The insurance adjustor says they’ll pay for us to stay in a residential hotel, two one-bedroom suites. We argue… seven people in four rooms for a month or more… sounds like hell. We make a counter-offer, combing Vrbo and AirB&B to find a rental that has more space and is cheaper than the hotel. We find a few candidates and send them in. We settle on one in Plymouth, near the beach (all such short-term rentals in Massachusetts are near the beach, it seems.) Amazingly, insurance agrees to reimburse us for a rental house.
So after our short Cape Cod vacation we decamp to Plymouth. We can see a snippet of the ocean from the living room window, just over the roofs of some houses and between some trees, a bit more ocean from the upstairs windows.
We can walk to the beach. We explore the local public library, a very small branch. We find a stream that flows into the sea nearby that’s fun to wade and swim in.
We find a kite in the basement and take it to the beach and flew it– I don’t think the kids have ever flown a kite before.
We find a little marsh. We watch birds. We classify the different kinds of houses near the beach.
We can hear the ocean from the living room windows when the night is quiet and the wind is just right. We find a stronge object on the beach and learn it is a whelk’s egg-case. We find sea glass. We discuss the difference between organic and inorganic, natural and man-made objects that we find on the beach. Sophie proposes drawing a Venn diagram. Anthony tweaks my drawing.
We learn something about the history of the area. The kids buy some Lego kits at the store with their own money and build them. They miss their toys, packed away. They miss home. They miss the things they didn’t bring because they didn’t realize how long we’d be gone. They’re tired of wandering. They miss home. But they are trying to make the best of this vacation and to enjoy things as they come. Even if sometimes we must take a moment to mourn what we don’t have.
Some friends set up a Go Fund Me. Insurance will cover the replacement of floors and repainting. They won’t cover the plumbing. They’ll cover the storage pod and some of the meals we had to eat out. It looks like we will be homeless for at least a month. (I’m skeptical that it will be only a month. The plumber has covid and hasn’t even started the work. Now he’s not returning our phone calls at all. We are trying to find a new plumber. After three weeks no work has been done at all. Trying to find another plumber… not going well.) The contractor can only do so much until the plumbing issues are resolved.
The kids wonder what we will do for Halloween. The dress up clothes are packed in the pod. Where will we be living at the end of October? We have no idea, but it’s probably here in Plymouth.
I’ve packed up our homeschooling books and brought them with us, but we are far from being able to slip back into a routine. We made a feeble effort at some school work on the rainy days we had at the Cape, but no one’s heart was in it.
Right now we are enjoying our surreal unplanned vacation. The only one doing any real school work is Isabella who is taking an online chemistry class that can’t be put off.
Of course laundry and cooking and doing the dishes and caring for people goes on. Vacation for mom is just the same tasks in a different place.
But the houses we’ve been staying in on our sojourn are clean and uncluttered. Airy. And bigger than our house. I try not to spend too much time imagining we could stay for good, that this could be our permanent home. Meanwhile, I’m so very grateful to be able to have a nice place to be, a vacation, time on the beach, even if my feet hurt and my hips don’t like me walking on sand or climbing stairs.
I’m finally finding the mental space to write, the time to sit and put words together in order. Not beautiful, but necessary words. And maybe I can get back to seeking beauty in writing soon. i’m looking forward to finding some time now to sit and breathe and create.
I take my sketchbook and watercolor set to the beach and paint a picture while Dom watches the kids swimming. I draw the whelk egg-casing. I wish I could sit and draw and write all day, but laundry and cooking and shopping and tending kids must happen no matter where we are. Not as much of a vacation for me as I could wish. But there are moments stolen and precious that I cherish nonetheless.