"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Monday, November 11, 2013


The weekend could have been a disaster. Maybe even should have been. The circumstances for a ruined adventure jumped on like fleas on a dog in summer.

When I opened the card from Walt on Tuesday, birthday morning, the weekend ahead contained all the elements for a perfect romantic getaway. A drive down the Oregon coast on a school day (we both took personal days). Breakfast, our favorite traveling meal, at a new place en route. The promise of all the shopping my heart desired along the way. Things at home left in the capable and loving hands of our favorite critter sitter and her family. Our destination a highly rated bed and breakfast that looked like a European chateau in the website picture.

The first bump in the road happened on Thursday night. Out of the blue we lost water pressure. We're on a well. It was after hours. There was no one to come help us until morning. Which would have delayed our departure by who-knew-how-long. Some time after I went to bed, the pressure returned, so that by the time we left on Friday morning, it was as though nothing had happened.

Our breakfast restaurant, a place Walt found on the internet, was clearly a local fixture, slightly grimy and packed to the door with people who all seemed to know each other. It was a seat-yourself place, depending on people to be honorable. We'd gotten a late start and were both hungry, so leaving wasn't a good option. We resigned ourselves to waiting. Tables emptied with surprising speed, and soon we found ourselves standing alone with just one other couple who had walked in just before us. A table came open. The woman of the couple asked her husband if he'd mind sitting at the bar, and then told us to take the table. That one small act of kindness stayed with me for the rest of the weekend. Plus the breakfast was good.

The drive was fun. We chatted about things we never seem to have time for in our busy day-to-day: retirement, vacations, house needs, school, holidays, family. We shopped. We laughed. We held hands. So when we finally arrived at the bed and breakfast we were in a happy state of mind and looking for the magic to continue.

My first sight of the place was breathtaking. A turret and cedar that glowed in the late afternoon light. It did truly look like something out of a fairy tale. The innkeeper was warm and welcoming, the living room beachy comfortable, the dining room cute and inviting. Walt had reserved the Heather Room for us. The walls were a beautiful shade of purple. We could see the ocean from the windows.

The next morning Walt began the conversation with his disappointment in the room. I was relieved. There was no way I was going to be disappointed with something he'd worked so hard to provide for the sole purpose of pleasing me. There was no one big thing, but so many little things. The bed and pillows were uncomfortable. A strong mildew odor permeated the air. The noise from the highway that separated us from the ocean kept us from hearing the waves crashing. Perhaps things to be expected from a standard mom-and-pop beach motel, but not from a very expensive B&B that promoted itself as a retreat from the cares of the world.

Breakfast that first morning was good, and we set out on our day with good energy and high hopes. Despite my lingering bronchitis and Walt's newly developing sore throat. A long satisfying walk on the beach in mild still air. More shopping. A stop for coffee that turned out to be exceptionally good during which a man with shoe-polish black hair curling around his face struck up a conversation. It was his dog that opened the door. A sweet terrier-sized mutt with huge paws that he told incredible tales about: a mixture of Saint Bernard and corgi, trained by the queen, drug sniffing and recently took down a large man by the throat. I couldn't quite figure the guy out. He was clean and articulate, although his stories were wilder than any a child might tell. He was vain enough to color the mop of hair his hat barely contained, although it might have been a wig. The missing front tooth further complicated the picture. I was enjoying the experience and the dog, although I could feel Walt at my side wanting to get us both away from there. Finally, the point of the conversation became clear: he tried to sell me a necklace made of beads found at some archeological site for a price far below their true value because he needed gas money. I let Walt pull me away, feeling weirdly more alive and richer for the conversation.

The rest of the weekend was much the same. Huge disappointments (our second breakfast of cold and undercooked vegetable hash and over-poached eggs) absorbed, laughed at, moved on from. Delightful surprises (two baldies dancing in the air overhead as we drove home) received with gratitude and awe. The time together an adventure we'll treasure forever, as much because of the challenges as in spite of them.

What better way to start a new year than knowing we can roll with it all, finding love and adventure anywhere we're together. Even in the later years of life, understanding it's possible to achieve new levels of contentment and acceptance and wonder unconnected to circumstance.


Barb said...

Deb, I appreciated the story of your adventures and misadventures! It is always about attitude, isn't it? Either we can be over-critical and miserable, or we can flow with life and try to find some positive spin. Sometimes, a less than ideal situation heightens the adventure! Belated birthday wishes - have a fabulous year!

Sandi said...

Aw, Deb! I'm so glad you and Walt relished your time together, and made lemonade out of lemons. As Barb mentioned before, attitude is everything. So often, it's easier to find the grunge instead of the silver lining.

Hope your year just gets better and better! Love you bunches!

lily cedar said...

I'm learning to let things go as I get older as well, kinda.

The beach sounds wonderful, any beach sounds wonderful as I look outside at the snow. Sigh.

yaya said...

Happy birthday Deb! A good adventure spent with your hubby...so fun! Your weekend proves that it's the journey more than the destination that makes life interesting!

Linda Myers said...

A mixed bag of delights - glad you took the time to get away together.

Retired English Teacher said...

The weekend was memorable! You won't forget it. Attitude is everything. The others are right.

Jim & I have happened upon some strange B & B's over the years. One just never knows. I just wish you would have had a comfortable bed.

Here's to a wonderful year...

Linda Reeder said...

Well, you had an adventure. As with most adventures, you take the good with the bad. Best of all was that you shared it with your loving husband.

DJan said...

We always expect it to be different, reality that is. I am so glad you guys had an adventure, even with thorns, and hope that your year ahead will be filled with even more satisfying ones. Happy birthday, Deb! :-)

Pam said...

This made for great reading Deb. A friend and her husband, sometimes had a 'for personal reasons' day off when teaching became stressful and called it a marital health day.
A win-win because it gave two substitute teachers an income also!
You and Walt have a good attitude - it helps to be flexible and adaptable when things can be a bit disappointing or difficult, and as you've noted there's always good things to be found!
Life's too short to grumble much.
That friend's husband died recently -I know she remembers how important it was for them to enjoy each other's company and share their memories of adventures together.

Mark Lyons said...

The weekend adventure may have fallen short of expectations, but the picture you share with us through your words is anything but! I'm glad there were some high points and that the time with Walt was special.

Love you

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"understanding it's possible to achieve new levels of contentment and acceptance and wonder"

My husband and I are learning that, too. Or, I am. Happy belated birthday. Cheers to the new year.

kario said...

I have had a few of those types of days lately and I have discovered how lovely it is to take each bump in stride and move on instead of stringing them all together in an unhappy story that confirms a negative view of the world. I'm certain it is a habit that can be finely tuned with more practice. Thanks for reminding me to keep at it!