There are things that just occur to you sometimes, like this year was my twentieth on the Cape. It is as vivid to me today as it was twenty years ago that my Summer Sister scooped me up and brought me to a porch with a rocking chair in a picturesque town to try and exhale, or at lease stop hyperventilating. Exhaling might have to wait a few years. She is dear to me in the way she curated my new beginning, this new place, the possibilities. Thus began my healing, her healing, our everlasting friendship and the sand in our shoes.
We would return over and over, each year around the same time, in the middle of summer between my sister’s birthday and himself’s birthday to a lovely B & B to do what we do on the Cape. First, lobster at the Squire. Come hell or high water we were there, grubby from the ride, once during a hurricane (Danny I believe) it was always first on the list. It was the event that began our visit on the Thursday we arrived. That’s right we were Thursday to Sunday girls, swooping in for a whirlwind, get everything out of our systems and hit the highlights and be on our way refreshed and sure that we had covered everything. Our highlights were the Friday night band concert in the town square, the whatever-was-being-performed at the Monomoy Theater, and at least two more exquisite dinners. We once had lobster at every meal. Our days were spent at the beach, reading from each other’s “bag-o-books” (there were no readers then) and talking through whatever needed to be talked through.
This was the first decade, not sure I’d ever see those words coming out of me but there they are. I began my Chatham Pottery collection during that time, picked up my camera again (then put it down…) we both learned more about perennial gardens and booked our next year’s visit on the way out of town. There came a time when our favorite B&B was sold and there was nowhere to book for the following year.
Enter Willow Street. My dear friends owned a home in West Harwich that served as a summer rental, and so began the next decade on the Cape. The Thursday through Sunday became Sunday to Sunday. The throw-a-few –things in a bag became, the clothing bag, the kitchen bag, the “bag-o-books” and later still there was a dog bag (that blessing needs an entire other post). The middle of summer became a week in June and a week in September. There were times when we were all on the Cape and times when it was just me.
I have to say that I sometimes fantasized about living year round on the Cape and everyone would come to visit. I would perhaps own the little house on Willow Street someday but then my life changed in a truly epic way. The advent of condo living on my beloved Stowe Lane changed my life; my views of home ownership, my tolerance for being away from it grew thinner and thinner. The little house on Willow faded out of the vision for my life with its tiny kitchen and maintenance requirements. I became immediately enamored with paying a maintenance fee and things happening, like lawns being cut and trimmed, gutters being cleaned and most importantly SNOW being plowed. Thank you very much.
In this twentieth year I must confess I was a bit underwhelmed at packing the assortment of bags for my week on the Cape, I was disappointed that those friends who thought they could join me weren’t able to swing it, I was a little bit more rickety after getting out of the well-worn bed and the girls were having a little trouble with the three mile walk to and from the beach. One of the true highlights has become meeting up with the Aunt Ms in Ptown. That thrills me and brings the Cape feeling back over and over. The beach still had its hold on me though and I love love love a screaming hot latte in the early morning on the beach with no one around. The smell of the Cape is like a salve for me I can’t get enough of it and it is impossible to duplicate.
This was the first year in many years that I was able to see a performance at the Monomoy. They usually don’t begin the season until July but I was thrilled to take myself to see Kiss Me Kate. The kids were fabulous, they killed the Tom, Dick and Harry number and the Too Darn Hot number was awesome as well but it wasn’t the same as sharing it with my Summer Sister. The funniest part was my will-call was first row on the aisle. Apparently that was Jane’s seat and the dear bitty subscribers were whispering up a storm, there is no subtlety from year rounder’s on the Cape. From two rows back I hear, “Is Jane coming back?” The woman seated next to me patted my hand and turned around to tell them Jane would not be coming back. This sets up a whole another scenario, “So dear, are you on the Cape alone?” I half expected to see Sam Shepard (Baby Boom) enter from the garden….you can’t make it up but it was much appreciated to be swept up by the bittys.
And so it was with a bit of relief that I found out that the house on Willow Street was sold and the closing would be in August. Ever the helpful woman, Trudy, had several options for me. There was a week in July, two other rentals to check out or a refund. My heart told me to accept the refund and keep open to the possibilities. For those of you who know my very dear friend Terry, you will know exactly what this sounded like: So San??? Is this the end of an era?
God I hope not…there were so many breakthroughs this year. First, not crying all the way through my four hour conversation with my Father on the way up was not the least among them. Then the realization that, I’m really still a Thursday to Sunday kind of traveler, I am thrilled to walk back into my home.
The blessing of Uncle Pete taking care of the girls so I can be away without a care in the world. But the Cape is still part of me and helped make me what I am today. The Cape taught me to exhale, walk more, eat fine food, be alone but not lonely, share myself with perfect strangers wherever I went. I could no more give up the Cape then give up writing.
They say once you can talk about it without emotion you are well on your way to being healed, in my case the “it” was the hard life I left behind, but the friendship that has remained. The “it” was the constant worry that has been replaced by the “know like I know” that I have some power. My life now is indeed running rings around the way it used to be and yes there are times that I do wish I’d started long before I did but would it be as it is now? So much water underneath the bridge, for now I am looking forward to the Summer Sisters return to the Cape. I know like I know we can figure that out.