|A typical Campground Cottage.|
Marshall, Thompson and Sarah are going to the Vineyard in the Mercedes with Declan. He’s going to open the house and see that the contractors get the summer work done before the beginning of the season. As of July 1st, no work can be done on the Campgrounds -- other than necessary repairs. Painting and general upkeep must be completed. There is always a mad race to the finish line for homeowners and leaseholders. On the Campgrounds, up go the NO BIKES and STOP signs that contribute to the colorful feel of the place. Declan plans to get the boys to help with the painting of the front porch. They have proven themselves in Whately. Declan’s mother is eager to take Sarah for the mornings. She lives to be of service -- however that might be defined -- to Declan and his offspring. With his father gone, Declan gets the full ammunition of her love fired at him. It is a rapid-fire volley when it comes down to it.
I hear a faint whisper in my head when I witness her unconditional generosity and love. I know it is terribly wrong, but I label it as “a boundary issue.” She crosses boundaries as far as I am concerned. When we are on the Vineyard, she has dinner with us every night. I can’t bring myself to speak up and say, “Hey, this is my vacation, what are you doing in it?” She is so kind and large-hearted that any pettiness on my part is simply amplified by her goodness. I am nurturing, I care deeply, but sometimes, I just want to turn off the switch for the world beyond my immediate family. The one time I tried to talk to Declan about it, we had a tremendous row. The argument was not a pretty sight, nor is it a warm memory.
The bikes are on the back of the Mercedes. The Thule carrier is on the roof. My family us backing out of our driveway. Already, Marshall and Thompson have their headphones tucked into their ears playing music from their ipods. Sarah is watching an animated movie on the screen on the back of the seat in front of her. It’s a really different world these days. Basically, Declan will be driving to the Woods Hole ferry by himself.
I know it’s hard for him to take a week off during the peak of growing season. I am glad he was willing to do this with me. We had talked about it, but when the Board okayed the decision to hire Carl, I knew it was imperative that I be out of town when he moves onto campus. There is an inexplicable magnetism between us. Whether it is current or simply from feelings never discharged in the past, I can feel my discipline and self-control nearly falter. In my position, I can not afford inappropriate behavior of any kind. It is always so easy to have one’s actions misconstrued. The children don’t start their summer activities until the first full week of July, so it was easy to change our schedule to head to the coast a week earlier than we planned. I claimed that I was burn out. This was not a far-fetched ploy. It has the ring of authenticity because it is true.
I will work through the end of today, drive three hours to Woods Hole, then catch the last ferry tonight. I look forward to time on State Beach, perusing books at the Oak Bluffs library, frequenting some galleries up-Island, scarfing down lobsters in Menemsha and, it wouldn’t be summer without ordering some Mad Martha’s ice cream. It will be too early for some of the fun we have during the season, but this will be golden.
For the past eight years, our routine has been pretty much the same. A week in June and a week in August. Both Declan and I make a commitment with our jobs so that we can do this. We also spend a week over Christmas break. Each of those three weeks creates a mini-crisis for me because of Kelly. In the first years after her death, I was grateful to have her company. I was grateful to be able to see her and feel her presence. Gradually, it has become a burden. I still worry about her as if she were still alive. It takes discipline to drive away. For reasons I do not understand, she never appears to me on the Island. It is only in Whately that Kelly makes her spirit known. I reason that if Kelly is merely an elaborate figment of my over-active imagination, then she should accompany me to the Vineyard. Why would there be limits? This observation numbers among the many things that I don’t know.
I do know that she is often sitting on my bed when I return from my week-long holidays.
As I go in the back door, I see a glimpse of her on the swing-set. She is pumping so hard that the swing is nearly level with the stabilizing bar across the top. Anyone else would think it is the wind moving an empty swing. I know better.