I walked out the door this evening at 11:45, and looked up at the sky. There was a high cloud cover, so no stars were visible, but the sense of peace and quiet, and calmness, was palpable. And as I walked our babysitter Marjorie to the car, I thought about how lucky we are to be here.
We have been here since mid-September, and unlike our life in Sausalito, where we had dinner with friends at least two nights a week, we have been invited to dinner exactly twice, and tonight was the second time. It has taken a very long time to meet people and be accepted into even a small part of the community. Part of that is because Nathaniel, our four year old, was only going to school from 1:00 to 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon up until December (he’s now going from 9:00 until 1:00), and so we hadn’t met many other parents.
I say thank gawd he’s in school, because without him as an entree, there really are no other ways to meet people here. None. Because as we’ve learned from going to the doctor’s office in Rock (down the road from where we live), the year round locals tend to be older. Much older. And so we’ve hunkered down, doing the best we can, eating at home every night because it’s either too expensive, or not good enough at the local restaurants to do otherwise.
But tonight we had a night out – dinner at Meredith and Jo’s. He’s a Londoner trying on what it feels like to go Cornwall-native, and she’s an outgoing lass with a quick wit from Belfast who left Ireland at 18 and never looked back. We weren’t sure what time to be there, so after picking up Marjorie at 7:15, I called just in case. And a good thing too, because Jo said “why don’t you come around 8:15.” “Great” I replied. And after I hung up I looked at Rachel and said “Oops".
We were both a little shell-shocked. 45 minutes by ourselves? We weren’t sure what to do. So we decided to go in to Rock and have a beer at the Mariner’s pub, where Rachel used to go as a teenager. It was the first time we’ve been out in so long that we couldn’t remember the last time we were out by ourselves; sad really, isn’t it? I ordered a half-pint of Guiness, and Rachel ordered a mineral water, and she reminisced about coming here as a comely 13 year old, being chatted up by much older guys, sitting on the wall overlooking the harbor, sipping illicit beers, and enjoying the hormones and warm breezes that create those unforgettable memories of summers while coming of age. And as I listened to her stories I was struck by how similar her summer memories are of my memories of spending summers as a boy on Cape Cod (but that will have to wait for a future entry).
When we got to Meredith and Jo’s house, the other couples were already there, and we wondered if maybe no one else had thought to call, because it looked like they were all settled in and working on their second glass of wine. There were two other couples there, Hamish and Nicky, and Mark and Amanda. But the surprise of the night was that the only other time we have been invited to dinner, at Alex and Nicky’s house, Mark and Amanda had been there as well. I thought to myself, either this is an even smaller community than we’d thought, or Mark and Amanda are really great company (after the evening, I would have to say that both things are true).
But back to the night air. After a raucous dinner, good conversation, homemade ice-cream, great coffee, and a comfortable seat around the fireplace, I looked at my watch and realized that 11:35 was very close to the witching hour, and as Marjorie comes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and tomorrow was Friday, she would probably appreciate getting to bed before midnight. So we bussed cheeks, took our leave, and headed home, the only ones on the road.
And as I walked in the night air, I thought again about why we are here, and whether this is some place we might want to be long term. And while I didn’t come to any conclusions, I could honestly say that I was as satisfied as I have been in a very long time.
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