My Favorite Things

12 Dec

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The rain was intensifying, the sky darkening by the minute. And the wind was in that middle place between sweeps of cold and down drafts of warm. I stared at the bending cedars and oaks from inside  “my happy place” waiting for Bob and Brenda, new friends I met at Trivia Night. There is no other place that I would rather spend an afternoon, alone or in company than at Zillie’s Island Pantry. I suppose I am the queen of the “happy hour” in a way, not that I have it daily. Most every day I workout, but around five, I sigh and think to myself, What I wouldn’t give right now to be sitting at Zillie’s on the deck watching Back Road with a Bellini or a nice Chenin Blanc or Petit Syrah in my hand, listening to Billie Holiday, or other assorted vintage jazz and blues, cheese and charcuterie spread out before me?

The music is part of what links me into the era of my grandparents and the nostalgia of the 1940’s. When I am there, I feel totally in the moment. As a highly creative person, space and place are important to me. I need the right atmosphere like some need the right music; its a soundtrack of sort, for sinking into myself.  It has to “feel” right, and Zillie’s has that for me. Vintage signs and music create a grandma’s kitchen meets gourmet interior. It’s small, brightly colored and filled with bottles of fine wine and beer amid jars of gourmet sauces and other delicacies. Outside, the atmosphere is a different story. I think everyone has a friend that his or her home just seems to be the place everybody likes to frequent come summer. Someone usually has a deck that becomes the neighborhood gathering place and the deck at Zillie’s captures that for me. And even in this off season, I see locals coming here for the fire outside in the big copper fireplace along with fine spirits.

I remember Summer 2010 sitting outside on the computer writing, sipping ice cold Sauvignon Blanc and monitoring my students’ summer blog. Being a teacher seems to be the only thing I have done for the last quarter century, as if the love of young people and literature would be enough to sustain me. I have come to realize it doesn’t. My whole career has been one long “should”. But I’m really good at it, which has complicated my sense of obligation for more years than I’d like to admit.

Bob and Brenda came in around five and then all hell broke loose outside. The trees swayed and bent while the puddles deepened. We chatted a long while about places we’ve traveled to and a bit about my bucket list. But the conversations turned more personal as they tend to do with a fine glass or two of red and I began to talk with Brenda about some of my personal relationships, one in particular.  I expressed to her how frustrated I was, how caught I felt in not being able to express my emotions, nor be my honest self. I revealed to my new friend how strange the communication with him seemed and how ultimately sad and unhappy I was with the whole situation. This was the uncomfortable pressure on the partially healed sore from a divorce accident.

There was one point, where when my phone lit up with a text from this person and I shook my head and teared up. Brenda did something I will never forget. She reached over, took the phone out of my hand, laid her hand on top of mine and said in the most calm way, “Cyndi, love is simple…it doesn’t have to be that hard.” Like a wave too big to stand in, the pressure of her words tumbled over me and I realized She was right. I had to let go.

She gave me a gift last night. Those three words set me free somehow. LOVE…IS…SIMPLE.

Its funny. I never thought I’d be learning these types of tough lessons now at my age. I suppose no one ever does. But it strikes me that we learn when we are ready. Perhaps I have spent so much time growing up other people, that I need to tend to me now. I’m not really sure.

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