Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. ~ Jack Kerouac
We have been living between Vermont and Cape Cod for the past month.
My life got ahead of my innkeeping story. I first thought I might save these entries for a book, the somewhat sequel to The Reverse Commute. But I lost interest in that as the days got busier. The notes came in handy for blogging, which I also couldn’t keep up with.
Throughout the winter months, we took day trips up to Vermont to hunt for houses. In March, we found a house we could afford to buy for cash from the quickly diminishing nest egg we acquired after selling our home in New Hampshire three years ago. Since arriving at the Inn we weren’t just making omelets. We’ve had to dip in and crack a few eggs when we scrambled to pay bills like car repairs and health insurance.
We saw yurts, houses shaped like igloos, A-frames, ski chalets, and crazy trailers with add-on additions. We found a small Swiss chalet. It needs some work but nothing Rich can’t handle. We considered renting or trying AirBnB while we worked and lived at the Inn. We need the extra income.
Four weeks after the fireplace screen didn’t fall from the sky we met with the owner. He offered no apologies for his outbursts. I expressed the concern that we felt we were in a precarious situation now that the inn was up for sale. After all, not only would we lose our job but our home. I asked what the incentive was to not start looking for another job. He told us to start looking now and plan to leave by the end of the month. I don’t know how to describe this final meeting as there is nothing nice to say so what unfolded is best left unsaid. He ended the meeting by getting up and walking out of the inn, his usual modus operandi.
Later that afternoon, we started packing. The next week we took a day trip to Vermont with some of the boxes. It was a warm spring day. I took a walk on the sunny side of our street past a babbling brook. Birds back from a winter down south chirped happily, as if glad to be home.
Back at the Inn I laid on the couch in the early evening, the low sun in my eyes. I was mentally and physically exhausted. As the sun set behind the trees in the backyard, the room took on shadows and the walls we painted sage green and cool gray along with the old yellow in the kitchen beyond looked like a stack of Necco wafers.
I thought about the strength of people who persevere in the face of unimaginable adversity. However hard you think your life may be there is always someone suffering greater hardship.
I was reminded of the man with multiple sclerosis who visited in the summer. He had a difficult time walking and coordinating his hands but his smile was wide and even his eyes twinkled when he spoke of the days he played saxophone with Dizzy Gillepsie.
There was also the couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. Years ago they lost both their children to a drunk driver speeding through the cemetery adjacent to their backyard where their little girls were playing. It’s impossible to imagine how they managed to go on but they now have two grown sons and were celebrating thirty five years of marriage. In their room they had several talismans on the dresser including a plaque that read Mine the Divine. It was obvious they still carried a deep sorrow but they carried it well.
I felt I needed to finish the story I started, The Innkeeper’s Journal, but needed some distance before I wrote about the final days at the Inn. Distance from the bad feelings, the disrespect, and the insult.
The last chapters have been posted from The Valley View Saloon in Vermont because we haven’t connected to WiFi yet, and Cape Cod where Rich is doing some work for friends. It is uncertain if and when we will receive the small bonus we earned, the severance pay we are owed per our contract, and our final paychecks.
Our last full house was a rowdy, friendly crowd of Walter Trout fans. In the kitchen my daughter’s boyfriend, Kyle, played bluegrass tunes on his iPhone. He was up and showered early to help with the final breakfast for twenty. The realtor was showing the Inn at three. Just another clueless move by the owners. The guests were late in leaving. It was already noon and we had nine rooms to clean. Wine glasses, empty beer bottles, and nacho chip crumbs were scattered throughout the living room and lounge. One group driving back to New York needed air in their tires. We searched for Rich and his compressor, calling for him throughout the inn. He had his head stuck in the shower in one of the rooms where the glass door came loose and almost fell on a guest. With the help of my daughter and her boyfriend we had fun getting it all done for the very last time.
A young writer and teacher named Darcy was our final guest. Here to meet with a friend who was also a writer, he told us he would be back often because the project they were working on was ongoing. We told him we were leaving.
“That’s terrible news,” he said. “You’re both so warm and welcoming and so very much a part of the experience.”
By Thursday the rooms were clean, the laundry was done, the bills were paid. I even planted pansies in the window box.
I slept terribly the last night at the inn. The innkeeper’s house made loud snapping noises as if it might crack and tumble down. I dreamt off and on of the owner. The next morning I had one last condescending email communication with them regarding debit cards and check signing. I had sent the financials detailing the small bonus we earned to the owner’s wife as she is who we were dealing with to avoid further outbursts. His wife forwarded it to him with a short note. “Here’s the plea.” That remark still gnaws at me. I wasn’t begging for anything. I was asking for what I had earned and what I am owed.
I had planned to go to the grocery store to re-stock the fridge for the couple taking over before the closing, for yes indeed, some mysterious buyer has dropped from the heavens and made an offer. Apparently we were in a precarious situation well before I brought it up, and they will have to figure out a way to buy their own eggs.
Since we sold the house in New Hampshire we have been traveling light and flight by night was in the realm of possibilities. We loaded up the last of our belongings and left the Inn at five o’clock on Thursday night.
Three years ago, as I pulled out of the driveway on River Road, I snapped a photograph through the rearview mirror of a house filled with twenty three years of memories. Two and a half years later I took another photo of my husband’s truck pulling a trailer onto the entrance ramp to Interstate 95 North out of Boynton Beach, Florida where we started our fifteen hundred mile journey to embark on a new adventure as innkeepers.
Thursday evening there was no photo op. I hesitated for a moment, thought about it, then pulled out of the driveway behind Rich’s truck, with the trailer attached once again. I was ambivalent about looking back, more focused on looking forward, not behind to a place I came to in good faith never imagining the other party wasn’t on the same page.
The lights on Rich’s trailer started blinking somewhere north of Springfield. I followed close behind, hoping a cop wouldn’t pull him over. The Florida license plate on the trailer expired the week before. Our hasty departure didn’t leave time to register the trailer for what we hope will be it’s final move.
Darkness fell by the time we crossed the border into Vermont where we traveled another twenty miles along a winding country road running along a rocky riverbed, breathing a sigh of relief when we pulled into our driveway.
We’re not sure what the next chapter will be. We have lots of skills and we live by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assessment of his good friend Henry David Thoreau. “He chose to be rich by making his wants few.”
Our first night in Vermont we slept straight through to noon.