You arrive, after eleven hours of travel, a long corridor of six forms of transportation: taxi, plane, light rail transit, city bus, car ferry, human ferry, and finally your neighbour’s car, that he calls. “the limo.”
You’re drawn thoughtlessly, rather recklessly, you think, to this island. It wasn’t easy to arrange, it never is. Four years now, almost a tradition.
You’re cranky when you first arrive, you always are. Exhaustion and pain have calcified in your body. You carry recent hurts, an argument with a friend, a hurtful email, the various small irritations of your job.
You settle in bit by bit, but it’s as though a veil of anxiety obscures your vision. There are some small beautiful moments that allow you to see through the veil. Your neighbour has placed eggs, milk, cheese in your fridge, so you have something to eat when you first arrive. You make blueberry crostata in return. It is only here, on this island, a place without restaurants or gift shops, that you truly understand food as language, as a lexicon of welcome, affection and gratitude,
In town, on your stressful food run, you realize you have no change for the bus that takes you back to the ferry. A man at the bus stop, not a wealthy or a completely sane man by any means, insists, when you ask people for change for a $10 bill, on paying your fare.You demur, thinking you’ll sweet- talk the driver into mercy. He says, almost brusquely, as though he knows you well: Why. Is. It. That. You. Cannot. Accept. A. Kind. Gesture. My. God.
Slowly, the perfume of the cedars, the fresh seafood and fish, the salt water you swim in, do their work.
Your writing begins to flow again. Characters, scenes, ideas, bloom in the mornings as you sit on the porch amid the fragrance of the cedars, and write,
In town for a weekend, you visit with friends, people who inspire you. They are happy to see you after so many months. You have a community here.
You see someone you haven’t seen in awhile. You share a simple meal. You are bemused by the affection that has grown between you, wild flowers in an untended garden.
You decide, as the Buddhists tell you, to lean into all of those feelings, to accept that sweet-savoury mix as a form of ananda: elusive, ineffable bliss.
Sometimes, you give in to sweetness, to the kind relief of goodness and beauty. You accept kind gestures, unresolved feelings, and small moments of joy.
Sometimes, you surrender.