Monday, November 11, 2013
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.