Every Spirit builds itself a house…

and beyond that house a world,

and beyond that world a heaven.

William Butler Yeats—

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A pink house? Hmmm. Think landmarks, I remind myself. On Nantucket, I tell new visitors, “Turn left at the end of New Lane, past the Old North Burying Ground, first house on the right, look for the big blue boat in the yard.” THis will serve the same purpose, for a while anyway. Like Elvis’s pink Cadillac, our life’s brash new Post-It note will be this old farm-house. Snug on it’s alloted hunk of sandy soil,witness to a hundred gusty gales, a four-square old-timer, honest as a pocket watch, built in 1920, when flappers danced, whiskey flowed, Al Jolsen sang Mammy to the darkened Moviola throngs. Henry Ford birthed a million coal-black flivvers onto a million serpentine potholes of rural America. THis is, will be, amazingly, our new home,  the sweetest semicolon tacked onto the end of your sentence. Already we are redesigning the atmospheres. shoving couches, washing windows, launching sailboats, daubing color. Already I am chopping skylights in ancient roof skin, carving new passageways and birthing bump-outs. Already we are waking to bright new dawns, strolling along seawalls, tossing cracker crumbs to resident swans who call our backyard pond home. Already…as in all ready. This day had to come.  As parole weaves drunkenly away, and prison is a long view in a cracked mirror. We come home, to a town we discovered together, this brave new Lewis and Clark of our love.

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Our first peek at ‘Little Pink’, AKA Amazing Grace, as Marc, soon to be our new landlord, (as we rent out the winter months until the down payment tree drops some booty fruit), has dubbed the house. I watch your eyes, peering through the kitchen window, and count the days you spent in prison, trying not to dream of tomorrows. It is dawn; ‘we’ve just driven from Boston. Later on, we will have a bona-fide walk-through with Justine, the broker at 1:30, but for now, as the early morning sun burns its way to the heavens, we sneak our own little pre-tour in. The house seems to vibrate, purring at our arrival, as if a sleeping cat, a beloved pet,  gently woken.

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Door jambs, creeping shadows, illuminated by new mystery. The delight and potential of homecoming swells the capillaries of our madly beating hearts.

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“I love old bottles,” you once told me. These, ancient mason jars and apothecary bottles, crowd the kitchen’s closet roof.  Another measure of similars and emotional kindreds the house bestows.

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Stairs lead up, (where else?). to the tower bedchamber. Each night, It will hear the soft rustle of naked toes on treads, heading up or down, homeward passages from late-night snacks, jam sessions, muffled downstairs TV or email look-sees while the other keeps the covers warm.

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View from the boathouse. Recycled stained glass from some urban tear-down. Beyond the frosted panes, you are wondering, “I wonder who lives next door.”

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I walked to the pond’s muddy verge, and found this trumpeter swan, lazing fearlessly beyond a mallard whirligig, and captured his regal portrait.

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If we rotate the bed northerly, we can gaze at the Atlantic, a short hop across the street, between two houses, past a monolithic storm wall.

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A second dwelling, painted to match, hangs from a beam on the farmer’s porch, for the wintering barn swallows, cardinals, and finches.

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A step-down to the daisy bath, a room we are least drawn to, a room perhaps threatened, if we stay, and buy, with gentle demolition. I have always promised you a real sit-down tub, and besides,  I hate sheetrock.

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Navigating the rocky strand across our new road. We meet a young couple out for a dawn stroll, and, of course, because this is in Gus’s hands after all, when I ask if there’s a waiting list for a boat mooring, he tells me not only is there none, (Nantucket is 12 years) but he’s the guy who puts them in the water. Ahhhh.

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I stoop to snap, and quickly become fixated, on the millions of stones, pebbles, and boulders (!all completely different!), that litter the beach.

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A short sail across the harbor, a lonely granite outpost, a solitary house, shuttered and cold, like a dog by the door, waiting for its family to return.

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The Hull bath house pavilion, an impenetrable Deco veteran where beach-goers can wriggle from soggy suits, pee, rinse the sand from their toes, marvel at the old world gentility of such a place.

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Hanging school-house globe lights, suspended like fifties sci-fi movie props.

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A ribbon of dawn slithers like a sun snake into the Great Room.

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“Take that picture,” you sweetly demand, like a movie director. Liquid luminescence, filtered through the glass black wall, floats like an underwater subdivision of Oz.

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Strolling local and smiling Husky. I remember Brown Dog, how, in his geriatric dotage, he would ignore other dogs on the passing by, the sovereign master of his world, where I slowly became his only subject.

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Condominium living room. An ugly white box squatting directly across the boulevard from Nantasket Beach. It had an elevator, and when I rode it to our floor, little wetsuit footprints left behind to baffle the next passengers. The tides are amazing on this stretch of the Atlantic. One minute a football field’s hike out to the waves, six hours later whitecaps are nipping at the seawall, hurling wispy clouds of briny spume onto the traffic.

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Retired Coast Guard motor rescue boat, circa 1940s, its steel hull beams poking through like an old man’s emaciated  belly.  Hull is famous for its lifesavers; tales of four-masters coming to grief between the rocky Boston harbor islands met by a stout rescue boats, dories like cockleshells manned by indefatigable Hull supermen pulling on oaken oars in pork pie hats, suspenders, and neckties.

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Old red crane, at Land’s End, next to the redneck biker bar. My father, the painter, would have surely circled it, snapped a Polaroid and done it’s portrait.

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At Pemberton, where the Boston ferry docks, there is a rusted barge, and on that barge sits this rusty, welded specimen, part of some heroic arts festival of summer’s past. Perhaps, if we linger in this town long enough, we will meet the fish’s author; no doubt a wild and wooly artsy curmudgeon living down by the docks in a converted lobster boat, where he shits in a bucket and scrawls broody couplets to lost love, as his woman will have just left him, and he is struggling with the drink, but not enough to truly stop, and he is a chain-smoking, fire-breathing monster, dreaming his next caffeinated conquest made from old truck axles, baking pans, and discarded oil drums.

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Fascination, Nantasket Beach. Lit from below on a balmy summer’s eve for the strolling touristas. This is some kind of gambling arcade, where games of chance like Beano or Bingo or perhaps some mildly legal form of one-armed bandit draws the retired and bored but still hopeful lingerers wandering in off the muggy sidewalk.

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Playland, looking more like a curbside oil-changing shop than an amusement park. Oh well, we decide. Give it style points for at least trying to be the life of the party.

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Win Big. Reflections of us and the Nantasket sea wall beyond. A strangely off-season familiar place, caught off-guard, like an old beauty without her makeup.

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God Bless America. Look carefully and the rows of sucker seats inside the betting emporium materialize.

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Manhole cover. Street textures, accidental art, pattern recognition confound and amuse my beginner’s eye.

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Mermaid on the wall, facing the Hull mini golf. Is this the same artist who welded the rusty carp on Pemberton?  Surely the town must have more than one eccentric Da Vinci living in the creative cracks between the constantly hustling Boston commuters and the local implants suffering from a lifetime of chronic root-rot.

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MIni Golf’s mini wind-powered oil well, a truly bizarre totemic juxtaposition. The ghostie  burble of bored townie kids leaning on the rail, grimly rubbernecking vacationing families playing a round. Slowly circumnavigating the musty astroturf,  desultorally bopping  plastic orbs off of fiberglass dinosaurs, trying hard not to spend their fun all in one place.

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