We met at the Healing Garden at something close to 7am. I didn’t feel the need to stick to my host’s side yet as soon as we separated I started to drift aimlessly. Like a piece of waterlogged driftwood I wandered around, not really sure where to go or what to do. No one knew me. I knew nobody. I watched women hug and cry and reconnect. I watched women at work organizing, bustling, busy around me. People watching became a pastime until it was time to get serious about stretching. As I worked out the early morning kinks I kept an eye on what everyone else was doing. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Soon, I was being approached. People had heard of me. I was a curiosity. Someone handed me a pink ribbon tattoo. I was reminded of Team in Training. Another woman handed me a bracelet. Pink and white, it barely fit over my hand. Soon it was time to trace our feet onto the Just ‘Cause banner. Not wanting to take up too much room I crossed my feet, one over the other- signing my name and proudly adding ‘Monhegan Island, Maine’ for good measure. For the first time I was proud of my “rock and roll pink” toes. They fit in with everyone else.
As the morning wore on I began to relax and get ready. We had a prayer, a moment of silence for Noreen and after that I couldn’t wait to move. It was if she joined us and was saying let’s go, let’s go! And so we did.
Somehow I found Nor’s husband in the crowd and we walked together for the first hour or so. It was great to be able to talk about Monhegan with someone who really, really knows. The miles flew by. It was a great initiation because I was introduced to more friends and my circle of walkers became bigger. As the miles ticked away my confidence grew and grew. At the end of the first day I had seven new friends to laugh with. Stranger no more.