Cape Cod: A Place and a Dream
Things eased as we enjoyed the ferry ride out to the island. It was a clear day with a stiff breeze. The sun sparkled on the water like diamonds. We overheard a fellow Easterner refer to her tennis shoes as sneakers. Throughout their lives the girls from the west had always questioned and made fun of me for calling tennis shoes sneakers. On the ferry they got it and began to see their mother through new eyes, and we had a good laugh over it. I saw a look on my youngest daughter’s face as she was looking out at the moving sea, breathing in the ocean air, the wind was blowing in her face…I wondered, is she was catching it?
Then once again both of their jaws dropped when we got off the ferry and they found that we would drag our own luggage up the cobblestone streets to the Roberts House where we were staying.
We checked in, caught the shuttle out to Madaket, sat on the beach, watched the waves and soaked up the sea air and I could feel life flow back into me. We then headed back to town where we wandered around, in and out of shops for an hour or so before we ended up down near the wharf again for dinner while we watched the next group of people get off the ferry, find their luggage, and head off to their destination. During our conversation my older daughter, always my champion, said, “Oh, Mom, now we understand why you always dreamed of your own shop out here. You should have taken daddy’s insurance money and opened one. You were right, what you were dreaming of never would have worked in Colorado.”
“We had a long road in front of us. If daddy had lived and we retired out here that would have been one thing, but at the time…it just wouldn’t have been the right thing. In the end the joy of watching you two grow into two wonderful ,happy young women has brought me more happiness than I could imagine, much more than a gift shop…but that little dream of mine has gotten me through some pretty rough times. I remember one night about six months after daddy died, crying all night long. I was still awake as the sun came up, I looked out at the mountains, and they were beautiful, all the pinks and purples against the morning Colorado sky, but they weren’t the ocean and I wished so hard that they were. I needed it. Suddenly, and I remember this so well, I was on the beach on a gray day, the surf was high and the wind was whipping my hair and the salt was stinging my face. A sense of peace came over me and I felt as your grandmother used to say, ‘God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.’ Somehow at that moment I knew we would be okay. I went up stairs, splashed water on my face and woke you kids up. Everyone needs a place and a dream to hold on to. For you kids it probably will be the mountains in Colorado. They are what you have grown up with and have known.”
But my youngest surprised me, she leaned back in her chair with a grin on her face, “No, Mom, I am going to live here some day.” In just a few short hours it had called to her.
I squeezed her hand and laughed a very knowing laugh. I believe the place chooses us, we don’t choose it, and once it chooses us it never lets go. It is with us in the good times and the hard times, and those of us who are chosen are the lucky ones.
The next few years took us out to the island again many times, but then weddings, babies, and husbands’ careers conspired once again to keep us away. But just as in my home, my daughter’s is filled with the colors, furnishings, and mementos of the island — pictures on the walls, seashells in the bathroom, and pictures of the honeymoon that she talked her new South Dakota husband into. All a little out of place in Rochester, Minnesota but like her mother and her grandmother before her, she keeps a place tucked in the corner of her mind.
Judy McCabe was born in Burlington, Vermont, and spent many of her childhood summers on Cape Cod. She is a real estate agent and essayist and she recently published a book of her stories entitled Thoughts of Home . Though she still lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota, she thinks of her homeland often.