On Vacation (Part 1)
Last year I tried to write a 4 part story during my annual week at the beach. It didn’t happen. I got two parts out and had the second two laid out in my head but never got them down on. This year I decided to be less optimistic, because, it’s vacation. Please read past any typos and grammatical snafus. I don’t edit on vacations.
We rolled through the orchard farms and bush after bountiful bush of blueberries. The radio had been quiet for the last 45 minutes, or just after she laid her chair back. She had her headphones in, no doubt listening to an audio book. She liked biographies but it might have been fiction. We were on vacation after all.
Once I left the interstate I opened the window and let the air fill the car. The dash thermometer read 81 and the high blue sky looked as if it begged for an airplane to fly across and ruin it with a stripe of white vapor. The wind was the only sound in the car. In this world of endless news and noise, silence was the most powerful of all being.
The farm fields gave way to small city streets and I slowed the car down to 25. North Side Drive was busy with vacationers. Walkers and an occiasional skateboarder, lean and tan with a t-shirt tucked in his back pocket. When I saw the first turquoise blue of the lake in between million dollar beach houses I touched her leg. “Hey, beautiful.” Her eyes opened and she smiled as she took the buds from her ears. I left my hand where it was, on the smooth skin of her leg that I had taken liberties of enjoying during the three hour drive. Her thin sundress worked its way up her thighs revealing those two legs that had driven me crazy for years. Great legs did that to me, and she knew it, used it, and teased me with it. But she wasn’t teasing today, she was just being herself, free as a bird. Who cares how high it rode up, it was just her and I.
“Wow.” she said as we passed a sprawling beach front home with a manicured lawn. She poked at her phone and began dictating her thoughts into it. They’d become prose later. Not verbatim, but the thoughts and words now would be weaved and molded into a perfect setting of sun and beach later. It was her process. A process I respected and envied. I wrote by the seat of my well worn pants. She planned, dictated, outlined. And her sales figures proved that it worked.
Once I knew she was done dictating I said, “Do you want to get out and walk now, or just find the house?” The bungalow we rented was on one of the quiet blocks not far from mansions that lined North Side Drive.
“Let’s find the place, then walk.” She said. I smiled at her and she smiled back. I couldn’t see her eyes behind her sunglasses but her smile spoke a thousand words without saying one.
We slowed and watched some workers putting wood siding on a new place on the opposite side of the road. Next to that home was an empty lot. “Right there, beautiful.” I pointed toward the vacant lot. “That would be a great place for our home.” It was a dream. Like where one’s mind goes after buying a lottery ticket. Rich dreams.
“Pull over up here.” Inspiration had struck. I was used to it. Often our forward motion through this world came to a sudden stop when she felt inspired by something. I’d seen the magic that she created in these moments and again, I respected her process.
She dug in her computer case for a drawing pad and found two pencils. “Will you walk back there with me?” Sometimes she wanted to be alone to develop the thought, this time not.
“I’d love to.” We walked the half a block back to the empty lot. On the South side of it we could hear the men’s hammers as they nailed the wood siding. Workers on scaffolding yelled measurements down to a young shirtless man standing next to two saw horses. On the other side of the empty lot was a small 50’s bungalow. It’s landscaping was simple. Just a few flowering perrienals When I saw this kind of home I always wondered about it’s story. Who built it? Who owned it now?
We stood on the sidewalk and she began to draw in her well used sketchpad. A 3D home began to take shape on the once empty paper. She stopped, looked, then began to draw again. She drew the homes on each side of it to scale and filled in some quick trees and shrubs. The entire drawing took less than 15 minutes. Then she closed the pad and said, “Ok, I’m done. Thanks for stopping.”
“No need to thank me. You know I love to watch you work.” She leaned into me and took my hand and we walked that way until we reached the car. Once inside I asked her, “Show me the drawing again.”
She opened the pad. It was amazing how quickly she could create something so real. “This is where we’d drink our coffee.” She pointed toward a porch that ran across the front of the house and wrapped around it’s South side. “And this will be the kitchen.” There was a large window that I could imagine standing at a sink and looking out, seeing the blue water of Lake Michigan between the beach front houses across North Shore Drive.
“And see this window here?” She pointed to a second floor window that had a small walkout balcony.
“Yeah?” I looked at her finger pointing at the window and when she didn’t answer, I looked at her face.
“That’s where we’ll make love every morning.” Her sunglasses were off now and I could see it in her eyes. The look. The inspiration sometimes evolved into this. “Let’s go find the rental house…fast.”
Suddenly I was the one who felt inspired.