I sit at my computer, words flowing through me as I type madly on the keyboard. A story has me in its grip and I’m unaware of anything other than it. I need to capture its essence before it leaves me.
I’m dimly aware of the screen door opening, the soft sound of footsteps, but I ignore them. I am focused on the story. Something tickles my subconscious brain. These aren’t the normal sounds of my house. The cat makes the screen door slam when he comes in or goes out. The screen door didn’t slam this time. Something is wrong.
The hair on the back of my neck stands out. I feel a shiver along my spine. Someone is in the house. I very quietly push back my desk chair and tiptoe to the baseball bat that sits in the corner of the office. Brandishing it, I creep towards the noise. Its in the parlor. I can hear someone breathing.
I see someone bending over trying to disconnect the cables from the TV. He has already detached the TV from its stand. I go berserk. I whip the baseball around and catch him on the ear. He grunts and turns towards me. I didn’t hit him hard enough. He starts walking towards me as he pulls a knife out of his pocket. I look for a sign of compassion in his eyes. I see nothing other than the gleam of violence as he comes towards me. No time to think. No time to wind up for another whack on his head with the bat.
I hold the bat down low like I’m submitting. But I still have a tight grip. He plants his feet, getting ready to stab – I raise the bat between his legs as hard as I can. He goes down. I’m frozen. I can’t seem to move my feet to run. I count three agonizingly slow seconds, making myself breathe. Then I run towards the front door.
Thoughts start to flash through my head. If I run down the steps towards the street, he’ll see me. I don’t how long he will be incapacitated or how fast he can run. Instead, I run around to the side porch and crouch beside the wall of the house. He won’t be able to see me, but I’m also trapped. My breath comes in ragged gulps. My heart is galloping. I raise the bat over my head and wait, willing my heart rate to slow.
Sirens. Coming closer. A neighbor must have seen something wrong and called 911. I silently thank whomever called.
I hear footsteps pounding towards the door. The guy bursts through the door and looks around wildly. His knife is held high, ready to throw.
Brakes screech and doors slam. “Police! Drop the knife! Now!” From my hiding spot, I see three police officers standing on the sidewalk, guns out and aimed at the guy with the knife.
He raises his knife arm.
I whip around the corner and bring the bat down on his wrist as hard as I can. He looks surprised. The knife drops and skitters along the bricks of the porch. The guns swivel towards me. I drop the bat and raise my hands. My entire body is shaking from the adrenaline rush. As the adrenaline leaves my system, I sink to the ground and sit.
The next few minutes are a blur of colors and noise. Police officers storm the porch, handcuff the guy, arrest him, haul him out to a car, and ask me if I’m ok. I nod. I think I’m ok. I don’t know for sure. I’m a little dazed.
“Ma’am, why did you hit the guy with a baseball bat? He could have stabbed you.” We’re sitting at the kitchen table. One police officer gets me a glass of water.
“I didn’t think. I just acted.”
“Thank you” he replies.
They walk back down the front steps, shaking their heads about middle-aged woman fiercely wielding a baseball bat while being faced with a guy with a knife and police officers with guns.
I walk to the back door and flip the lock. The cat can meow when he wants to go out.
“Faster, Dasher. Fly faster!” Pindi lay on Dasher’s back, her wings tucked close to her body, her hands gripping his shoulders. She was having the time of her life flying around the yard on Dasher’s back while the wind gusted around them.
“I can’t fly any faster, Pindi. Its too windy. I can hardly stay right side up.”
“When is it my turn?” yelled Mindi. “I want a ride, too.”
Reluctantly, Pindi asked Dasher to land so her twin sister could have a turn. Pindi was surprised Mindi wanted to ride. Mindi was usually timid. But, she kept Pindi from getting in even more trouble than she did. That was quite a job.
“Today is our birthday!” Pindi shouted. “We’re 11! We’re having a party later. You’ll come, won’t you? Everyone will be there. Mom and Dad, Blade, Grandma and Grandpa, Angus, Zoom, the frog king and the young frog we helped save. Even Ka-a. But Raven Feather isn’t invited. He’s mean.” Ka-a and Raven Feather were crows. Crows and fairies don’t normally get along, but Ka-a and Pindi were friends.
“We’re waiting until dusk when the fairy lights go on in the garden near our summer home. We can dance in the sparkling light. I think the giants put them up just for us.”
“Of course, I’ll be there,” Dasher answered, slightly out of breath from Pindi’s ride. “I wouldn’t miss it. Will you have mosquitoes? I love mosquitoes. They’re delicious.”
“Mom is making sure we have everyone’s favorite food.” Pindi answered, licking her lips and thinking about honey treats. And presents.”
“Wow, that was fun!” Mindi landed, excited after her ride on Dasher.
“Told you so.” Pindi flew off, intending to fly straight home to see how the party preparations were going. But she thought she heard crying, so she veered towards the sound. Mindi followed.
“Did you hear that?”
“Yes, it sounds like someone is hurt. Let’s go see.”
Pindi shook her head in wonder. Why had Mindi suddenly gotten so fearless?
“Look! There on here on the ground beside the fern. It looks like a wood nymph. She’s bleeding.”
The fairy sisters landed next to the injured wood nymph.
“What happened?” asked Pindi.
“I was flying around the Crepe Myrtle and a gust of wind blew me off course. Then I fell. My arm hurts and my knees are bleeding.”
“I’m Mindi and this is my sister Pindi. What’s your name?”
“We’ll take you to our healer. She’ll get you fixed up.”
“No, please help me get back to my tree. I just want to go home. We have a healer, too.”
“Ok” said Mindi, looking at her sister. “How will we fly holding Xylem? We’re all the same size.”
“I know”, said Pindi, “We’ll get Dasher.” She flew off to find the dragonfly.
“We need your help. We found an injured wood nymph. She needs to get back to her tree, but we can’t lift her.” Pindi explained to Dasher.
Dasher was exhausted after flying the sisters around the yard. He just wanted to rest. But, he waited for Pindi to climb back on his back and flew to the fern where the sisters had found the wood nymph.
“Help is here!” Pindi exclaimed as she climbed off Dasher’s back. “Let’s help you get up on Dasher and he’ll take you home.”
Xylem wasn’t sure about riding on a dragonfly, but she stood up on wobbly, bloody knees, cradling her injured arm. “How am I supposed to hold on? I can’t use my arm.”
“I’ll ride with you,” said Mindi, “and help you hold on.”
“Come to our birthday party later!” Mindi yelled as Dasher took off with his passengers.
At dusk, the party was in full swing. The buffet table was piled with everyone’s favorite treats. Mosquitoes and flies for the dragonflies and frogs. Nectar for the hummingbirds. Honey treats and mead for the fairies. A fairy band played rock and roll. Pindi and Mindi danced and frolicked in the sparkling fairy lights with their friends.
“Xylem! You came.” Pindi shouted, seeing the wood nymph standing on the fence with her arm in a sling. She had brought her parents with her. “Come and meet everyone.”
Much later, laying next to her sister in their leaf beds, Pindi thought their birthday was about perfect.
Gretel woke up with a start. “Where am I? Why don’t both my eyes work?” She looked around with her one good eye and saw asphalt and cars. All damaged. “Am I at a body shop? How did I get here? “
“Where is my person? Why isn’t she driving me?” I remember a curvy two-lane road. We were on a Sunday drive. The road was damp and a little slick. My person was driving carefully. I knew I could handle these roads. No problem.
“You’re dead. Stop your yammering.”
She looked to the right with her one good eye and saw the red pick-up truck parked next to her.
“I killed you.”
“What?” She couldn’t be dead. She had miles and miles left in her. She was a driving machine.
Memories came in snatches. The beautiful curvy road she could handle. Her confidence in the corners. Then, a red blur in front of her as her person pulled off the road and stopped. Then BAM. She didn’t remember anything after that.
She started to feel pain and realized that her entire hood and engine compartment were crumpled and ruined. Nothing worked. Everything hurt.
“Maybe I can be fixed” she thought hopefully. She drifted off, dreaming about the roads she would drive, the curves she would handle with ease.
She woke up again when she heard voices. Not her person. Other people walking around her with clipboards, shaking their heads. “Totaled”, she heard. “This one isn’t worth fixing. It’s 10 years old and has 120,000 miles on it. It will cost more in repairs than it is worth.”
“I am dead” she thought. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.” But then she remembered her person patting her on the dashboard and on the bumper. Saying thank you for protecting them. She sighed. “I did my job” she thought. “I made driving fun for my person and I protected her when she needed it.”
Lunch is casual and delicious. Fish and Chips at The Tides Snack Bar in Bodega Bay on a Sunday afternoon, watching the seals while we eat. I like to drizzle malt vinegar on my fish and on my fries. “Let’s drive north to Jenner and take the long way back.” Marc suggested. “It should be a pretty drive.”
“Good idea.” I reply, nibbling on a fry dipped in tartar sauce. “But do you think the roads will be clear after all the flooding?”
“Should be.” That’s my husband – a man of few words. Then, “Oh crap. I wrote a check for Scott but forgot to take it to him.” Scott takes care of our garden.
“We can do it when we get back.” I say.
The weather is alternating between rain and drizzle. Normally by mid-May the hills start to turn golden. Not this year. Everything is still green because it won’t stop raining. We drive along with the muddy Russian River on one side and heavily wooded green hills on the other side. It is remote and beautiful. Peaceful.
Just past Duncan’s Mills we come upon a car crash. Three cars blocking the road. Smoke or steam rises from a grey sedan in the middle of the pile-up. People are pacing back and forth on the road, talking on cell phones. Others are checking on passengers.
“Should we stop and help?” I ask.
“No, there are lots of people here. I don’t know what we would add.”
I send out good wishes to those involved in the crash. I hope everyone is ok.
We turn around and headed back towards the coast.
About 2 miles down the road, I see a red pickup truck coming towards us using both lanes, fishtailing like mad around a corner. I don’t think. I just react. I pull as far as I can to the shoulder without driving in the thick mud at the side of the road. I don’t want to get stuck in the mud in such a remote area. I hit the brakes and stop. The truck swerves towards us. I see a blur of red. I close my eyes, pray and brace for impact. I hear Marc yell my name. I wonder why he’s yelling at me.
BAM. Not even a screech of brakes. Just BAM. Then silence.
I open my eyes and shake my head like I’m coming out of a dream. It feels like a dream. Nothing seems quite real. Am I dead? I don’t think so. I look at Marc. “Are you ok?”
“Yes. Are you ok?”
“I think so.” I look out the windshield at the crumpled mess that used to be my car’s hood. “My car is smoking.”
“Its just the radiator. It got smashed. Let’s get out of the car.”
I open the door with shaking hands and climb out of the car. The pickup truck driver is standing in the middle of the road looking befuddled.
“Are you ok?” I ask.
He says “Yeah but what the fuck, my drive shaft is broken. Are you ok? “
I look at the pieces of my car strewn along the side of the road and nod my head. I pull out my phone. No service. I can’t call for help. I don’t even know who I would call.
Marc takes flares out of the emergency kit in the trunk of my car and places them along the side of the road. Other drivers stop to ask if we are ok. Some stay and stand in the road to alert other drivers to the accident. I ask everyone I see to call for help.
Random thoughts run through my head. I don’t know how we’re going to get home. Or when. We need to take the check to Scott. The cat will be wanting his dinner. I can’t call anyone. What will happen to my car? How will I get around? Why was I worried about getting stuck in the mud? I should have pulled completely off the road. Maybe he would have missed us if I had.
“Stop.” Marc walks up and pulls me into his arms. “I can hear you thinking. You did everything right. We’re ok. We will get home. Stop worrying.” I shake in his arms.
I dig a pen and piece of paper out of my purse and give it to Marc so he can get the truck driver’s contact information. There’s something off about the guy. Then he walks closer and I realize what. He reeks of alcohol. He’s slurring his words. He’s drunk.
The guy gives us his phone number, tells us he has no insurance, and walks away, talking on his phone, leaving us abandoned on the side of the road in the drizzling rain. We wait.
Eventually a fire truck drives up. I tell the fireman that we were hit by a guy with no insurance who had been drinking and left the scene. He calls the Highway Patrol. We wait.
A tow truck arrives, and the driver starts to hook up the pick-up truck. “Why can’t you take our car first? The other guy left.”
“I’m here for the truck.” He won’t look me in the eyes.
“Can you at least call another tow truck for us? We don’t have cell service out here.”
Grumbling, he makes a call. “A truck will be here later.” We wait.
I see a Highway Patrol car driving towards us. I wave. I am so glad to see him. Even better, right behind him is a tow truck. The officer tells me that people are looking for the pick-up truck driver. The tow truck driver calls a taxi for us.
Two hours after we were hit, we’re in a warm, dry taxi driving home. I see what was left of my car go by on the tow truck and wave, thanking my car for protecting us. She was a good car. I will miss her.
The cat tells us he is starving. I pick him up and hug him – which he hates. I don’t care. I’m happy to be home.
Everything I read teaches me something. To be honest, sometimes it is a lesson not to waste time with mindless or inane writing. (Although sometimes that type of writing is a good escape.) More often, I take away new ways of thinking, notice a style of writing I like, or learn something about a person or a subject.
I am reading “Great Small Things” by Jodi Picoult. This isn’t the first of her novels I’ve read. She takes her characters on painful journeys of awareness with amazing gentleness. With this book, I appreciate the gentleness. It’s a hard book to read.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but on the surface, the book is about a black woman who is accused of killing an infant and is put on trial for murder. More importantly, it is a book about racism, discovery, injustice, and the complications that occur when we judge people because of appearance or beliefs. The world is not black and white. That is not a reference to skin color. It is a reference to justice and equity.
This book makes me wonder if I am an inadvertent racist. That thought disturbs me. A Lot. Scales have fallen from my eyes.
I grew up in a mostly white community. When I was young, I played with kids from the Native American reservation near our home. I played with kids from migrant farming families who traveled from Mexico to pick my uncle’s strawberries. I wasn’t aware of the differences between us. I was a kid. But my parents were aware of the differences and made sure to keep a distance. I just didn’t realize it. I wasn’t aware.
I lived in a house that my father built. Those girls I played with lived in reservation buildings or dormitories provided by my uncle. My family didn’t have a lot of money, but they had less. I didn’t care about material things when I was a kid. I cared about playing and imagining and being outside. I thought everyone was equal. But, I was naïve. I wasn’t aware.
When I got older, I was harassed because I am a woman. I was told I wasn’t qualified for a job because it would be distracting to the men working there. That was a huge insult and an injustice, but it is nothing compared to being told you can’t work somewhere or live somewhere because of the color of your skin or the way you worship or who you love. Because of who you are.
I am of Scandinavian descent. My skin is light. I have never been judged because of the color of my skin. I have never been afraid that someone would shoot me on sight or haul me off to jail because they assumed I did something wrong because of how I look. I can’t know how that feels because I’ve never been black or brown or male.
But, until now I haven’t thought much about white privilege. My family has struggles, and some of them are very difficult. I expect people to help when needed. Some people can’t expect help.
Jodi Picoult has made me face my white privilege. The only thing I can say to her is THANK YOU.
Can we end distrust of those who are different from us? Can we accept and appreciate the differences between us? Is there hope for us? I wish we could be color blind, religion blind, love blind. That isn’t realistic. We haven’t walked in each other’s shoes. But, we each have one heart.
We all have one heart.
Mom. Creative, imaginative, attractive, sexy. She had a great sense of humor. A cousin described here once as a deer. Beautiful, but wary. It was an apt description. Mom gave me my love of art, beauty, music, books. She loved to read. I grew up being read to, sung to, danced with, introduced to classical music, nurtured, and – most of all, loved. What can be better?
I miss Mom. But she lives in my heart and I still feel her arms around me when I need them.
Grandmothers. I have a child’s memory of my grandmothers.
I loved and adored my paternal grandmother. She was strong, brave, resilient. She loved to garden. She would don my grandfather’s old jeans and work shirt, pull on gloves and a hat, and work in the dirt. Then she would clean up, bake, and serve delicious cakes and cookies on elegant serving dishes. Her elegance was real, not affected. She would have laughed at being called elegant. I thought she could do anything. She had to. She homesteaded as a young married woman, traveled west in a Model A truck in the 1930s, and worked hard all her life. I don’t think she had a clue how much influence she had – and still has - on me.
I always felt loved and accepted by my maternal grandmother. She smelled like roses. She wore face powder, but no jewelry other than her gold wedding band. She wore her white hair in a bun. She dressed in flowered chiffon. She didn’t flinch when Marc and I rode up to her house, unannounced, on a motorcycle after camping for two days. She saw me, hugged me, and invited us in. She showed me to her bathroom where I could shower. Her second husband Henry (my grandfather’s brother – they married after my grandfather died.) was just a welcoming. He took Marc down to his shop in the basement and they talked about building stuff for hours. I never felt judged. I felt loved. Embraced with roses.
I am a mom. It’s a hard job. The hardest imaginable. But with the greatest rewards. I love my daughters and admire them. They have both become amazing women. I think about the morning each was born. Looking into their eyes and wondering who they were. My first daughter frightened me. I was not prepared to be a mom, and she had – has – deep blue eyes that see everything. She’s an old soul. I am so happy to be her mom. My youngest has a bright soul. She was born dancing and bringing joy. I am so happy to be her mom.
And, I have 5 grandkids. Wow. I love them all. They live too far away for me to be part of their daily lives. And, I didn’t know 4 of them until they were kids. I wish I could have known them all as babies.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Grandmas. Happy Mother’s Day.
I am haunted by oranges. I have oranges in a bowl in my kitchen, and blood orange ice cubes in the freezer. They may be behind this orange insanity. Those blood orange ice cubes can call all they want. I can ignore them. I am saving them for future recipes.
A couple weeks ago I made a very involved flour-less orange cake that I love. The recipe requires simmering whole oranges, skin on, for two hours and then whirring them in the food processor – skin and all until they look like pumpkin puree but smell like oranges. That part’s a little disconcerting. The recipe calls for almond meal and lots of eggs and it is cooked in a spring form pan. Involved, but delicious. Especially a couple of days later when the slightly bitter flavor dissipates, and the cake is moist and yummy with a cup of coffee. On the day I bake the cake, I serve it with chocolate sauce – a fantastic combination. Joy of Cooking has a good recipe for a chocolate Cockaigne sauce that is sublime.
Last weekend, I made a very involved orange-chicken salad to take to a party. The first step is to Supreme 3 oranges, squeeze out as much juice as possible from the membranes, and save the orange segments to top the salad. You poach the chicken in the orange juice, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and more ingredients. Then let it cool. Then shred it. Then combine it with shredded cabbage, red bells, scallions, cilantro and almonds. I Supremed, squeezed, cooked, shredded, and sliced for 3 hours to make this salad. It was delicious. Was it worth 3 hours of effort? I don’t know.
Cooking is grounding for me. Healing. But involved recipes remind me that sophisticated, complicated flavors require much more effort than most of us realize. I have fun pretending to be a sophisticated cook, creating symphonic, operatic meals. But to be honest, I much prefer cooking simply and letting fresh, local ingredients sing their songs. Simple melodies. Folk songs. Satisfying songs. Delicious songs, like the song of the orange I am going to peel and eat right now.
“Do you think they’ll come?” I ask? “Will our being here scare them off?”
They’ll be here,” Deb replied. “They party every year on the anniversary of the first Beau Brummels Band concert they attended sometime in the 1960s.”
“Are you sure that isn’t just an urban legend?” asked Mike, Deb’s husband. “I don’t think it’s real.”
“Have more faith.” This from Deb.
We are at the abandoned big red party barn just outside of Petaluma. The barn is rumored to be haunted by the band that used to play there and the people who danced and partied with them.
It’s nearly dark. We sneak in, climb the creaking stairs to the second floor, and wait. Four mounted deer heads watch from the wall behind the drum set. They witnessed the first party – and all those that followed. But they aren’t talking.
Cobwebs trail from the deer’s horns. Dust covers the musty couches and chairs. I sneeze. An empty Champagne bottle sits on a side table. No living person has climbed these stairs for a very long time.
Marc, my husband, walks around the room. He stops and fiddles with some wires, and suddenly we have light from a thousand small bulbs strung around the room. He smiles.
We aren’t spring chickens ourselves. Two of us are retired. Three of us are eligible for Medicare. We remember the music of the 1960s. We may have been children, but we were there. And now we’re waiting for the party to start.
They come slowly, gliding up the stairs. The band comes first. The drummer sits behind his drum set centered between the deer heads. The other three band member come next. One is wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt and a fedora. He takes his place in front of the drums and plugs in his bass guitar. The other two guitar players take their places at left and right.
Others drift in until the room is full. A woman with very short blonde hair talks and laughs with her big black dog on a couch near the stairs. A man wearing a fringed scarf and a Panama hat sits at a table near the center of the room. Two women are at a cocktail table near me, sharing a bottle of Proseco and enjoying the evening. A woman wearing a home-died, layered, fringed skirt and boots comes up the stairs with her partner, wearing tie-die. An ethereal woman with long white hair floats up the stairs with grace. She is beautiful. They’re all slightly transparent.
The air fills with a funky miasma of patchouli and musk, incense and pot.
The music starts. The band covers songs from Beau Brummels Band, Jefferson Airplane, the Beatles, and more. The barn is rocking. The deer heads watch. Some ghosts smoke pot and just sit there being mellow. Some sing along with the band.
The woman and the dog dance, the dog wagging his tail and grinning. A man gets up to dance. A woman wearing a tank top and tight jeans sways to the music. Everyone dances together. No partner, no problem. Move to the music. Grove to the vibes.
They don’t seem to notice that they have living guests. Or if they notice, they don’t care. One of them asks Deb to dance. She declines. I wished he had asked me. I would have danced. I am delighted with the scene unfolding before us.
After a couple hours the band stops playing. The guests start to drift down the stairs; some fading fast, some still translucent. We living guests walk down, our footsteps ringing on the stairs.
They rock once a year. They live on – long live rock and roll.
I step off the plane onto a misty, windy tarmac, pull my sweater closer around me and sprint to the terminal. After turbulent flights, I am happy to put my feet on the ground.
Inside, I step on the escalator down to the luggage carousels and see my cousin waiting for me. Our eyes meet. We smile. In an instant, I am a teenager getting together with my beautiful, sophisticated, talented, amazing -just slightly older cousin. We share a birthday. She’s older. That’s me being snarky.
I walk faster. We hug. Strong and long. With love. Just beneath the surface of that love is resilience and a huge need to see the ocean.
We collect my luggage and are off. Inga stopped at Pikes Market in Seattle before meeting me at SeaTac. The trunk of her rental car is filled with yummy ingredients for some of the food we will cook together. And with wine. I have chocolate in my bag.
Three hours later, we park in front of a charming beach cottage owned by Inga’s friend. It is dark. We stumble. And giggle. But we manage to put the key into the lock and open the door. And walk inside.
The windows in the back of the cottage open to the ocean. A vast panorama of ocean. It is heart-stopping, breath-taking. Powerful. Even in the dark. Maybe especially in the dark.
I choose the upstairs sleeping loft and open the window so I can hear and smell the ocean while I sleep.
After coffee the next morning, we walk along the beach. The ocean gives us gifts of magical designs in the sand. And a sand dollar, whole, with a barnacle ornament.
“Look! A bald eagle!” Inga shouts so her voice could be heard over the roar of the ocean. Soaring just overhead, the eagle lands in a fir tree at the edge of the beach and watches us from her perch. “She’s keeping her eyes on us”. Strong magic.
We hike back to the cottage and gather our bags so we can make the hour-long drive to the store for more provisions. “Crab, good crusty bread, and an orange,” I chant, memorizing my grocery list. We have butter and garlic and parsley. I am making oven roasted crab for dinner. We make three stops before we find crab. At the first stop, the woman at the counter looks at us and shakes her head. “You must not be from around here. The crabs are migrating. They aren’t in their usual spots and the fisherman can’t find them. Do you want some frozen crab?” “No!” we say in unison. Same story at the second stop. I imagine crabs making their way slowly across the ocean floor chased by fishermen waving their fists in the air. “Stop so we can catch you!”
At the third stop, we tell the fish monger our tale of woe. She shakes her head and tells us she has a pot of crabs that have been out of the ocean for an hour. “Those other people are just trying to sell you their frozen crab. They’re lazy.” she says as she picks out a large crab and cleans it for us.
The crab is delicious.
“Is there someone standing behind me?” I ask. “I feel something. Not frightening, but definitely present. It’s an old man with a beard. He used to sit here before this cabin was built. He’s trying to tell me something.”
Inga is one of a small group of people who don’t waver when I say things like this. “I don’t see anyone. Do you see him?”
“No, I just feel his presence.”
“Ask him what he wants.”
“He won’t tell me. He says I need to figure it out on my own. It’s my journey.”
“Hmm,” Inga says as she gets up to pace the floor. She stops near the door. “Lynn, come to the front door.”
I get up from the dining room chair and walk toward the door. The air gets colder as I approach the door. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stand up. This presence is menacing. We don’t feel safe. “You aren’t welcome here!” I yell. “Go away!”
“We need noise.” Inga runs to the kitchen and grabs two pots and two wooden spoons. We march around the cabin banging on pots and yelling “go away”. We bang pots in corners and in the closet. We bang pots and yell until our arms are tired and our voices scratchy. The menacing presence is gone. I don’t feel the least bit embarrassed by our dance or our concert. It worked. The cabin is a calm oasis again. But the old man didn’t tell me about my journey.
A golden eagle flies in front of us as we make yet another treck from the cabin. Its raining today. Too cold and wet for walking on the beach. This time, we are searching for interesting local art. The eagle points the way. I find a lovely vintage jacket, which I buy. We browse beautiful carvings and paintings but take nothing with us but the joy of exploring together.
Later, searching through the drawers in the cabin’s small kitchen, I find a brush I can use to clean morels and fiddleheads. Inga preps the halibut cheeks and fresh pasta. I mince garlic and dill. Another feast is in the making. Delicious.
Some women pamper themselves with massages, pedicures, and scented oils. We pamper ourselves with local ingredients and a kitchen. And music – Billie Holiday sings on the small CD player. The ocean roars softly in the background. A fire – that we made – warms the room. My nails could use some pampering. I don’t care. My soul is fed.
Early Monday morning, we yawn as we pack up the rental car and head towards the airport. Before getting in the car, we say goodbye to the ocean. I ask again what I’m supposed to find. But the ghost is gone, and the ocean isn’t talking. It’s my journey.
The sand dollar sits with my other ocean gifts. I am still on my journey.
Do clothes make us who we are?
Are clothes important to our image?
Or do they give us something to hide behind?
But why do we hide?
Why do we hide behind how we dress?
Is it really so hard for us to love ourselves for who we are?
Naked, we are stripped to our essence.
Our true selves.
Nothing to hide.
Naked, we aren’t dressed for success.
No faking it until we make it.
We are just who we are.
Naked, we present no pretty package
Neatly pressed or cozily wrinkled.
No colors that match our eyes.
Naked, we can’t hide.
It takes courage to show ourselves as who we are.
Being naked in public is the stuff of nightmares.
Clothed we can hide
Behind a beautiful sweater
Or a favorite pair of jeans.
But what are we hiding?
And why do we hide?
Are we hiding from ourselves?
Is it really so hard for us love ourselves for who we are?