Saturday, September 3, 2016

Saturday Musings / Without Complaining

Good morning,

I did not write an entry in My Year Without Complaining yesterday.  My travels kept me away from a computer.  Here on the coast, the internet works when it wishes to work, in the house or room where it feels comfortable.  Cell service follows the same dictates of its whim.  But here I sit, in Dolphin House, in the kitchen.  A young man from Germany who had no breakfast food other than a peach now cooks two of my eggs for himself.  He might be the same age as my son; I hope if my son travels in Germany, someone's mother will spare him a couple of eggs and some butter for his morning repast.

I left Kansas City at 10:20 a.m. CDST and pulled into the parking lot of HI-Pigeon Point Lighthouse at precisely 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.  I had acquired a box of groceries in Pescedaro.  I set my basket on the counter and asked for butter.  A surly man gestured to the back case.  I walked over, rummaged, and found a pound for $5.00 or a stick for $3.00.  I went with the pound.  Back at the counter, I asked the man if they sold coolers.  He grunted, a sound which I took as a negative reply.  Instead he loaded my groceries in a leftover box, breaking off a stalk of celery in the process.  I smiled.  He evaded my eyes.  I broadened my smile and thought perhaps he softened his gaze.

Out at the rental car, I spied the trunk open but luckily my suitcase still rested within the small cavern.  I stood staring at the keys, wondering if in my fumbling I had pressed some wayward button.  I let my shoulders rise and fall and set to driving the rest of the way to the hostel, the ocean on my right, the gentle western slope of the mountains on my left.  With the radio silent  and the windows slightly open to let in the soothing air, I drove, and thought, and breathed.  Mostly I breathed.

Michael stood behind the counter at the hostel.  I swung around the doorway and broadened my smile.  Michael, you're still here!  I cried.  He matched my grin.  Why, it's the girl from Kansas City, he replied.  It might be a trick he has; to check the roster.  But I let myself believe he remembers me.  He might; I don't mind either way.

Michael helped me with my suitcase.  Had he not, I would have pulled a few things from the large bag and put them in a smaller pack, one brought just for this purpose.  We talked as we walked, me with my red walking stick, Michael carrying everything else.  As we entered the building, he asked me, Are you this happy at home? Or is it California?  I stopped and thought.  He waited for my answer.  I told him the truth as I know it:  This place brings out the joy in me.  He nodded.  He has his own story of redemption, behind a weathered face turned sixty-one last month.  He understood.  We continued into the building.

Later, I sat in the Adirondack chair and let my eyes play over the ocean.  A woman from Santa Cruz told me about her childhood in Kansas City.  She went to St. Theresa's High School, and then over to St. Louis University for college.  Our lives intersected in so many places that we sat together for some time at the kitchen table, she with a somewhat burned pizza and me with my apples and hummus.   She talked of some unpleasant things which had happened to her.  I steered the conversation towards happier memories and she talked about Imo's Pizza, the quadrangle at SLU, Minsky's Pizza in Kansas City.  I listened, hearing the loneliness between her words.  Then our voices fell silent and only the ocean spoke.

Later, two men traveling for the Labor Day Weekend gave me a couple of their stuffed mushrooms.  They offered pasta but I declined.  We sat at the same kitchen table with the ocean still sending its voice in waves towards us, right outside the window.  We talked of their jobs, and the election, and the artichoke bread that I had bought in Pescedaro.  One of them told me about teaching ballroom dancing in Long Beach.  The other spoke of moving to California from Amarillo in the 1990s, to find somewhere liberal enough to accept him.  We ate without speaking for a few minutes, the room around us heavy for a brief time with our thoughts, with the longing for a place to call home.

Then a couple of young women burst into the room, backpacks falling from their shoulders, eyes bright, faces gleaming.  I took my plate to the sink, and myself to bed.

I fell asleep easily, with the window open, and the sea air soothing the weariness which I wear like a shawl.  Everything fell away, to the floor, crumbling, whisked away by the breeze playing through the room.  I woke twice in the night; once to the sound of laughter in the hallway outside my door; and once with a start from a dream that I cannot recall.

When I rose at six, a fog had settled over the lighthouse; but the one surrounding my soul had cleared.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

PostScript:  My humility compels me to confess that Master Michael of the Hostel Realm confirms that he did indeed remember me; and he further honored me by telling me that he considers me a friend. My cup runneth over.


The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.