Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coralside....some more


The drive was helping to clear her head. She kept flashing back to the last thing they talked about, “why do you have to leave?” He asked. “I told you, it’s time for me to be my own person.” He looked at her with that stare that drove her crazy, the one where it made her feel like she was less than, like she couldn’t think for herself. She knew he would never get it, nor would he ever try. It didn’t matter anymore anyway, her home was gone and she needed to make a life for herself unencumbered by the guilt and the burdens.

As she curved and wound through the low hills, cresting and sinking again into the valleys she started to feel lighter. Maybe it was the light scent of the ocean the wafted through the open windows as her hair blew all around her. She kept thinking she should have tied her hair back, but felt like the only way to be truly free was to let it whip around her, dancing as she wished she could. She was getting closer, the salty air was getting heavier and she could see seagulls off in the distance and the cypress trees were beginning to appear on the horizon. She did not call ahead, but figured it was the off season and she could get a room at Cove House, where she stayed before. Cove House and her mistress, Josephine, offered her solace and comfort when she lost her Grandmother and then again when Leo walked out.

When she pulled up outside of Cove House, it was as if everything that was weighing her down was suddenly lifted from her shoulders and she could move and breathe without restriction. She shut the engine off and just sat with the windows down, breathing, slow, full, deep breaths. Again, she became lost in thought and wondered what she was doing here. How did her heart know to come here, to Cove House, to the ocean and this little town?

She was so lost in thought she did not notice Josephine sitting in her rocker on the porch, lemonade in hand, watching her. When she regained herself, she got out of the car and stretched, pulling out a big yawning stretch, arms in the air, body twisting “uuuuahahhhhnnnnn, waaaa, uugghh.”Josephine laughed, heartily, “Girl, WHAT are you doing here?” Startled from the reverie of her yawning stretch and Josephine’s exclamation, she giggled, and ran for the porch, “I’m here to start my life, my real life. Feel like being my coach?” she asked. As she landed at the top steps, at the south end of the porch, sunlight dancing in her auburn hair, Josephine laughed with more gusto and told her, “You don’t need a coach; you are the best coach you’ll ever need. But, I’d be happy to watch you stumble along and bandage your scrapes.”

She sat down in the rocker next to Josephine’s and began to cry, big, racking, snot pouring sobs. Josephine reached over and put her hand upon Ryleigh’s hand, squeezing just so, every couple of seconds. Ryleigh cried for what seemed like an hour and when she had no more left, not one single tear, she suddenly felt very tired and sleepy. Josephine wasn’t the kind of person who pried, when someone was ready to tell her what they needed to purge themselves of, she just listened. Ryleigh wasn’t ready yet but in the morning, after some rest and a meal, she would be ready to shed the past and begin sorting out who she really was and deciding what she really wanted.

Josephine looked her over and smiled at her, a very soft, knowing, kind smile and grabbed her hand and said, “Let’s get you inside, feed you and put you to bed for the night and in the morning you can tell me what you need.” Ryleigh followed, in an exhausted stupor, through the screen door into Cove House. The house smelled of the ocean, salty, sandy and fresh and of gardenia and lilac. The house had been around since the early 1900’s and over the decades each new generation of Josephine’s family added their little touches to the property. Her aunt before her loved gardenia and lilac therefore she planted both under each of the ground floor windows. This made for a lovely kind of room freshener only Mother Nature could provide.

Ryleigh had the presence of mind to know she needed to grab some things out of her car, so after a light dinner of fresh basil and tomato salad, dressed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and crusty homemade bread she went back out to get her things. It was still light outside and now that she was a little more in control of her awareness, she noticed a few changes around the grounds. Set behind the main house was a smaller cottage with a big screened sun porch on the west facing side, where you could see the ocean as she lapped at the shore. It was just getting to be dusk and there were lights on in the cottage, she never noticed anyone use the cottage on her previous visits, in fact, she thought it had been boarded up. She found herself staring at the cottage, the glow of the interior lights soft and warm, thinking how nice it might be to have a little place just like that to call her own.

She grabbed her suitcase, her camera bag and her computer and headed back into the house. Josephine had already prepared a room for her, pulling down the bed covers, filling the water jug, and opening up the windows. It was the same room she stayed in on all of her other visits, on the west side of the house, facing the ocean. It wasn’t right to stay in a place near the ocean and not be able to gaze upon it from your room. Josephine understood Ryleigh’s love of ocean and always made sure to put her in this room.

Peace

1 comment:

CatLadyLarew said...

Wow! I wish I'd had a place like that to go when my husband left, along with a Josephine to pick me up and dust me off.