A weathered sign floated by the window as the train groaned to a stop. This is it: My stop. I swung the 50 pound duffle onto my right shoulder, clocking the old gentleman who’d been dozing listlessly next to me on the side of the head. “Oh, sorry,” I wailed, “I’m so,… so sorry. I think this is where I need to get off.”
Grabbing my other 50 pound duffle under my left arm like a rebellious toddler I ping-ponged my way down the aisle to the human delimbinator (aka. the train door) now threatening menacingly to take off one of my limbs if I didn’t get my rear and two parasitic duffle bags in gear.
Thwump-eer! (echo, echo, and a teeny third…): That’s the sound my tennis shoes made on the wooden platform as the train was already moving away. I figured I’d better step back a bit lest the delimbinator decide I was lunch. As I turned and walked across the platform, the wooden planks shrieking in protest with every step, I noticed that the small platform was… um… empty? Perhaps a more accurate term would be, “deserted.”
Looking to the East, as far as the eye could see was a beautiful meadow with sheep, and beyond that, trees. Looking over to the North, as far as the eye could see was a beautiful meadow with sheep, and beyond that, more trees. Looking to the West, as far as the eye could see was a beautiful meadow with sheep, bifurcated by an old train track and a rapidly disappearing train.
This is the stuff of horror movies, is it not?
“OK, Skinny Crab” (I could call myself that in those days, ‘cause I was), “No need to panic. You’ll be fine. Just keep your head…” Lightening flashed in the lowering sky. “And you’ll be fine. Totally fine. No worries.” The thunder resounded in response. “Seriously?”
Did I mention how I’m not making this stuff up?
Let me go back a bit. I was young – early 20’s — insatiably curious and a bit reckless. Nothing could touch me because at that age, everyone is invincible. I’d been working at a travel agency to save up money for school. Travel agencies have a unique bead on all the amazing travel deals there are to be found… everywhere… in the world. In the course of my duties — for I was indeed a most dutiful employee — I found this too-good-to-be-believed deal to the country of my ancestry… at least part of my ancestry comes from there.
Being young, insatiably curious and recklessly unattached, I leaped spread-eagle off the edge of that cliff and bought the airline ticket. Who would go with me? No one. I am a young independent curiously unattached wreck who will do as I please, thank you very much. Where would I lodge while there? Hey, I have… friends… connections. You know. I can’t afford a hotel so I’ll call my contacts. It’ll work out.
Well, it did work out for the week and a half I was there. By the good grace of some very good and gracious people who, for whatever reason loved me enough to welcome me into their home with open arms, I was able to arrange shelter everywhere I went. All except this place. I didn’t know anyone here. I actually thought, once I arrived, that I would splurge on a hotel for this one night. I’ll just find it when I get there. After all, how hard could it be to find a Bed and Breakfast in such a great little tourist spot as this.
Dramatic pause while I let the great sky narrator say, “Little did she know…”
This is the proverbial home of my father’s family. Our name comes from here. This island is named after someone who sired me in generations past. (No, I am not a horse. Nor was he, to my knowledge.) I have always wanted to see this place with my own eyes; to inhale the air; to set my foot upon the land of my forefathers that I may offer thanks for their lives and the life they’ve bequeathed to me.
And now, as the rain sprinkles down on the old plank platform, I’m standing here in the land of my ancestry looking out over the fields of sheep. And all that comes to mind is, “What the hello-marjorie-merrith-dodge was I thinking?”
…to be continued.