Sitting Around on Porches

There’s a reason, I tell her, why I don’t live in the most beautiful place in the world any more. So many memories. Like most good experiences, the years can erase the bad parts. Or if not erase, maybe at least blur them to a comfortable haze. So many memories are centered around transportation on and off the island. The way the sun bounces off the rolling waves as you watch from the deck on the early morning ferry. The excitement of spotting the orcas in the quiet of the late afternoon. The frustration of missing the last ferry home at night. Someday I will write a story about island life, I say. And I will. But meanwhile, I remember that I did once write a bit about it. Many years ago, it was a front page article in the local paper. That’s not one of the “bad” memories that one wants to forget, I think. So why is it buried in the hidden recesses of my mind? Probably because of the sadness of the failure to follow through and write more. Living on an island primes creativity, or so I’ve been told. Maybe. Life has been good, and leaving was a devastating reminder of failure and loss.

In some way these feelings always exist. Leaving is always sad. And exciting. The promise of things to come, but the loss of everything that came before. Finishing her tea, her chair stops rocking as her bare feet cross the worn wooden floor. Someday I’ll tell you my story, she says as she reaches the faded brick steps to the sidewalk. Someday. You don’t need to travel to find devastation, she says. Failure and loss, hope for the things to come, all can be found right here on the front porch.

It’s not what I’ve always wanted, but for my next life experience, I want to become one of the front porch people. I want to sit around on my front porch in the afternoon, drinking tea and talking to neighbors who happen to walk down the sidewalk. I hope that occasionally one of these walkers will stop by and join me for a glass of tea and conversation. I will put out a bowl of water for the dogs that some of them will be walking. Perhaps I will become one of those old ladies who always has doggie treats at the ready in a big ceramic jar by the porch table. Instead of the orcas, I’ll be watching for the dogs – and their people. Maybe I’ll write stories about front porch people.

This story comes from my daydreams. First the desire to become a front porch person, but also to become a “southern writer.” That isn’t to say that I would become a southerner. I still don’t really like sweet iced tea. I think my New England memoir style comes from being a New Englander yearning to be a Southern writer.

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