If you are lucky enough to live on the water,
you are lucky enough.
you are lucky enough.
She was young and petite. It was hard to say how young. She was old enough to drive, old enough to have multiple tattoos and a small nose ring. Her eyes were dark pools, her curls were of silky brown hair, and her smile was as soft as a child's. "Girl" seemed right for the short shorts and half T shirt.
She turned abruptly as I opened the door. I must have looked puzzled, because she immediately started to introduce herself, or rather her mission, as she wrung her hands.
"I know this is going to seem weird, I mean, I don't usually do anything like this. I hate to interrupt you but I just thought I might take a chance. I mean, if you were nice enough to give me a few minutes. Would you mind if I took a quick look, I mean, could I ask...." I opened the door wider and backed up to usher her in.
"I grew up spending every summer here with my grandmother. Everyday between the end of school and the beginning of the next year I was here.....WOW! This looks incredible! Wow! It looks so different!"
"You remember that the deck used to go all the way around", I said. We just enclosed the part that was covered to add a dining space, and more room for the kitchen."
"I almost thought you had turned the house around. But yeah, I used to ride my bike around and around the deck".
We spent a little time talking about the new kitchen we had put in last year. Yes, she noticed the front of the house looked different but she still recognized it. When we bought the house, was that big square chopping block still there? Are Mr Jim and Miss Betty still next door? His brother? I like your garden. Do you like flowers? My grandmother really liked flowers. That room right there was my room. The one with the glass doors overlooking the water.
"I came here every summer until I was about 12 or 13. Then my grandmother and my step-grandfather got a divorce. I never saw this house again." A pause as she looked around a little more.
"Would you mind if I went out on the back deck?"
"No, sure, come on." I led her across the living room and we walked out to the water side of the house.
"Oh, it looks just the same as I remember it. It is so beautiful."
Then a look back at me. "I was on my way to pick up my grandmother. She lives in Harlowe now. My mother is getting married again this weekend."
Then a look out again at the water. "I was having a really bad day. So on the way I just decided to stop by here. I knew it was a long shot, but I just had to try it. Thank you so much for letting me see it again."
Another far away look, so I said, "Why don't you just spend a little time reminiscing. I can leave you alone out here".
"Oh, would you mind? That is so nice of you. If I could just have a few minutes, it would be so helpful." She sat down on the top step, knees to elbows, head on hands, and stared out at the water.
I went back inside and sat down at the computer. I had never heard anyone talk about a grandchild in this house. I knew about the couple, the ugly divorce, then finally the death of the man. Wonder what had gone wrong today?
I glanced back out at the steps. Rain had moved my visitor from the step to the porch swing, but her gaze had not changed. She moved the swing a bit as if riding the ripples in the water. She almost seemed to hold her breath, diving deep and long before surfacing; then deep again.
At this pace, I began to wonder if she had lost track of time; maybe if she would even be able to walk away. Then I heard the back door open, and her cheerful voice say, "Thank you so much for letting me spend a while here. It was just what I needed."
She walked across the room and out the front door, down the steps and across the yard to her car. I don't think she ever turned back to look again. Whatever it was, she left it here. She wasn't fighting it anymore. She must have learned how to do that from the water long ago, when emotions were fluid and flexible.
I walked back out onto the deck and smiled. My soul is already sticky and stiff and I am just learning. Feels like maybe I am on the right track in the right place.
“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.”
― Anthony Doerr,