Belonging. It seems that much of one’s identity on Chappy is tied closely to one’s sense of belonging.

Certainly this phenomenon is not unique to Chappy, but it does feel particularly accentuated here on our thinnest of slices of the world and history. Acceptance is a big part of feeling like one belongs somewhere, but it isn’t completely necessary either.

Despite what the population may project, one can feel welcome on Chappy by Chappy herself: her land, sea and nature. I hear a great deal about what does not belong on Chappy (those cars, that behavior, that house) but far less about what does belong. Perhaps because the definition is both fluid and dependent on the variety of sources for the judgment.

Personally, my sense of belonging has evolved over time. As a young man, I first felt a kinship and acceptance because of my lineage. I belonged by default: my grandparents belonged, hence so did I.

Then I became useful and was less reliant on my heritage and more on my relationships with, mostly, the “old guard” on Chappy. I mowed their lawns. I sprayed their lawns. I transported the elderly to and from Westchester county and beyond. I belonged because I was necessary.

As more time passed, my history became even less relevant and more diluted. With my grandparents passing came a surprisingly rapid loss of the memory of them and their contributions. What have you done for us lately?

And then our family home was sold and the very strong roots of a physical structure were lost. It’s much harder to belong when one no longer has a place to roost.

I also no longer travel house-to-house with a sprayer or a mower. I “fired” most of my customers because of my absolute inability to keep up with demand. But I still find a place at the golf course, an entity almost twice as old as any living being on Chappy. My personality and aesthetic are, for better or worse, heavily seasoned in the overall taste of the links. So I have that.

Yet, despite the frequency of many daily encounters with the people of Chappy, my interactions are brief and contained to that one geographic spot. When I was part of a couple on Chappy, I could be found at a relatively large clustering of summer parties. I/we were part of the flow of the cocktail current, despite being singular in our age group. To this day, I still remain a rare representation of my generation on Chappy.

Now, though. Now I get up at 6 a.m, I work on the golf course, and go to bed at 9 p.m, All activity pretty much takes place within a half-mile perimeter of my camper and the links. If I see you, it is almost certainly “here.”

I still feel as though I belong. My existence is fractured between two places--Chappy and Plymouth--but this division hasn’t dampened my sense of belonging much at all.

I guess my thought on all this is that I hope everyone who finds a “home” on Chappy feels that they too belong, no matter their history, resumé, or length of stay. Chappy really does take up residence in the heart. Once there, no one may remove one from the other.

There are chinks, though, in the armor of belonging. With the passing of special people, one’s understanding and familiarity of Chappy lessens ever so slightly. You still belong, but maybe with a little less of the original fervor. As I grow older (okay, old) on Chappy, the pace of losing quickens. Long gone are the old guard: Ham and Mary; Ruth and Bob; Chi and Norm; Joanne and Charlie (her cat); and, unfortunately, countless others. Less long gone are Gordon and Kappy; Roger and Annie; and Edo and Bob. And then Dick Knight and Allison Getsinger. I saw Peter Getsinger on the ferry and could immediately place his loss on his face. She was such a nice lady.

And just now: Joe Coffey. Morgan and Joe recently built a house on Quammox Road after years of being fixtures on Fuller street in Edgartown. They were Chappy people long before they were Chappy residents. Joe wore the half-smile that is the exclusive property of those that are intimate friends with irony and the odd humor of life. His voice alone was enough to make me smile -- a low comfortable friendly growl. I am already missing Joe. I can only imagine the loss that his family feels.

I don’t think I’ll ever reconcile the involuntary signing of the contract that we all make upon being born that no one lasts forever. Some of us should.

All of which brings me back to today. I dreamt last night of The Playhouse: the converted chicken coop at which the Woodgers would vacation on the Marshall property. I dream of it often, and with the dreams return a sliver of the feeling. The feeling that was tied to that time and that place alone. A wonderful feeling.

It occurs to me now that my belonging on Chappy is less about the now, and more about the forever. All those collected memories of people and places. I belong here, as do all those that came before me and continue on in spirit.

So there’s that. Snapping back to the present, please go to to peruse the calendar of events: there’s everything from sailing and tennis to yoga and tai chi to lobster rolls and ice cream. It truly is a remarkably valuable and fun resource for the Chappy community and is a tribute to the efforts of those past and present to tie all the disparate parties of Chappy together, if only for a moment.