Morning here was foggy, grey, and damp. They were the type of cold that stuck to your skin making you ghostly white. It was not until the sun hit the horizon, staining the sky like dandelions stain your hands in springtime, that you felt you could finally breathe. The house had sold during the hours of damp grey to a younger couple that was new to town. Fortunate for both of us I guess seeing how it had been so hard to sell it before. The locals here always passing me with pitty written all over their familiar faces. No one wanted to buy the house because they just thought I was selling out of a mourn-induced psychotic meltdown.
“Such a beautiful house. I’m sure you’re so sad to see it go?” The new lady of the house asked in a low voice. She was here with the new man of the house to sign the last of the paperwork. I watched her watch the blue horizon of the sea just beyond the window she gazed out of. I watched as the sun began to awaken her features with its soft colorful fingers. I knew she saw the small boats floating there on the horizon. Some like small flecks of dirt ruining the would-be beautiful sunrise over the sea.
“Yes, it is a shame.” I lied, “but I have found work in the next town over, no use keeping the place.” More lies. The truth was I could not bear another second in this wretched place. Maybe the locals had been right to say I had a psychotic break, but not due to my mother’s recent death, I would have been broken a long time ago.
The same window holding this woman’s attention was also the one favored by my late mother. In fact, it was rare she would ever peel her gaze away for more than a second. For fear of missing a single boat that may appear suddenly on the never-ending stretch of the horizon before her. My mother was waiting for someone that would never return to see her alive. My father was the only love of her life. The sea was the only love of his. Then there was me a happy accident that did not fit anywhere in either of their lives. She would tell me I did not understand because I had never loved anything the way he loved the sea. I had not yet known the love she had for him. My mother was often wrong when she spoke of things I did not know because I loved her that way.
The story goes, or so she had told it this way, my father was born in the middle of the ocean during his family's journey here to our town. He was named Lewis after the ship they had been aboard “The Lewiston”. My mother said when he held her she felt as though she was out at sea. Her world gently swayed beneath her as the smell of salt filled her nose. His muscled arms were smooth from the sea air and his hair always had a gentle curl. “He was like the sea God Poseidon,” she would whisper with awe.
It did not matter to me how she tried to twist the tale. The reality of it was he was gone. My father loved his sea more than both of us combined. Lewis was working with the town to chart the surrounding waters. He was eager to finish his current job, “charting a new island we have just discovered,” he left a few days before his crew. They had waited because of the rumored storm on the horizon. The storm that had come and ripped through my mother ferociously. The last good thing she remembered was watching his boat head peacefully toward the horizon. And, every day since then she waited for it to peacefully return.
That was 15 years ago. That was 15 continuous years my mother urgently pulled out of reality. Not being able to handle a moment that did not contain the love of her life. We did not even have a funeral because she refused to believe he was dead. My mother died too young because every day he did not return another piece of her died with him. For years I longed to be enough for her. I longed to achieve enough of her attention to peel her gaze from that window. For her just to see the love I had could be enough for both of us. There were times when the storms would come sweeping in from the sea. The same kinds of storms that rumbled in after my father left. These times were the worst for my mother. They would make her do crazy things like go down to the docks and try to take a random boat out of the harbor. There she would be, all pale skin and bones soaking through her clothes. Her dark hair matted over her sharp facial features. Even in the rain, you could tell she was crying because of how red her eyes were against the rest of her. My mother would be down there yelling at some man who was refusing to let her on his boat. Calling him filthy names and swearing she would curse him a million times over if he didn’t get out of the way. Then there I would be, running over the slick wooden dock. My feet making each plank reverberate underneath me as I hurried towards them. I would stand in front of my mother in the pouring rain as the winds wiped my hair over my soaked flesh. Placing my hands on her cheeks, her forehead, wiping the hair out of her eyes, and trying to get her eyes to focus on me. “Momma!” I would shout fighting the sounds of rain and waves against the wood. Eventually, she would find me. My mother would awaken from her frenzy to find me standing in the storm before her. Both of us crying but for very different reasons. Eventually, she would allow me to gently steer her back to the house. Where she would sit, wrapped in a blanket to dry and watch the storm play out from the window. Her tears never faltering as they swam down her face. Those were the worst of times. When my heart would break alongside hers.
Deep in my heart, I knew that her death was the best thing for her. I knew what the locals whispered about us when they thought I could not hear them. I knew they ‘tsked’ their tongues when they saw me about on my own doing the shopping or hanging the laundry. Who were they to judge? They knew nothing of love or the loss of it. Not like we did. Now that my mother was gone I was free to do everything I could not do before. Like leave this house and never look back. I was not sure where I would go and it did not particularly matter. As I stand here now watching an unfamiliar woman look out the same window my mother had for the last 15 years it is as though things have finally come full circle. This woman looks out with hope for her future. Her eyes full of mystery, excitement, and adventure. In my heart, I hope that she finds it all and more. Either way, it makes no difference to me.
I hand the keys over to the couple and the banker hands the paperwork over to me. He instructs me the payment has all been successfully deposited into my account at the bank. “Everything seems to be in order,” he says while adjusting his belt slightly out of pride for himself for making such a good sale. The new couple beams happily at each other. The three of them all in the highest of spirits as I turn my back to start towards the door. No one calls out my name as I take the steps towards my freedom. Quite physically feeling the heaviness being torn from each limp with each step closer to the door. Finally, I break free from the doorframe gulping in the crisp morning air. There has never been a moment when I did not feel caged by love. My father’s love for the sea. My mother’s love for my father. My love for my mother. Never except in this exact moment when I passed through the doorframe of my family’s house for the last time. And, it was everything I could have ever hoped for. I continued forward and I had no plans on stopping until I was as far away from this sea as I could manage.