Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Traveling On

I’m in Charlevoix for the week with seven other good women. Water, stones, sand dunes, trees, grass. The empty beach reminds me of summers in Union Pier when I was a child. If I close my eyes, I can smell the pungent odor of clay, taste melted cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, feel the texture of peeled green grapes against my tongue, relish the flesh as it bursts warm and watery in my cheeks.

The northern tip of Michigan has its own flavor. Multicolored, striated Petoskey rocks form a crust along the water’s edge. Across the bay on Washington Island, pure white stones bake in the sun. Streams along the edges of boulders produce silky strands of orange and mustard colored moss. I stare at the waves, mesmerized by the vast space. The season has shifted from summer heat to crisp autumn.

The women move easily among each other. We take walks down the beach, watch sunsets, collect and paint rocks, cook meals together, share family stories. One has a child in college for the first time, another is planning a wedding, a third is a grandchild’s birth. No matter what tale I begin to tell, Ben shows up, his antics woven deeply into the fabric of my life.


In September 1992, Ben returned from Paris. He threw everything he owned into the back of his new red pick-up truck and drove to California to work for a film company, an impulsive venture, the first of many. Nine months later, he transported art from Phoenix to Toronto to earn a few hundred dollars. After depositing the shipment, he surprised us, arriving in Chicago at dinnertime.

“I just started packing my stuff and couldn’t stop. Los Angeles is not for me.”

Ben traveled light, moved impulsively and left furnishings with abandon. When his moment came on July 3, he took his chance to discard the joy that had become a burden.


ela said...

I wish to say again,I love Your stories Barbara:)

martha boyer said...

Barbara, you are in my heart each day as I want my gardens around "The Barn" and when I sit at "the tea house" I can see you and Steve in my mind's eye walking to see the lower garden paths. All my love to you both. Martha