I vowed to do it differently this time for our 24 hour, just us, excursion to Block Island. A change of clothes, a bathing suit, and my notebook. (I never leave home without my notebook).
Sitting on the ferry, we position ourselves on the deck and bake in the ninety degree heat, graced by an occasional breeze. It feels like we are traveling far far away, or at least that’s what I imagine as I watch the boat let go of the mainland and all my daily responsibilities.
When we arrive on the island, I am surprised by the volume of people waiting at the ferry for guests or to board. It is a Tuesday. Our fellow vacationers seem to know exactly where they are going.
Not us. We walk in the general direction of where we think our B & B is, and on the way stop for lunch at an oceanside restaurant. Clams dipped in butter, glass of cold white wine. Yum.
Next we find our B & B. It is charming but quirky. We drop our luggage, don our suits and fill our little cooler with necessities. It is then I notice Rob has a book. He is vastly more prepared, than I, for the beach. The downside of “packing light.”
Luckily, as we depart our “cottage” I spot a little library across the street. Rob is busy picking two chairs from the provided pile. “Be right there,” I say, and head across the street.
Approaching the front door, I see a small cart of books and my heart flutters with anticipation. Book sale?
“There’s more inside,” a fellow rummager offers.
“Thanks,” I say.
I pause for a moment realizing I am in my bathing suit with nothing else on but a t-shirt. And, I am carrying a cooler with a bottle of wine sticking out. Classy, very classy. I just hope the expanded book sale cart is right inside the door.
“Can we help you?” a friendly librarian inquires.
“I was told there were more books for sale?”
“Down those stairs, Room B.”
“Thanks.” So much for “right inside.”
I travel into the depths of the public library and can hardly contain my excitement upon entering Room B. Shelves and shelves of books from every genre and time period. I wander aimlessly, a bit overwhelmed. A sign reads: Books $1.
Uh-oh. I am carrying a cooler, not a purse. I pour through the front pocket of my whale decorated bag and thankfully find a wad of three singles.
I’d left Rob five maybe ten minutes ago, carrying our chairs to the beach and am pretty sure by now he’s wondering where I am. I need to choose quickly.
I looked at the shelf in front of me and see:
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Always wanted to read that one.
Cupcake by Rachel Cohn
Never heard of it but love the cover.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
I am pretty sure I saw the movie but never read the book. (Hate when I do that.)
I make my way to the front counter and hand the dollar bills to the friendly woman.
“We’re having a sale today, three books for one dollar.”
What? How is this possible? I resist the urge to return to Room B.
“What are those?” Rob asks, as I approach with my armload of books.
“Some books I found at the library right across from the Bed & Breakfast.”
“We’ve only been here an hour, how’d you swing a library card?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“Not really,” he says.
I lay the books on my lap. Where to begin? And that’s when it hit me. It’s my turn. To play agent. These three authors will have to win the right to have me read more...in just one sentence.
“A cappuccino cost me my life.”
Great first line...want to read on, but this game has its rules.
The Witching Hour:
“The doctor woke up afraid.”
Um, okay. Why?
Like Water for Chocolate:
“Take care to chop the onion fine.”
This first line thing is stupid, I decide. New rule: Read the entire first chapter, then decide.
Back to Cupcake:
I read about Cyd and her new life in New York City. She is having second thoughts about her decision to part ways with her high school sweetheart. She sets out in search of a truly great cappuccino and is disappointed. And so am I because by the time I finish Chapter 1, I don’t care about her search for self or her cappuccino quest. Go to Starbucks, I think and am immediately embarrassed by my judgy mid-life reaction. Let’s face it, I’m just not this book’s demographic.
The Witching Hour
Secretly I know this book is my beach destiny. It’s thick and meaty and Anne Rice wrote it, for God’s sake.
But by page two I can’t figure out if the Englishman and the doctor are having a conversation or the doctor is remembering the conversation. And are they in New Orleans or California? No wait it says the California man.
“Are you reading all three at the same time?” Rob asks, looking up from his book.
“I’m conducting a test. These authors have the first chapter to win me over. It’s like I’m the agent and they’re the client.”
“May the lightest book win.”
“Ha ha. I’m taking them all home.”
I continue reading The Witching Hour. It is interesting but requires more brain power than I have on this day. I find myself thinking of our dinner reservation. Do I have time to shower? Do I need to shower? Where is my literary dedication?
Like Water for Chocolate
The first page is full of descriptions about food and cooking. It is pleasant and magical, and then:
Tita knew perfectly well that all these questions would have to be buried in the archive of questions that have no answers.
I read the line again and then stare at the ocean. I think of Room B. Of all those books on the shelves. Of my own, not yet on the shelf.
I read on (and on and on).
“We’d better get ready for dinner,” says Rob, looking at his watch, quite a while later.
“I guess you found the winner?”
“Yup. Just ten more minutes,” I smile.
And for ten more glorious minutes, I am lost. Buried, actually. In the archive of beach reads from seasons past. Pondering questions that have no answers.
Deep in summer.
Deep in summer.