I stared at the blinking cursor, praying for divine intervention to drop words into my head. Obviously not just any words. Wonderful words. Magical words. Or at least words my readers won’t give a one-star review.
My cell vibrated, giving me a reason to tear my eyes away from the blank page. I smiled as my favorite aunt’s face filled the screen.
“Aunt Winnie. How was the yoga retreat?”
“It was wonderful. The villa was absolutely beautiful and I felt such an amazing connection to all the attendees.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”
“I truly did. There’s nothing like getting away from your normal space. It really helps recenter and rejuvenate,” she said.
“Your normal space is pretty great, but I suppose it still doesn’t compare to Tuscany.”
“Seaside is lovely but it’s nice to visit other parts of the world from time to time. There’s a different energy everywhere and it’s so healthy to experience and absorb it.”
Aunt Winnie is what my grandmother called a hippy-dippy. After graduating high school, she hopped into a Volkswagen Vanagon with five other people, hit the road, and lived like a nomad. She eventually settled in the idyllic town of Seaside, Oregon. And despite the fact she lived across the country from me, we managed to form a deep bond through her annual visits, phone calls, and a lot of letters.
“I should join you next time. A yoga retreat in Tuscany may be what I need to get myself straightened out.”
“Oh honey, are you still having trouble writing?”
I nodded, even though she can’t see.
“I’ve been a writer for the better part of a decade and yet, for the past three years, the words just won’t come. It’s like I forgot how to write. What’s wrong with me?”
“You’ve experienced trauma and need to give yourself time to heal from that.”
“The divorce was final three years ago. I should be healed by now.”
“Hmmm, maybe,” she said. “If you actually dealt with what happened.”
“I think I dealt with it pretty well. As soon as I found out John was cheating, I told him I wanted a divorce. I even went back to using my maiden name once it was final. Not to mention how I stepped out of my comfort zone and started taking pole dance fitness classes. I’m in better shape than I was at eighteen. Plus, I’ve made some amazing friends.”
“That’s all wonderful dear, but it doesn’t mean you’ve mentally sorted through it all or let it go,” she pointed out. “And the divorce isn’t the only trauma you’ve experienced. Grace graduated college then moved to England to pursue her master’s degree. That’s a big change for a parent.”
“I agree, the divorce and Grace moving across the pond were both big changes. But I honestly don’t think either of those are my issue.”
“Then what is?”
“I wish I knew.”
Thankfully I had some books stockpiled so my publishing schedule hasn’t totally
stopped, just slowed down a bit. But the last of my reserves is releasing next month, so if I don’t write something else soon, I don’t know what I’ll do.
“I have an idea,” Aunt Winnie said. “Why don’t you come here for an extended visit?”
“I appreciate that, but I don’t think I can.”
“Why on Earth not?”
“I really need to get at least one book done and I don’t write well on vacation.”
“Everly, you haven’t written well for the past three years and you haven’t gone anywhere.”
“Uh oh, using my full name. You must be serious.”
“I am serious,” she said. “A change of scenery might be just what you need. Plan on staying for the summer.”
Honestly, there’s no reason for me not to go. The only thing I’ll be leaving behind is pole class. I’ll miss my pole peeps, but it’s only for a few months. If there’s a chance it will help my words flow again, I’ll take it. Plus, it will be good to visit Aunt Winnie. We haven’t seen each other in person since Grace’s college graduation last year.
“Thanks Aunt Winnie. I’ll book a flight and let you know when I’ll be there.”
“Let me help you with that, Pop,” I said. “Why didn’t you wait for me?”
“I’m not an invalid. I’ve been unloading my own truck since before you were born.”
Which is exactly why he shouldn’t be doing it by himself. Instead of saying that and starting an argument, I emptied the last few items out of the truck. I watched my grandfather limp around to the passenger side and pull his toolbox out of the back seat.
“I can handle this if your gout is acting up.”
“I’m fine,” he grumbled. “Besides, this is a two-man job.”
“It’ll be easier with two, but I can handle it on my own if you need to rest.”
“Ach, I’ll rest when I’m dead.”
It seems like he’s pretty grumpy this morning so I let the subject drop. The man is seventy-three years old. He’s not going to change his ways at this point.
I grabbed a hammer and pry bar out of my toolbox and walked over to start the demo. The small deck we’re replacing is in pretty bad shape, so it didn’t take too long to dismantle.
Pop stood off to the side and watched as I knocked down the rest of the deck. His foot must really be bothering him because he’s never one to just observe, he’s usually right in the action showing me how to do it the “right way.”
Once I had the whole thing torn apart, I tossed the old wood into the bed of my pickup and joined Pop over by the pile of new material.
“I hope this scheme of yours works. Otherwise, we’re gonna be in the hole on this job. My quotes don’t leave enough room for us to spend double on material.”
We usually cut all the material on site, but I suggested we start doing at least some of it in Pop’s workshop and bring it with us instead. This is a small project, so it seemed like a good one to try my way. Surprisingly, he agreed without too much complaint.
“If it doesn’t work, I’ll pay for new material out of my own pocket.”
“I forgot you have those Hollywood big bucks and don’t have to worry about sticking to a budget.”
Ignoring the jab, I picked up my toolbelt and snapped it into place. Pop generally isn’t a ray of sunshine, but he’s usually in a better mood than this. The best thing I can do is get to work and finish this job early so he can go home and rest.
We worked side by side and got the flooring and steps done in record time. Thankfully all the cut pieces fit with minimal tweaking.
“Let’s take a break,” I said. “I’m starving.”
One thing I’ve learned through the years working with Pop is that he’ll keep going until a job is done. But if I stop, he’ll stop. So I make it a point to at least break for a drink to ensure he stays hydrated.
I ran to my truck and grabbed the cooler out of the back seat and joined Pop on the newly-constructed steps. Reaching inside, I handed him a bottle of water and a ham and cheese sandwich.
“Winnie Everly called last night. Her porch steps are loose and she needs a window in her studio replaced. Do you think you can handle that Saturday?”
That could explain some of his mood today, too. He and Winnie have been circling around each other since I moved here twelve years ago, and probably a couple decades before that too. I have no idea why they don’t just get together. They’re not getting any younger.
“I’d do it myself, but I have that meeting with the festival planning committee.” He took a bite of his sandwich and chewed. “That shouldn’t take too long though so maybe I can take care of Winnie’s projects in the afternoon instead of having you do it.”
“I don’t have any plans for Saturday, so it’s no problem.”
“Guess I better take you up on that now because once the festival starts, you’ll probably be busy.” He grunted and shook his head. “You’re thirty-three. Time to start settling down instead of just fooling around, don’t you think?”
I’ll admit that for the first few years I lived here, I was very busy during festival season. Vacationing women were perfect for what I was looking for at the time. Namely no-strings sex and for them to leave when it was over. And even though I haven’t done that in a long time, Pop still brings it up every year.
The truth is, I’d settle down tomorrow if I found the right woman, but no one in Seaside fits that description. Maybe someday.