1998: I buy my first computer–a Sony laptop. I’m still writing little bits about women but no real story yet. I start keeping a list of the books I read–this year I will read 35. Cal goes to Mobile for business, and I tag along. It’s where my grandparents lived, where I went every summer for years. The new family allows me inside the old house. Into the living room where my sisters and I danced to Jesse James. And down the hall to the pink room, Gram’s room, and the blue room. In the den, as I turn to leave, to head back to the front door, there, around the door frame are our ages and heights and names–Cindy, Susie, Jenny. See, I say, I was here. I will write a story about it. One morning Sam spills cereal all over the counter and the floor, and he walks away. I tell him to come back and clean it up, and he responds, “Oh, Mary will do it.” Mary is our housekeeper, but after that, I find her another place to work and the kids learn to clean up their own messes and how to wash their own clothes. In July we all head north for 18 days–first to Boston with a game at Fenway Park and then to the ferry in Hyannis that will take us to Nantucket. Our house is bike-riding distance to almost everything. The air feels different here–cooler for sure but also lighter, buoyant, alive. There are lobsters and lighthouses and summer sweatshirts. Back home in August I have a French Camp–the Bon Voyage French Camp–with t-shirts and everything. We play French board games and eat French food and receive a visit from a French Canadian player on the Columbus Ice Hockey team. Apple introduces the iMac, Sam starts school, I coach his soccer team, Google becomes a company, Jack gets his own computer, and then I skate away to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires for three days of New England and time to myself.
Thank you for providing the link to your story. The fact that the couple were themselves displaced, strangers in a strange land: you couldn’t make it more powerful. We are all displaced from our pasts, but that knocks the ball out of the park.
Anne! Thanks so much for reading the story. Your words made my day! Hope you have a wonderful trip.
Another especially rich one, Cyn. Love the story about the housekeeper, visiting that old house and knowing the rooms, seeing your names. These are the specifics we talked about before, the reason why you never have to fear boring us.
French camp! Somebody needs to give you a Perfect Mom trophy.
I know exactly what you mean about the air. When Pat and I moved to Maine from NC, we talked about it for weeks. And I still notice it.
I meant to say before that your sister sending those cards–that’s one of the most loving things I’ve ever heard of, what an amazing gift. And the cookbook with the original recipes in the back–obviously the talent for gift-giving runs in the family.
What a delightful life you’ve had. And still so much more to come.
No mom trophy–the French camp was surely as much for me as them : )
I like the fact that you take regular trips by yourself. How therapeutic! I have never been afraid to dine alone or visit a museum (or historical site) alone. I like having the freedom to move at my own pace. I can soak it all in. I’ve been to conferences in Hot Springs by myself, so that’s the closest thing to a solo trip for me, I suppose. The other visits have always been day trips.
Thanks, Terrri, and good for you–conferences by yourself totally count. And so do museum trips and hours here and there. Whatever works for you–time to one’s self is such an individual need.