#7 Morning in Hastings

On the third floor of an old Victorian row house in England I wake to the first sign of sun and the sound of gulls. It’s hardly daylight and warm under my feather comforter and although I am tired I am also excited. I am excited to be here, I am excited to go home soon and I am excited to be alive.

I make coffee and sit at the window seat overlooking this part of the city and think about what to write about Paris first. Across the street from me is an area of town that during the Second World War was bombed and destroyed. My hosts tell me that the room I am staying in was damaged in that bombing and rebuilt. The morning sky is blue and the sun reflects off of the window in an old church below me. It is distracting me from thoughts of Paris.

The wind from last night has died down but as I open the window I am greeted by a cold gust of salt air. The sea is a few blocks away, the English Channel. There is a large ship just off shore and in the distance beyond I see cliffs. Last night the ferry from France dropped me in Dover. The white cliffs of Dover tower over the port. I can’t tell if these cliffs I see now are white. Chris and Steve picked me up at the port in the pouring rain. We were several hours late due to high winds and bad weather. They waited patiently and when I arrived they smiled and hugged me. We’ve never met but they are friends of friends. On the way home we talked about life and kids and school and politics and the economy. I took a hot bath while Chris made dinner. More amazing, generous people just became my friends.

The journey here was less than fun and while the kid in front of me on the bus screamed and cried I thought of my iPod, sitting in my car…in Seattle. This is the first time in over two weeks that I have wanted to drown out the world around me so the first time I have missed it.

The old man next to me was literally pulling his eyebrows out. Literally. He said later that he was eighty. As we sat listening to the screaming kid he would reach up, grab an eyebrow hair, yank it out and look at it. I couldn’t decide if it was disturbing but I did decide that before I started doing the same thing I would talk to him. We talked about wine and where different grapes grow in the world. Merlo, Chardonnay, Riesling, ice wine, he said he knows that near Eugene we grow magnificent Pinot Noir grapes though he had never been to Oregon. He said that if we were going to be around that kid much longer we would need a whole lot of wine.

The kid screamed, the mother roller her eyes and ignored him, I sighed heavily and Mike patted my arm saying “We are going to get through this” and we both laughed I was glad he was sitting next to me.

Later on the ferry I walked around for a while before heading to the bar. Mike was standing there as if waiting and waved to me saying “There you are, coffee or whiskey?” As we sipped our whiskey they announced that the sea was rough and winds were high through the channel and that we would be delayed about an hour more. I bought us another whiskey while Mike told me about his wife Tilly. They live in England but have a house in Spain. They stay there for most of the winter because they hate the cold. Tilly decided to stay in England this winter so Mike went alone to Spain but was heading home early. He said he only lasted a few weeks because he missed her bitching and nagging and her cooking and her sexy legs. When I left the bus the old man struggled to stand and gave me a big hug and a pat on the arm “I’m glad to make a friend today” he said in his thick Spanish/British accent. I promised that if he brought Tilly to Oregon I would take them on a wine tour.

I love being awake at sunrise, I always have and as I sit here alone with the gulls and my coffee I am realizing that this is the first morning I have had like this since I left home. Just slow and quiet and calm. Although Steve, Chris and I have two full days planned I don’t feel rushed right now. Maybe it’s the ocean air, the breathtaking view, the sun I’ve hardly seen, or the good night sleep or love or gratitude but I decide to write about Paris later and instead do nothing but watch the light change as the world around me is waking up.

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