I’ve been in a bit of an emotional funk lately. Just tired. All the time. My soul (or whatever you believe in) feels ragged, raw.
So perhaps that’s why I wanted to retreat. Feeling the deterioration of my optimism, I had a strong desire to be somewhere quiet, somewhere remote.
That’s how I found the farmhouse.
A traditional, statuesque white two story home, nearly hidden by overgrown trees and bushes. An oversized porch with a lace hammock in view. When I arrived, I almost expected to be greeted by Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, or perhaps the sisters from Practical Magic.
Pulling up the dirt driveway, three large dogs excitedly ran towards me. I waved at a man walking through the yard, a man that surprised me when he replied to my gestures about parking there.
“Yes, I can get around you,” he called in a thick, British accent, over the sound of their barks.
Amy, his wife, greeted me at the door. She handed me a slick glass full of a pink liquid, with a vibrant, colorful straw. She told me later that she wasn’t sure if I was old enough to drink.
The drink is bubbly and refreshing. I wipe my wet palm on my grey tank top, loose fitting, that just reads Kevin Spacey.
She doesn’t directly ask why I’m visiting, and I don’t give her a direct answer.
“Just needed some quiet time,” I reply when she seems surprised I’m visiting from Wilmington, just ten minutes away.
I gave the same answer to my friend Heather, when I dropped Morrie off for the night.
“It’s just a local travel thing,” I explained, unhooking him from his leash.
I wasn’t sure how to say what it actually was. Time away to try to extinguish my cynicism? A chance to sweep away the salt? I wasn’t sure how to articulate how the constant push and forward motion without any specific direction has lately, almost depleted my energy. Chipped away at my positivity.
Whatever reason I was drawn to the farmhouse, it was time to face it.
On the drive out, I realized how rarely I explored this part of from Wilmington. While some of the vintage shops and gas stations looked familiar from random adventures over the years, most of it was new. Different.
“I don’t think I’ve driven beyond the entrance/exit ramps for I-40 before,” I mumbled to no one.
Stevie Nicks sang as I whipped down the country roads. The sun peeked out of some lush woods, and I felt myself relax. Until my bare feet brushed against the various leaves and pebbles. I really needed to vacuum.
“I also need to clear out all this stuff,” I mumbled again, glancing at the array of dresses, shoes, and boxes piled in the back.
The dashboard needed to be wiped down. The cup holders emptied. I needed to throw away the bubble gum wrappers, the empty CD holders in the console. The to-dos swirled, my phone started to chime with notifications.
I stopped tasking myself.
Yes, my life was mostly cluttered and covered in dog hair… but I would deal with that later.
Amy, who had seemingly had many guests, asked all the right questions.
“Do you need help with your bag?” she said over her shoulder, leading me up the large staircase.
“No, I just have a backpack,” I replied, noticing all of the little eclectic, homey touches.
She opened the door to a spacious, rustic looking room, and I audibly gasped. The room matched what I had envisioned for a night away, and perhaps sensing how drawn I felt to it, she said –
“You can stay up here if you want.”
We made our way around the rest of the property, with Amy providing feedback on places to sit to relax. She warned me about the mosquitoes and encouraged me to make myself at home.
After we finished the tour of the house, she made another suggestion.
“Use the claw foot tub in the upstairs bathroom,” she encouraged. “And open the porch doors. We had to take down the actual porch for the new roof…”
She gestured, pointing up at the two French doors on the second floor.
“So the doors actually lead to nowhere, but -”
“If you open them, you’ll probably get a lovely breeze when you’re in the tub.”
Amy and the British man, (who was actually her husband Glenn) left for awhile to drive in the country, and I was alone. This was the time to muse. I pulled out the journal my friend Kyle sent me for my birthday, along with a black, felt tipped pen I had gotten from the bookstore in Iceland.
Reading over his inscription on the first page, I took a deep breath and started scribbling down notes.
I spent most of the evening just being there, a practice I don’t grant myself often. I walked around the yard barefoot, taking pictures and watching the sky fade into a hazy, twilight blue.
I felt the desire for cold white wine. The moment I turned around, Amy was there with a fresh glass. Feeling a deep disappointment for forgetting the book I was reading at home, I reached into a bookcase and knew as soon as I touched the thin spine – that it was the same one.
Wrapping myself in a cushy duvet, I sat with my feelings and ran myself through every twinge. I asked myself a lot of questions, and wrote down the replies in Kyle’s book.
I filled the porcelain tub with cool, fresh water and lavender bath salts, and opened the doors into the night. I didn’t exactly have a goal for the evening. Breaking out of the funk? Trying to touch into what I really wanted?
Maybe the night away wouldn’t lead anywhere, but Amy was right. As I rinsed myself off, I felt a cool, welcoming breeze.