It got cool this past weekend. And we’ve had cool days this summer but this was different. This was cool with the autumn in it. As if fall slips in a bit of flavor, like a drop or two of vanilla, making the recipe of late summer more complex.
It’s a strange time, yes, but summer has been so sweet here in this cottage. No travel, no big events, busy but not panicked, the chaos factor turned low, which it turns out, I like. The cool brings with it a slight, sweet, sadness. .
Friday afternoon I told Bobby I really needed to get away this coming weekend. It will be our last chance to get any taste of summer. So we decided to go to Provincetown. You all heard me talk about that last week. It’s an annual pilgrimage.
We’d leave Thursday after the show, drive to the Cape, stay in our usual motel, visit the beach, all the things. But on Saturday, I realized, I don’t know what I was thinking, I have a writing group on Thursday nights so we’d have to wait until after the show on Friday and then go.
Yesterday, Bobby said he had concerns--the drive to Provincetown is about 6-7 hours. So we’d get there late on Friday with a couple of hours driving in the dark. We’d have Saturday and Sunday and then have to drive another 6-7 hours back on Monday and then my week would be playing catch up.
“It’s too much.” He said.
I felt the beach slipping away from under me, the lobster roll being gently taken out of my hand, the light of the cape fading, fading.
We decided to go somewhere closer. A drive through the Berkshires, maybe Williamstown to visit the Clark, a beautiful museum we’ve been to once before. We settled on the town of Bennington, Vermont, just over the Masschussett’s border about an hour and forty five minutes from here.
I’ve been to Bennington before, the production of Midsummer that I was in when I met Bobby had a stop at Bennington College, fourteen years ago this coming weekend. We weren’t planning it that way but that’s how it happened.
I come from a nostalgic family. It’s dangerous, that legacy--always looking back toward some other time or place that maybe never existed. Nostalgia can be a fantasy for a past we never had. How do we stay in the present, especially as we get older? It’s been hard during the shutdown to not dwell on the way things used to be, the ways we used to live, the places we would go.
I called my mom last night. She’s on her own in her house and I’m still not sure how we’re going to get her out of there.
I can tell by her voice as soon as she picks up the phone what kind of state she’s in. Last night she was in a sort of drifty place. She said, “I just don’t understand what’s happening.”
She means in our country.
“The post office keeps emailing me telling me that they’re going to be closed down. I’ve never been through anything like this.”
I was cooking while we talked and mostly I listened. She talked about the fires, the heatwave, the post office, the election and how is she going to sell the house?
Toward the end of the conversation she said, “When you were born, I was put in a room on the ground floor of the hospital. They didn’t allow kids in the maternity ward back then, I think they probably do now. Anyway, dad brought your brothers and they all stood outside the window and waved at us, you were in my arms. They were so happy.”
She told me this around my birthday. And she has told me this before. How could she not want to visit that time? Such hope and joy, the fullness of life spreading out before her.
The place where Bobby and I booked our hotel room is called the Paradise Inn. Ever since we made the reservation he’s taken to saying, “We’re going to Paradise this weekend.”
There was a girl I went to school with the year I spent in Switzerland. It was an extraordinary time, we were teenagers. At some point that year someone asked Jill how it was going for her.
“I’m looking forward to the memories.” she said.
We made fun of her, what a kook. It was such a dumb way of talking about a time we were having, right then. But as I was telling you just now about visiting Paradise I thought, “I’m looking forward to the memories. Memories of Paradise.”