The past suffers a condition akin to erosion. A good deal of that erosion is natural. As the years add up it becomes harder to hold on to the substance of a life. The physical, such as books and photos and letters and trinkets, as well as the non-physical, the memories, emotions, longings and delights, become too numerous to keep on hand. It’s a fate suffered on both the real and the ethereal and one I’ve learned to accept…a variation on the out with the old/in with the new adage). But the casualties can be painful: a book inscribed by a sister, a picture of a wet but smiling couple on the Maid of the Mist under Niagara Falls, or a first kiss on the upper deck of the Staten Island Ferry. At some point these artifacts start to fall through the cracks and fade, or disappear entirely. That is until something, an unexpected track off a CD, a conversation, a dream or an unexpected Facebook update sheds enough light on the thing to bring it back to life. It happens more often than you can imagine and it happened vividly this past week at the bnb.
Nicole and Harry, through their casual friendliness, their willingness to share, even their accents, so clearly brought that gritty state where they are from, New Jersey, into focus. Who else is going to, after the gentlest of requests, play some tunes on their guitar? Who else is going to hand me a recently bought album (yes, vinyl) and say, here, add it to your collection? Who else is going to proffer an invitation to stop by if I’m ever back east, than someone with a soul nurtured on the brash and stark openness that is the norm in New Jersey?
Mostly I learn new things from guests — new destinations, new recipes, new books and TV shows, the newest cameras or android phones. Sometimes, however, I learn something from the past. In this case it was Hey, I’m from New Jersey too! Yes, good old Metuchen. A small, commuter’s town in the north which was decidedly plain-Jane when I lived there back in the 60’s. But it was a place rich in soul and sharing. And to think I’d almost forgotten.
So thanks Nicole and Harry. And thanks to recent guests who whether they know it or not, always taught me something (new or old) and left valuable gifts in their wake. Trust me, you really did.
Sumi and Barney. What characters. What charmers. I really didn’t know what was coming next with these two. Their far-flung travels. Their unexpected careers. Perfect for each other? It sure seems that way. And perfect for the bnb. Brilliant folks indeed.
Carmen and Jeff. Funny that these nearby neighbors had never visited the redwoods. Making up for lost time they found the Titans, dined well in Crescent City, scored a salmon dinner here, and even found time to treat us a late-night glass of wine. Welcome to the neighborhood!
Chris and Dorothe. Talk about sharing wine. I can hardly remember the details but I know it was fun! No, no…I remember it all. The sharing of stories, the photos from home, history lessons of southern Germany, and yes, the wine. I am coming to Germany one day to see what is in your cellar — fair warning guys!
New Zealanders with a passion for travel, Anita and David had just kicked off a three-week tour of the western US (counterpoint to their earlier trip on the east coast). Professionals, accomplished, and adventurous, they were also soft-spoken and laid back. No kinder folks have stayed at the bnb.
Ann and Brian, from my former home state, Texas. In for just a night, we fawned over Molly and fought for airtime as we each told our animal stories (they are dog aficionados as I am). We hardly had enough time to tell our tails. Hey, any friend of Molly is a friend of mine
More Aussies (John and Jenny, Dianne and Michael) with spunk, charm and style. It seems to be the national pastime for Australians on holiday to book a room at the bnb and then proceed to entertain and enthrall. Lucky me. From my notes: Over drinks and dinner, the crew relives trips to Patagonia and Europe. Discouraging each other from thinking too far in the past or too far ahead — better to enjoy the moment. I couldn’t agree more.
OMG…hold the presses — this just in! I found some humans who might be even more attached to their dogs than I was to Anton and than I am now to Molly. Is it possible? It takes a big heart to be such lovers of life but I found my match in Christy and Stephen. Molly misses you too. 🙂
Daniel and Jacey. Out for business but with an eye for beauty, they scooted down to the redwoods before their conference kicked off nearby. “The experience and relationship with nature and how it contributes to our health” is what they were looking into. Just a night at the bnb but I hope our location in the trees and by the river added to their knowledge base.
Diane and Jim arrived on a night of wind and rain. A day early as locations to the south had lost electricity (funny, but not Hiouchi). Calm folks from the Midwest, they were from SoCal now. But no matter how long they call the west coast home, good people like this will never betray the Midwestern qualities of friendliness, humility, and caring. I saw it all over their stay.
Grant. A true gentleman who found awe in the trees and trails. Even brought his walking stick back home so enthralled with the redwoods was he. We talked and talked about trails, but he was also a walker. Gone early and back late, few guests have walked as many miles as Grant in the short span he was here. Bravo.
Ah, my peeps from Jersey! Harry and Nicole. All heart. Lots of fun. Entertaining. Joyful. Sometimes I miss the spirited folks from back east. Thanks for reminding me. (And how’d you know I love Chet Atkins?!)
Back for more, Heather and Ian returned for another night at the bnb. Late to arrive and too early to go, I look forward to the day when their stay is for longer then a single night. But they do pack in a ton of smiles. You’ll be back, I know it!