"I'm sorry. Your room's not quite ready. It might be another hour before it is."
It's five, an hour after check-in time. I've just driven three hours and I'm ready to settle in. Room not ready is not acceptable.
The girl over-smiling at me from across the counter is probably not legal to drink. She's adorable with her long curly hair, big-eyed sincerity, and party girl earrings. I'm tired and irritated and not willing to be diverted by her alternatives.
"I'll call you on your cell phone when the room is ready. Have you eaten dinner yet? There are some great places close by."
"I don't use my cell phone, and I brought my food with me. I'm here to work and I really need to be in my room. What can you do to make that happen?"
"Oh we have a business center. You can work there while you wait. Did I ask you if you'd had dinner yet? Those are cute earrings. I really like dragonflies."
And so it went.
There were four adult women standing around behind my still-smiling friend during this exchange yesterday. When it became clear I wasn't going away, one of them offered to go see what she could do. Another came up to the counter and said, "That's the boss woman. She'll take care of you. If this were happening to me, I'd stand up on the counter and get loud until someone got me what I wanted."
I wondered why they were letting the youngest one of the bunch take the heat, and I found myself feeling sorry for her. While we were standing there waiting for boss lady to figure something out, I told her I knew none of this was her fault and I appreciated how hard she was trying to make me happy. For a second I thought she was going to cry, and then she thanked me for understanding.
Time passed, I held my place at the counter, and my new friend wandered away to some easier task. The standing-on-the-counter lady came back over, introduced herself as the young woman's mother and shook my hand. "She's so much better at this job than I am. So much more patient. I'm really proud of her."
What flashed through my brain first was relief that I'd been gracious and not unkind to this woman's daughter. That would not always have been the case, and it somehow felt like I'd aced a pop quiz. It also felt like an auspicious beginning. (I did also sort of wonder what Mom would have done had I turned mean, and was grateful I didn't know.)
Finally settled into my room, I hurried to the edge of the beach where I ended my day (and began this adventure) witnessing the kind of sunset that makes people fall in love, accompanied by the jazzy bass celebration of frogs that makes people want to make love. I felt a calm sureness, a sense of rightness, that only now in my life am I beginning to recognize as the inner love that some people call God.
I'm at the beach for three full days of solitude and uninterrupted writing. I'm here to find my way back into my story, to allow the next version to find its way to the surface, to honor the battered heart from which it needs to flow. Because of the not-done room and my persistence, they gave me a different room. This one with a view of the ocean that the other one did not have.
The the sky is blue and bright this morning, a pair of mallards dabble in the pond beneath my deck, sparrows call to each other in the salt-stunted pines. I'm going for a long stroll on the boardwalk in a few minutes to allow the sun and ocean air and wave's whispers to reach into my heart and open it so the story can flow out.
The top picture was taken from my deck right after I got to my room. The second picture was taken just before I headed back in after the sunset. Yes, I do in fact know to my core how very blessed I am to be here - both literally and figuratively.