Jamestown is a special island. Not just to me, but to everyone who lives there. The people of Jamestown are extremely unique. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s a place people go for the eclectic community. There are NASA engineers, actors, musicians, world class sailors, professional scuba divers, and other more traditional professions. Not everyone has a boat although it is a huge part of the community (duh, it’s an island), but everyone has a story which is probably what I like most.
-the manager at the marina who worked on a megayacht for 20 years before coming back to work at the place she got her start in the boating world.
-Linc, who drives around in his motorized wheelchair after being severely paralyzed in a sailing accident years ago. He eats out at a different restaurant for every meal and he is widely known around the island. Every year he invites everyone to his penthouse apartment for a Super Bowl party. I have yet to take him up on his offer.
-the owner of the local pet shop on the island that is also a scuba diver where he fixes boats.
-the ferry driver who used to be one of the dock boys and remembers me from when I was running around the docks with a lifejacket decided he missed the island and came back to start his own family and work part-time at the marina.
-James Taylor, who lives here in the summer to hide from all of the crazy fans like my mom. He loves paddle boarding around the harbor with his sons and keeps his boat next to ours.
-the fire department guys, who are all townies and were born and bred here. The recreation department is all related to the fire department and also somehow related to the marina workers. It’s one of those places where everyone seems to be related…
-the local housecleaner on the island has cleaned my best friend’s house since she was born, lives downtown, and told me her entire life story as we were sitting at the laundromat one day. We chatted about Jamestown, her past running career, her daughter the model, her son the 7-foot tall professional basketball player, and the properties she “manages” on the island.
Over the years in Jamestown, I’ve met some of the most amazing people. It’s one of those places where people will just start talking to you. The retired guys at the deli wave to me as I run by every morning. The ferry drivers ask me if I had a quiet night on the boat. The pizza place knows my order and the deli knows how I like my bagel and what kind of wrap to make. The ice cream owner brings me water when I have to wait in line because we’re frequent customers, and the dock boys put the ice (for the fridge) on my parent’s account without me having to ask. I love living on a small island where everybody knows everybody. It makes it feel like home.
The other day, I was in line for ice cream and an older man in a wheelchair stopped me. He said, “Hey, you’re the girl that rows your dinghy in every morning at the crack of dawn.” I had never seen him before but I smiled back at him and said yep, that’s me. He told me he sees me row in from his condo and always yells to his wife that he sees “that girl” rowing in again. Then he said, “You’re also the girl that won Ali’s Run a few years ago during the last year the race was held.” I nodded again and he said he had run it too. We continued to converse and I found him and his story fascinating. I didn’t ask, but if he ran the race 3 years ago with me, that means he lost his leg in the past 3 years. I was so touched and inspired to be talking to him, and as we shook hands before he left, he told me his name and said, “Just keep running.”
The people of Jamestown are amazing. I am touched every single time someone recognizes me. Even though I don’t know a lot of them on a personal level, I know Ralph will run by the beach every morning at 9:30, the retired guys will be playing cards over coffee at 6:30, and the maintenance guys for the town will drive by while I’m running every morning. The people of Jamestown are what make this island such a special place, and I will never forget that.
Then it hit me. After living here for 5 years, I’ve become one of those people of Jamestown. Just like I “know” these people I’ve never met, people “know” me around town as the girl that lives on a boat, the girl that’s always running around town at the crack of dawn, the lifeguard at the cove, the girl that hangs out in the dockhouse, the girl that loves frozen hot chocolate and pizza and bagels…
My mom and I went for a walk last night and I was telling her about some of these people I’ve come into contact with this summer, specifically the man that lost his leg. She said to me, “Sarah, I know you will be back to raise your own family in Jamestown. It may take you a few years to get there, but I have no doubt that Jamestown will become your home and those people will not forget you when you do come back to visit just like you won’t forget them.”
She’s right. The people of Jamestown will always be there. And eventually, so will I. But until then, I’ll continue coming back to visit my favorite place in the entire world so that I can see these “friends” I’ve made along the way, because they’ve truly shaped my entire experience living here and I can’t imagine life without those characters.
Have you ever stopped to meet the locals around your town?
Are you known for anything where you live?