This is the time of year when people are especially conscious of counting their blessings and giving thanks. I feel quite frightened about the future, but every day I tell myself that somehow, some way, things are going to be alright. And I’m thankful for many things. I could fill pages with my gratitudes but instead decided to write about one experience in particular that happened last summer and is still on my mind. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (!)
My mother and I were on the bus from Portland to Eugene when I learned that our reservations were all screwed up. After staying a night with our friends in Eugene, the plan was that the four of us would head to Florence on the Oregon Coast for four nights in a resort. I was happy that this badly needed break had begun. I had just left 33 years of employment to write and self-publish a novel and it was nice to take a moment of meditation before plunging into a completely new way of life. As the bus rolled along, I called the hotel to confirm that our check-in time was 4 pm. It was just a whim since I was pretty sure of the answer and that’s when I heard the desk clerk tell me that they had our reservation booked for the following month.
The whole bus must have heard my dismay and distress — how did this happen? (That’s a long story.) I was beside myself. Luckily they were still able to book us for two nights but after hanging up with the hotel and giving the bad news to my mother, I dreaded telling our friends. One in particular needed this getaway badly and would be especially disappointed. Two nights at the coast was better than nothing but, well, you’ve hardly arrived and had time to appreciate the beauty when it’s time to leave. People on the bus were very kind. One lady told me all her terrible problems to put mine in perspective which they certainly did.
Things were not as bleak as they seemed. Once we got to Kerry and Joanne’s house, Kerry jumped on the Internet and found a site where we could rent a house. Together through a somewhat arduous process we sealed the deal and rented a place in Yachats for two nights.
I’m not good with disappointment. I still remember my first two major disappointments in life at the age of nine. (Some are thinking: You got to nine with no major disappointments? Dude, You were golden.) One was a family trip to a cabin on a lake that fell through — no vacation for us that summer. The other was some Archie, Casper the Ghost and Richie Rich comics I ordered. They took eight months to arrive and by the time they came, I didn’t care about them anymore because I’d spent so much time being angry and disappointed about the delay. So forty-five years later finds me dealing with the disappointment that our time was cut in half on beautiful Heceta Beach.
And this was my lesson: Be flexible. Be open to the possibilities. Go with the flow. Maybe the new alternative is actually better. And as it turned out, it was. Optiaqua was the name of our rental house and the way that word sounds is reflective of the memorable time we had there.
I had never spent time in Yachats — Florence had always been my preference. Now I have a new favorite. The house was circular with a spectacular view of the ocean which was just across the street. The low-traffic road was a great place to walk along the bay and I fell in love with the view that suddenly spread out before us when we turned a corner: the houses, shops and businesses of Yachats nestled on the hill in colorful, serried ranks. It was a charming picture and right below was a stunning little beach. Joanne and I got to discover this together and learned that we shared a love of walking. She had fond childhood memories of exploring the countless tide pools on the giant rugged rocks that form the coastline of the village.
Other Optiaqua memories include the four of us sitting in the hot tub. On the second evening in the tub, a brisk breeze kept my face deliciously cool as Kerry and I felt sheer glee at the number and brightness of stars in the dark velvety vastness — clouds had hidden them the night before. Kerry is facing significant health challenges that call on her substantial faith. Changes in my life and in the world call for my faith too. I don’t know that I can articulate how that night under the stars seemed like a grand affirmation smiling down on us, but it did. From the living room the next afternoon I watched sunlight on the ocean: so many twinkles randomly scattered, sparkling and vanishing in less than a second — it was hypnotic to watch. One night from my bed, I had a clear view of the moon and the moonshine path it cast and celebrated with a little midnight feast of dark chocolate and strawberries before the brilliant orb dipped out of sight.
We wanted to stay at Optiaqua for all four nights but others had the place booked so we had to move on. Initially I was disappointed until I thought, I had two magical days and nights here with my mother and wonderful friends and we have two more days in Florence as well. The appropriate emotion now is GRATITUDE. We were incredibly fortunate to find Optiaqua and we all felt it.