08 Aug 2017

Nantucket Summer Friends

In the 1986 film “Stand By Me,” The Writer concludes that he “never had any friends later on like the ones he had when he was twelve.” He goes on to beg the question, “does anyone?” Childhood friends truly are some of the best friends. They share your history, remember your beginnings and “knew you when.” A common bond is shared of family life, coming of age and home. A similar bond and intimacy exists with those of us lucky enough to have people we call “summer friends.”

Nantucket is famous for initiating and fostering summer friendships. Because the island is a tourist community where a good majority of the people own summer homes, there are friends we only see two or three months of the year. Some are neighbors who we enjoy catching up with on the front lawn or over iced tea on the porch. Others are people we meet on the beach or at our kid’s summer camp. People we’ve known for years (in some cases decades) whose children become our children’s summer friends and whose family members become like our own. Still others we meet in the most unlikely of circumstances…at a friend’s wedding, waiting in line for ice cream at The Juice Bar or sitting on a barstool at Ventuno Restaurant or The Pearl on a Friday night.

Some of our very best summer friends were discovered while dining casually on a summer evening. Those friends have introduced us to their friends and the love gets paid forward. The old adage “friends of friends should not bring friends” does not apply on Nantucket. In fact, it’s quite common…even expected…that friends should bring along their family or guests to an evening BBQ, Sunday picnic or afternoon cocktail party. A good friend of ours (who incidentally was a friend of a friend) says he purposes to tithe not only his money but his friends…believing that a good thing is meant to be shared and enjoyed by others. And what’s better than a good friend?

It’s fascinating what a lifelong impact our summer friendships have on our family and our life. We’ve walked through the deepest sorrows and the greatest joys with our island friends…sharing profound love and real investment in each other’s lives. At our daughter’s upcoming wedding in September her maid of honor and one of her bridesmaids are girls she met on Nantucket and who share priceless childhood memories with her. Over half the guest list are friends who we were lucky enough to collide with on this tiny spit of sand. What begins as a casual conversation at a restaurant or a mutual friends dinner party, traverses through a lifetime of highs, lows and all the in-between…culminating with the realization of how lucky we are to have Nantucket to connect our lives and complete our story.

The next time you’re dining on a barstool on Nantucket, be sure to befriend the nice folks sitting nearby. You never know who might be a potential lifelong friend and if you’re lucky they’ll have a network of people who will soon enough be your friends too. And, of course, be sure to introduce them to all your friends so the friendship chain continues.

Be friends.
Shellie Dunlap
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