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Our Love Story, Part III
About a month after our second date, Ed asked me to go to Maine with his family for New Year’s. They have a little cottage that they restored on Beals Island, which is about an eight-hour drive from here. The house is right on the beach, near the bridge that connects the island to the main land. I remember worrying about packing; what clothes and shoes to bring, wanting to dress appropriately for a family vacation and make a good impression on his parents. While I had enjoyed spending time with his family, I was worried about spending a few days with them.
When we got to Beals, I completely fell in love with the cottage. The big room downstairs has wood beams, and the walls are painted a sage green. There are antlers and animal furs decorating the walls, with boats, fish and shells mixed in. Ed built the mustard yellow TV corner cabinet, the coffee table, end tables, and kitchen table. For the first time, I appreciated his skill and craftsmanship.
The first night that we were there, Marie and Rich cooked lobster. Their friends on the island, the Carvers, are lobster fishermen. I had never enjoyed eating lobster. I never liked the smell, and so I never ate it. However, I wanted to make a good impression, and I knew how much lobsters cost, so I ate it. I could learn to like lobster, I thought. Later, we visited the Carver family. I enjoyed sitting with Ruth, who reminds me of my great-grandma Rose, and the whole crew gathered in her kitchen to play a rousing game of farkel. Farkel is a dice game, and it’s a blast to play on chilly Maine winter nights. We chatted and tossed dice until late into the evening, while Ed and his dad talked in the other room with Guy, Ruth’s husband, about lobstering and the good old days. We walked down the street back to their cottage and turned in. I felt like I had such a great day, enjoyed myself, and made a good impression on Ed’s parents and their friends in Maine.
At around 2:00 am, I woke up. My stomach was churning. The cottage has one bathroom, downstairs. Ed and I were sleeping upstairs, and his parents slept downstairs by the fire. I bolted out of bed and ran down the stairs. Karma! I never should have laughed at Ed when he choked on that salmon bone. It turns out that I’m allergic to lobster, which is why I never liked the smell. My body was rejecting that lobster dinner. I threw up in the bathroom, in the little cottage that had no privacy.
“Ab?” It was Ed’s mom at the bathroom door. “Are you okay?”
“Oh, yeah. Just a little sick, but I’m fine now.” I was so embarrassed. I wanted so badly to make a good impression. And here I was, waking up the whole house puking up the expensive lobster dinner that their friends had risked their lives to catch for me. I could have died right then.
I went back up the stairs. Ed asked if I was okay, if I needed anything. I was crying. Being sick had brought tears to my eyes, and once they started to flow, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t believe I had been sick. He went downstairs and got me a drink of water then rubbed my back until I fell asleep.
The next morning, the sun shone brightly into the upstairs bedroom window. Ed woke me up and told me to look outside. Through the window, I could see the lobster boats going under the bridge, heading out for the day. The sunlight danced on the water in the reach, and it took my breath away. We got up and headed over to the breakfast spot: Tall Barney’s. Ed’s family seemed to know all the lobstermen who were there eating breakfast. We met the Carvers there, and I had the best blueberry pancakes with wild Maine blueberries.
When we went back to the cottage, Marie was excited to show me the beach. We walked out in the chilly winter air, bundled up. I was cold, but I soon forgot about the temperature when I saw what was on the beach. Years before, people threw their trash off of the bridge, which led to an endless supply of sea glass on the beach in front of their cottage. I spent hours walking around, collecting sea glass in all shades of aqua, green, clear, blue, brown, and even the coveted purple, pink, and red. Occasional pieces of blue willow china and even tea cups appeared when the tide went out. Ed laughed as I filled jars and bags with the glass, sorted my finds, and ventured out after each tide to see what new treasures had appeared. Even in January, I was excited to run out and walk around on the rocks. Ed and his dad kept the fireplace going, and I would sit by the fire and cuddle with Ed to warm up.
These are still my favorite things about Beals: the family and friends to spend time with, the sea glass to collect on the beach, and watching the lobster boats out the window in the morning without even getting out of bed. On that first trip, I fell in love with that cottage and I fell even more in love with Ed. I loved that I could be myself in front of him and his family, and that they accepted me. I could picture us going there for the rest of our lives, bringing our children and grandchildren to the little cottage by the bridge on Beals Island.