There was no post last Wednesday because I took an extended holiday weekend to Martha’s Vineyard with a group of friends. They are a pretty great bunch, and of course a little weird.
This is the third year I’ve gone to Oak Bluffs with this group, and despite being an introvert packed into a house with 10-15 other people, it’s one of the more restful and rejuvenating experiences I look forward to all year.
Besides the company (I’ll get to that), one of the best things about this trip is the traditions we’ve built. Here are a few.
Listing this first because it’s mine ;) I played this game as a kid with my family, and on our first trip to MV I brought the board along. Now a small group of us re-learn the game and play together each year.
2. The medal.
We found a random “1st” medal hanging on a chain link fence by a beach the first year, a bit crusty and barnacled. Now we award it any time someone does something awesome (cooks dinner, cleans up, wins a game, tells an exceptional joke, does something nice for someone else or the group, you get the idea). It’s fairly indicative of what a supportive and affirming crowd this is.
^Stolen from Daniel's Instagram. More stolen Instas below.
3. Cooking delicious food.
We cook and eat almost all of our meals together, with a few staples. Matt makes tasty fresh sea food – shrimp, mussels, clams, and scallops. I’m not a super adventurous eater and most of these creatures don’t usually make it on the menu for me. But I’ll dig into whatever Matt makes, because it’s awesome. And then there are Michael’s enchiladas. He makes them from his grandmother’s recipe, which his mom recorded because abuela always made them by feel and memory. And they are insane. I literally don’t think I can describe the amazingness here. Just trust me.
The last two years we’ve set up hammocks (some sewn by Vlad!) connected to the house porch. Perfect for lounging.
5. Biking and beaches.
Every year we have rented bikes in town (or brought our own, like Vlad and I and a few others did this year) and ridden to Edgartown and a nearby beach. It’s about 15-20 miles round-trip, depending on the beach, and those of us who are not in biking shape (like me) end up pretty sore. But it’s gorgeous and worth it. Sometimes the wind is chilly and the water is always freezing, but I love the ocean and being in it, so I’m happy. On the way back we jump off this bridge, because why not.
6. Kite flying.
Matt has many kites. Some of them are reasonable sized. Some are not. The biggest, dubbed the Sky Beast, can literally pick you up and drag you along the sand if you don’t know how to handle it.
7. Ice cream and gingerbread houses.
Martha’s Vineyard has some peak ice cream game going on. And near the main drag with the best ice cream shops in Oak Bluffs, you have a little mini-neighborhood filled with the “gingerbread houses,” colorful 19th-century cottages in concentric circles facing the Tabernacle, and outdoor historical church. We take any newcomers there at night because it’s creepy.
8. Back Door Donuts.
This place in Oak Bluffs serves super yummy, super fresh donuts from a hole-in-the-wall from 7pm to 1am. It started because fishermen would come back late and stop by while the bakers were starting up the next day’s work. Now it’s a thing.
9. Movie screening.
We hang a sheet from an upper balcony and set up a projector outside. Last year we watched Casino Royale, this year Jaws. Sometimes neighbors and passersby stop in.
This is maybe the weirdest. On the ferry ride back to the mainland on our first year, we had some leftover Chartreuse and started drinking it out of this shell. And then people started chanting “amumsheba” because we’re strange. I think it’s an Indiana Jones reference? Anyway now that’s how we induct people into our cult. I mean, welcome them to our group. Right.
I’m certainly missing a few other traditions—playing croquet and Pokemon Go, for starters—but what makes Martha’s Vineyard so special is the people. The core group originates from some friends and old roommates from NYU, but it’s grown to include new friends, significant others, and generally awesome people. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world.