Generally, a good ocean breeze can wash away any stress I’m feeling. A change of venue, salt air, rows of houses covered in grey cedar shakes, and an ocean view, can put a shine back in my eyes and a genuine smile on my face.
I’ve been coming to Martha’s Vineyard since I was a junior in college. Every June or July, my family, on my dad’s side, would come for a week and rent a house. After the first visit I looked forward to that trip more than Christmas. After a few years of trips, we all realized that we wanted to come to the island at different times and stay longer than a week, so my Dad and Mom, his two brothers and their wives, bought a home here. I was 28 when they bought the house. I’ve “grown up” here as much as anywhere else. I’ve gone through almost every phase of life here. I’ve had my college boyfriend here, my first husband, my two children have grown up having summers here, I brought Pete here the year before we were married, and now I grieve him here.
Over all this time I’ve only missed two summers. The first when I was close to delivery of my first child and the second, when I was in the hospital with Pete over the summer of 2011.
I love coming from the mainland of Cape Cod (aka America) on the massive car ferries. The anticipation of sitting in the boarding lane, knowing that a short 45 minute sail away I’d be on the island. **POP CULTURE ALERT** If you’ve ever seen the movie “Jaws,” you’ve seen the ferry and the Island. Remember the scene for July 4th weekend when the flood of tourists have been unleashed on the Island? You’ll see the cars driving off of the ferry. That’s the Vineyard...as is much of the rest of the film.
In 2015, my aunts and uncles offered to sell the house to me and Pete. They were coming less and less often, and they knew what the island meant to me. I thought Pete might not want to take on the burden of another home. It had been just a few short years since his stroke and he was still burdened (or blessed) with his heart pump. Acting true to form, and a model of lust for life, Pete said, “Fantastic! Let’s do it.”
I know that he loved the Island, but mostly he knew how much I loved it, and he wanted me to have the house. He threw himself full-on into helping us find financing for it, and embraced the chance to make some updates.
One thing that became a special ritual for us was spending his birthday here. By coincidence, his birthday falls on June 22, and for most of the years we were married, we were on the Vineyard to celebrate.
So, here I sit writing this blog and thinking of Pete. He would have been 57, but is preserved in time as 54. We spent many wonderful weeks here with family, and often by ourselves. It’s a creative place where we’d breathe in the fresh air, and clear our minds. We’d make plans, and strive to be creative, and just be in each other’s presence.
Tomorrow “Jaws” is showing in one of the Island theaters. I’ll have a cocktail and toast Pete’s birthday and all of my memories of past birthdays spent here. Then I’ll buy a ticket and some popcorn and sit to watch a movie about the place where I’m sitting and watching the movie.