When I accepted a year-long contract with the Vineyard Gazette last fall, my mother warned me that the Island was different in the winter.

At the time I was working at a local newspaper just outside New Bedford. I lived in the city and grew immediately to love it, for all its rough edges and humble references to a vital history. But even as I declared to friends and family that I could live in New Bedford for decades, I knew I had set foot in New England with one goal in mind.

My family has never owned property on Martha’s Vineyard, but just before I was born, a family member on my mother’s side pitched this small glacial deposit as a summer getaway. By all accounts, that first trip was an uninformed and disorganized affair. My father, I’m told, was the only one of the group who found peace in the bucolic shelter of our up-Island rental. He grew up in Ireland, southwest of Dublin, and the surroundings felt familiar. My mother and her four siblings, on the other hand, all grew up in and around New York city. And yet, a family tradition was formed and for the first 14 years of my life I spent at least one week each summer on the Island.

Some of my earliest memories live on Main street in Edgartown, watching the Fourth of July parade. Others take me back to the large farmhouse just north of downtown Edgartown where my unwieldy group of cousins and I played in the yard and bothered sheep just over the fence. It was around then, my mother told me, that I said someday I wanted to live on Martha’s Vineyard forever.

About a dozen years later, I was a recent college graduate living in an apartment in far upstate New York, watching video tours of the Island I had found online. In one scene a man narrated over dash-cam footage a drive from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs via Beach Road. A deep sense of personal longing set in and soon after I took a job in Marion to bring myself closer to the Island. The move also brought me closer to the Gazette. In college, when I declared myself a journalism major, the thought of working at the paper consumed me, matched only by a dream of working as a reporter for the New York Times, or some other major national publication.

Over the next few years, I applied for many jobs at the Gazette, throwing my hat in for several internships and full-time positions. In the fall of 2021 I was finally offered a job as a reporter.

When I moved here last November, to a small cottage among the quiet roads and woods of West Tisbury, I did so expecting to survive six months of off-season solitude as I looked forward to summers which loomed so large in my mind. What I found instead, in the newsroom and across the Island, was not solitude but rather a tight-knit group of people who cared more about the world around them than any community I had ever known. Through reporting on subjects from housing insecurity to local profiles and select board meetings, I found myself at home in the quiet months in a way I had never experienced before. And when the summer did finally come, it brought with it new faces in the newsroom, co-workers who now occupy spaces in my mind similar to those of childhood and college friends.

As I reach the end of this yearlong fellowship, I am beckoned by the life and relationships I put on pause to come to the Island. And so, I am trading in the black and gray pages of this newspaper for a new start, working in digital media.

But while preparing to leave the Island, I am left with a familiar thought I hope will drive me through the next years of my life: Someday, I want to live on Martha’s Vineyard forever.