As a teenager, I loved to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Invariably, I would be woken by the loud and disjointed sounds of my mother in the kitchen, by her laughter as she spoke on the phone, by drawers closing, and cupboards slamming, and pans banging. I. Hated. It. I would lie in bed fuming with the certainty that this was all a part of her ploy to get me out of bed (it was) and furious that I could not be left to sleep in the undisturbed silence I deserved.
When I moved out, it was the very sound I missed the most. It is a strange feeling when you first head out in the world on your own. So often you crave that sense of returning, that all-encompassing sense of shelter offered when you’re safely sleeping in a house that you are not responsible for. I miss that feeling the most.
The first morning here, I woke early to the sounds of pots and pans in the kitchen. I sat up in bed, pulled the down comforter around me, noted the beautiful sky as it changed colors, and listened to the miraculous sound of Melanie making breakfast below. Melanie…. Making breakfast.
I’m not sure I can adequately describe what this phenomenon is like. Melanie raised four boys, was the consummate football mom who prepared meals large enough to feed the entire team, and she doesn’t mess around with breakfast. Each morning that there are guests (and there have been guests each morning that I’ve been here), Melanie prepares a huge, four-course breakfast, the kind that negates the need to eat again until dinner.
This is the thing I didn’t know I needed. To be cared for. Melanie gets that too, because not only did she raise four boys, she did it alone for the latter years. Which I can’t even wrap my head around. I love the island and its beauty and the quaint little houses and all the people but what I really love is to watch the sky grow light from my bed and listen to Melanie make breakfast.
The cottage has four bedrooms upstairs, all of which share a single bathroom. I say this because, perhaps, that is the other thing I needed. Not to share bathrooms necessarily, but to share space. After months and months of quarantine, it feels so good to move in and out of life with other people. Most guests only stay a night or two, but always around breakfast there are stories and conversations that feed the soul in a really necessary kind of way.
And in between I bundle up in ten layers because the wind is always blowing and the damp is always brisk and when you sit for long periods of time, you just get really cold! And then you walk outside and realize it isn’t ten layers worth of cold, only two layers worth of mildly chilly.
This morning, I started writing before I even came downstairs, which Melanie noticed. I crept down for coffee and crept back up and five minutes later, with a knock and a flourish, Melanie appeared with breakfast.
I asked for what I needed on this trip and it was provided but so too were many things that I didn’t know I needed and didn’t dare to ask for. Which makes me want to weep and touch my face to the ground. Like when you with someone on an island that is home to a dozen lobstermen, sometimes they walk out the back door and snag a few fresh ones for dinner. Which Melanie also did.
I feel like I’m an athlete running a marathon only with words that simultaneously agonize and liberate and Melanie is my coach cheering me on from the finish line. And you guys. You keep cheering too. Thank you for the encouraging texts and emails. I’m sorry I don’t always respond but also right now my brain is single-mindedly focused like a squirrel facing winter only with hoards of words instead of nuts.
Also thank you to mama for loving and feeding my teenage daughter and forcing her to see daylight every now and then. I know that’s not an easy task.
That’s it guys.