6:30 am…….wake up time. You would think that I would be annoyed, waking up this early on my vacation, but strangely, it does not bother me at all. I know that I will take a nap later in the day and that I do not need to be particularly conscious for the day’s activities anyway…….The sun shines brightly in the cabin and trying to sleep any longer than 6:30 simply doesn’t work, unless you have one of those sleeping masks like Thurston and Lovey Howell used to wear on Gilligan’s Island.
Allan begins bumping around in the cabin. He puts the water on for coffee. I lie awake in the bunk, listening to the sounds of the harbor; the waves gently lapping on the side of the boat, the birds (so many different bird calls…..), the wind whistling or howling- depending on the day. The fresh air has lulled me into a state of liquid relaxation. My high strung, high energy personality cannot function in this environment- so I have left it at home. I sometimes wonder which is the real me. The one running around doing a million tasks; entertaining twenty preschoolers with songs and puppets using silly voices, making my co-workers laugh, drinking Starbucks all day while I manage my household and my mother’s care, master Biblical Greek and write a research paper on the history of Catholicism in America? Is that person the real me; or is this person, lying here listening to the sounds of the harbor waking up, my mind deliriously empty of all planning???
I don’t have to answer that question right now. I don’t have to answer any questions today except- do I want blueberry or caramel nut coffee? Which book do I want to take to the beach? Do we want to go the dock and get fresh, homemade donuts for breakfast? That is about as tricky as it is going to get for me today…….
We dingy in. We hang out on the dock. More coffee. Fresh donuts. We take a walk to the beach. Tropical Storm Arthur came through this week and the waves are crashing on Church’s Beach (how cool that my favorite beach in the world is named Church’s??). We sit on the rocks and watch the waves crash. There is nowhere we have to be. There is nothing we need to do. There are competent, kind and caring people staying with my Mother this week. I am off duty……
It took me a few days to let it all go. For the first few days, my mind kept churning with all of the possible things that could go wrong at home. My Mother could fall. She could get lost. She could be anxious about us being away. She could perseverate……I am a bad daughter for leaving her. I am selfish. Then, after a few days, I realized that any of those things could just as easily happen when I am on duty at home. I try to keep this craziness in my head away from Allan. He needs a vacation from this too.
We hike. We visit. We chat at the dock. We buy and reserve lobsters for dinner on the boat tonight. We stop at the market and buy delicious, fresh deli subs and a tub of homemade cole slaw. We eat our picnic lunch on the lawn in front of the corner store. We buy fresh squeezed lemonade from some kids who have set up a lemonade stand by the side of the road. We eat slowly, savoring the fresh summer tomatoes in our sandwiches and the crunchy, creamy cole slaw. We watch the the islanders pass by in their golf carts.
Lunch is over…..Time to head back to the boat. Time to get lost in a good book. Time to nap. Time to heal…….
I still need to figure a lot of things out. When we get home I need to make a long overdue appointment with a lawyer who handles elderly affairs. I have been avoiding this. I need to make appointments to visit the nursing homes that friends have recommended. I have been avoiding this too. I need to call the local mental health agency and have my Mother evaluated. It is time to find out if she qualifies for services. I hate all of this. I don’t want to deal with any of this- but I have to because I am the adult in charge. Sometimes I am so tired of being the adult in charge. I have been the adult in charge since I was ten years old.
Fortunately, blessedly, I am in charge of nothing today. And I like it that way. I close my eyes. The book I am reading is wonderful. The characters are so well drawn that I can imagine myself right in the middle of their world, and that is exactly where I am going to stay today- right in the middle of an imaginary world…..Until it is time to dingy in to the dock and pick up our lobsters.