definitely a group effort, and better for it. 

Partial group shot, stolen from Kate.

Island volleyball tournament. 

We had a volleyball, and Nathan and Joe rigged up a court with some bamboo we'd brought from home (long story). We split into teams of four and had a tournament in the sand. We also took walks down the beach and hunted for seashells. But mostly we drank. And drank. And drank. It was, after all, a graduation party on an uninhabited island. Can you blame us?

Nicola, while the group cheered "Salt! Tequila! Lime!"

It was cloudy and overcast most of the afternoon, sprinkling here and there, but by the time sunset rolled around the rain stopped and we were treated to most glorious sunset. There is no filter on this photo, just so you know. Nature doesn't need your fancy Instagrams. 

Nearly everyone kayaked back to civilization the next morning, but Nathan, Erica, and I decided to stay behind for a second night. While the party had been a blast, it was also a lot of work, and we all needed another day at the beach to decompress, recover from the semester, and truly relax. I'm so glad we did. I read a book cover to cover (Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Review forthcoming.) I took a nap in the sand, under the sun. We discussed at great length the Utopian compound where we'll all live together one day. We listened to an episode of This American Life around the fire. And I had an epiphany, something I've always known but somehow - in the rush of graduation and job applications and credit card debt and student loan payments and general uncertainty about the future - managed to forget. 

I don't need much to be happy. Hardly anything, really. People I love. Books to read. A roof (or tent) over my head. The natural world around me - the beach, a night sky filled with stars, the sun, which rises and falls every day, no matter what existential crisis I'm going through. Everything else is extra. That reminder, brought to me by an Island, some of the best friends I've ever known, and a bottle of tequila, was desperately needed. I'm grateful to have it. 

By the time we left Masonboro Island early Sunday morning, I had a slight hangover and a sunburn. But I also had the knowledge that I already have everything I need to be happy. As we glided across the Intracoastal waterway toward home, I felt peaceful for the first time in weeks.

Until next time, Masonboro.