Thursday, September 3, 2015

The best laid empty nest plans . . .

It's September. The empty nest is upon us. To avoid it as long as possible, we dropped off our younger two children in Massachusetts, and headed up to New Hampshire to see friends we've been meaning to see. To get to their house, you pass by a lake, twice, and I was dumbstruck each time by the sudden beauty of it, to emerge from the green forest and stumble upon all that blue.

A town fair on Saturday. A boat ride on Sunday. Exploring the inlets, the gulches and glens, winding through the water in a way you don't do in the ocean, was calming, like being in a canoe. We docked at another friend's cabin, explored their property, with its own jetties and landings, and a special sunset-y patio on the edge of their property, connected to nothing but waves and roots, jutting out into the water for dinner parties. A rocky landing just for dinner parties, with a tiny spit of sand a few feet wide, and a small dock for friends arriving to the party by boat. It was simple, and simply gorgeous, and seemed the height of empty nest fabulosity.

Looking for things in common in our marriage, for a new place to live, for activities that last and connect, I land on a single word: Harbor. I grew up in a small harbor town in Illinois. I lived the happiest five years of my life in a harbor town in California. We spend our summers, as much as we can, in another harbor town. The thrill of arriving, of stately marine traffic, the snap of sail and flag, the welcome of whistle. It's in my bones, and in his.

And every time I've seen a town like this, whether its Annapolis or Tiburon or Perth, I think: Home. And I think now, of the small craft my husband sold when the college bills started to come, and the upkeep outstripped our use. And I know, each in our own way -- he the navigator, the fisherman, the keeper of the tides -- and me, the observer, the dreamer, the chronicler of memories -- that we both are happy when we are in the same boat.