A seagull flies across the ocean

By Michelle Chafin, North Duplin Jr./Sr. High in Duplin County

I grew up in Jacksonville NC. It was a military town, so there was a lot of change going on around me. I rarely felt at home, yet Jacksonville is a coastal town and exactly one thing gets me feeling nostalgic: Gulls.

Seagulls on a beach

It doesn’t matter where I am, if there’s a stray gull flying around I get that homesick feeling that nothing else provokes. Right before I received word I had been selected as an advisor to North Duplin, I took a trip home and spent time enjoying these birds. I had already interviewed and had a good feeling about the school, so driving home I stopped to put my eyes on the place that turned out to be where I’d spend most of my time for the next two years.

It would be months before I returned, but the next time I arrived on that campus I had another avian greeter. He wasn’t there every day, but pretty reliably after arriving at the school in the mornings— this guy made himself known. I found him delightful, but I didn’t notice how much he’d ingrained himself in my sense of place.

That is, until my first day back this fall. The first welcome back I got was from this rooster and to my surprise, it evoked that same nostalgic comfort that the gulls always have. In this small way, I’m home.