On land once again, Lisa drove me to the door of my bed-and-breakfast, a small house among houses near the shoreline, one block from the passageway between the Olympic Mountains of Washington state and the edge of B.C. Effusive in my thanks, I opened the door and pulled my suitcases out of the car. We hugged our farewells, friends now after so many hours of getting-to-know-you and the familiar glue of knowing what it is to grow up in a tight Jewish community in suburban Detroit. It was as if we were sisters of a sort and as they drove away, I waved and watched the old minivan disappear down the street.
Up the steps of Binners B&B, the gray exterior of the house and the English gardens in full bloom all around the small front lawn, I stopped at the door. There hung a mezuzah, the tiny parchment insurance policy, a blessing from above to mark the house a home and recognize certain rituals of tradition that are hard to abandon, even by the most secular of Jews. I was so far away from what I envisioned to be a Jewish community – both in geography and in emotion. And yet I chose a B&B owned by Jews by pure coincidence. Or maybe it wasn’t.
They showed me to my room – a glorious continuation of spaces from jetted tub and heated tiles in the bathroom floor to a cozy queen bed with curtains on the French doors that led to the sitting room. The sitting room was mine to enjoy, with CD player and television and a laptop for my use. Windows all around and the sun rose early in Victoria.
I ventured into town for dinner at the Blue Crab Bar & Grill, a waterfront hotel dining room where I ate raw oysters fresh from the sea and a salad of fresh greens. The bay water moved as the world fell still. Though I had traveled long hours and many miles, I was energized. Sailboats outside the restaurant held silent masts with small Canadian flags fluttering in rapid wind. A maple leaf, a white cloak, the red that grabs attention against the soothing white of snow.
A glass of dark Shiraz and then another, I drank gem stones. So far from home, I thought of the plaque on the wall beside my office computer: What would you do if you knew you could not fail? And then I wondered, is failing more proof of living than success?
My aisle seat on the plane, chosen by my father who gave me the ticket, was chosen for the leg room, the easy exit, the access to escape once the plane descended. Beside me, a coincidence? Friendship, guidance, a north star among unfamiliar skies.
I could see my country from the breakwater, a space I walked along after dinner to ease the tired that was creeping in. Snow topped the mountains, even in summer. It was June 21st, the longest day of the year, the sunlight stretching far into the night to kick morning in close. I walked forested paths, in quiet repose, in thought, in song.
I wrote in my journal: I am like a sea plane, perched on the water, never submerged, gaining lift with momentum and incentive, wings spread to fly.