May 2015: A hard soled shoe is on my left foot where I have a fifth metatarsal tear. An air boot is on my right foot protecting an ankle fracture. Both ankles are severely sprained. Four days before officially taking over as managers of an inn in Western New England in a town at the southern end of The Berkshires, I am barely able to walk never mind climb the numerous staircases throughout the Victorian Tudor mansion we are now responsible for.
The route back to the Inn takes us through Torrington, which we have renamed Borington. We have come to the only BJ’s for miles around to purchase dozens of eggs. Rolls and rolls of toilet paper. Orange juice. Mushrooms and spinach for omelets. Granola for yogurt parfaits. Loaves and loaves of bread.
Rich leaves me at the curb where a cranky employee pushes a stack of carriages along the sidewalk.
“Excuse me, are there carriages I can drive around the store?” I ask, teetering on my boot like a drunk while wondering how long until five o’clock. It must be five o’clock somewhere.
“Yeah, inside. You have to get them inside.” The cranky male employee is oblivious to my misery.
I rock and clomp my way through the automatic doors. The greeter, a young woman with thick glasses, buck teeth, lank hair, and apparently no empathy gene stares blankly as I ask if she can help me with one of the riding carriages. Maybe she doesn’t speak English?
Pointing and chattering, always over explaining, I dither on as if she’s my girlfriend. “It’s just that they are all parked so close together, I can’t get to them with this boot”. I point to my enormous boot. She doesn’t look down. “I don’t even know how to drive one of those things…I sprained both my ankles…Can you help me out?” Again with the blank stare. My husband glides past, glaring at the mute greeter, and rides the cart over to where I stand, helpless.
Cart shopping turns out to be fun. I whizz down the aisles tossing loaves of bread, pounds of coffee, fruit and more fruit into my basket.
Carl, a young businessman from Brooklyn, stayed with us four days last week and is returning tonight for another four days. We speak of him as if he is our son.
“We need more milk,” I say. “You know Carl doesn’t drink coffee. He likes milk with his breakfast.”
Rich spots containers of egg whites and throws them in the basket. “Remember Carl likes the scrambled egg whites?”
A lone cashier mans a register where the line wraps around the large boxes of last minute impulse items. Sparklers for Memorial Day weekend, charcoal for the barbecue, three packs of giant plastic bottles of ketchup, mustard, and relish. Two of the three self checkout lights are blinking for assistance.
“You always get fucked at the drive-thru.”
Rich knows I am referring to a scene with Danny Devito and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. “Same goes for the self-checkout,” he replies.
Exiting the big box store, the mute greeter takes our receipt, inspects the carriage, and punches a hole in the receipt. “You all have a nice day,” she says.
Later that night we are too tired to cook so we eat cheese and crackers topped with herring in white wine sauce. Before bed we fold sheets. I sit on a chair, Rich walks backwards away from me until the sheet is tight enough to bounce a quarter. We fold it in half lengthwise then in half again, always right to left, but if it’s a fitted sheet we flip it over when we fold the ends together. Before I sprained my ankles we’d walk towards each other as if dancing a minuet. Tonight I forget the flip so the sheet twists as if we are wringing a giant wet rag.
“Reverse direction,” he shouts. “We reverse with the fitted sheet, remember? Don’t break protocol.”
Last night, our first night in the innkeepers’ quarters, we slept on the couch that smelled of wet dog because we haven’t unpacked our belongings from the trailer. Tonight I make the trek upstairs to an unoccupied room in the Inn and sleep in luxury surrounded by rose wallpaper atop a four poster bed that is too high to sit down on. I throw myself on the bed, trying not to use my ankles, and shimmy up to the pillows. Free of the boot, I wiggle my toes and rotate my ankles before quickly falling asleep.