Rejuvenation: NOW complete
In his early 70s Jacob was in fairly good shape both physically and mentally, as was his wife Sarah. Their children were grown with families of their own, and these two were both the other’s support system. He had retired several years earlier as a well-respected, senior executive for his company of several decades with all of the challenges required to demonstrate his skills as a true professional. BUT, where now for his motivations and achievements?
Over the years, Jacob had established himself as a decent sportsman in the activities most important to him, e.g., sailing, skiing, swimming, and mountain cycling. These were sports that were individual-based, unlike sports involving mates such as tennis and golf with which most of his associates were so engaged. Hence, he and Sarah did not belong to any social or sport clubs. The only events that brought the two of them together with others were those associated with their church and his company, and now those activities were rarely available. Jacob was actually a decent wood craftsman, but over the years he had built as much furniture, cabinets, and decorative jewelry boxes for his family that they needed no more.
Several months into retirement, he turned to Sarah one evening during nightly martini time (Gin, NOT Vodka), and simply sad: “I am so bored with this new lifestyle. Travel is one possible solution, but I need more direct involvement with something.” Sarah’s response was surprising to him: “Well!, my dear husband. It has taken you long enough to understand your situation. I have been waiting for your ‘awakening!’.” She paused as Jacob placed down his martini glass and picked out one of the blue cheese stuffed olives. He did so in a fashion that he knew irritated her by first slurping out the cheese before consuming the olive in one bite. “So, smarty-pants, knowing you, then you have already developed a solution for my malaise.” She sat up on the couch tucking her legs underneath her. Her long vibrant silver heather hair was over her shoulders and suddenly reminded him of the Life magazine picture of Rita Hayworth in lingerie in the same pose that was a source of very personal enjoyment for him as a teenager for several years. Sarah looked sideways at him not understanding the smile on his face. “I think Husband, we have a number of possibilities that I have already considered." He quickly responded: "I would not expected anything less of you Love. I am all ears. By the way, that is my favoirite teddy you have on." She proceeded, " Yes, i know and I have worn this purposly to get your total attention because I wish to influence you in my own way to consider what I have to say. In your terms of logic, the premise is that we need to be elsewhere according to season. We have spent the last 20 years in this environment with respectable travel to other areas, BUT only for vacation and not without any sense of permancence. You and I both enjoy so many other parts of the globe, but as such each has only been a quick 2 weeks, or so.. I am now suggesting that we establish a dual residence." He responded, "Hmmmmmmm, I think i like this ... go on."
"I have 3 ideas, one of which I have explored seriously which will be presented last." With that said the satin teddy slid of her right shoulder. He shivered. She reached out and brought his left hand to her left knee. "Ok, here is the first suggestion" as she slipped down further into the couch. "We both love Villefranche sur Mer on the French Rivera, and we can afford purchasing a condo there for our escape during the Spring through the Fall. That is heaven for both of us." Jacob started to comment, but she shut him down. "Wait dear and hear the next two. The second alternative is to purchase a ski condo in Park City for our excapes. That is such an active communiry both winter ane summer, and we would have year around excursions to enjoy." He interrupted, "I actually have thought about that recently." She paused, "But, here is my favorite." as she slid further into the couch and her teddy releasing from both shoulders. He shivered again. (He is such a hopeless male as to her bare presence.) She opened her arms to receive him, and he responded by laying aside of her in her arms. With his head on her bare chest, he could hear her heart beat and sense her lavender scent, his favorite for her. She turned her head to speak directly to him by her side. "I want us to restart your youth by purchasing your parent's cottage at Elk Creek on Lake Erie. I think we need that for you ... and for us. That is, we can restart our life by going back where you spent your youth during the summers in your pre-college years.” She paused again waiting for him to react in some fashion. He didn’t other than snuggling closer to her body. with a "Yummmm". She was not going to encourgae his romancing at this point. She wanted his true attention. She poke him on the shoulder as she often does to make a point, “IN FACT, I have already looked at the Elk Creek cottages AND your family’s cottage is actually on the market. There are several other available cottages on the Clift bordering the beach, but yours is the most affordable, but in need of some repair as I can observe from the pics. There is one called the ‘Pink Lady’ and another called ‘Sunset’, but those don’t have the quaint charm of ‘We Like IT"’ as you have reflected on over our years together.” With that he sat up on his right elbow. She indeed now had his attention given that she had already decided to take a firm and logical position with him as the primarily means to interact with his ‘analytical' mindset. “I see this opportunity as one of restarting our life together, albeit at 70+ years of age. We will still retain our winter home here in Florida, but our late spring, summer, and early fall will be as free and with a new set of friends with similar interests" She paused while she could sense his consideration. She continued "Our daughter can join us to bring her family back to the past when we took her to the cottage in their college years, but now with her possible forthcoming children as a family heritage, if you will. We so enjoyed those Saturday evenings on the cottage's front porch when we listned to Garison Kellor. We danced, sung along with the familiar tunes and listened to the Lake Wobegone stories."
She put both of her arms up like a field goal for him to commit his agreement. He sat up and looked directly at her and took another sip of the martini. The image of Rita Hayworth was still on his mind as he stared at Sarah. “I love that pose of you Dear.” Ok, he was a bit sloppy now with the martinis that he had already consumed having started before the ‘cocktail hour’ unknowingly to Sarah. He started, "Love, you have once again amazed me with your thoughts of us and moving forward. Right now, I wish only to put on some Chad Mitchell Trio music and settle back again in your arms." "Yes Jacob, you have heard my thoughts, well sort of I think, and we will continiue this most important discussiont tomorrow." With that said, Jacob said rather loudly, "Alexis, play Chad Mitchell Trio music", and sank again into her arms. Sarah was satisfied with what she had said, and the slurred understanding that Jacob had at this point in the evening.
2. The Sale
3. Making It Happen
After visiting the Marina to look at trailable sloops, Jacob returned for dinner very excited. He had found a 17ft Barnaget with 145 sq. ft. main plus both a jib and spinnacher. It also included the classic British Seagull forty-plus engine, the mark of a serious sailor in that class. OK, so the boat needed some work to replace the handrails, centerboard mounting, and the rudder/tiller. But that was not a challenge for Jacob's woodcrafting skills. In anticipation of a successgul tirp to the Marina, Sarah had prepared one of his favorite dinners consisting of Beef Bourguignon from a recipe she had found in an antique French cookbook 20 years ago in San Francisco when they took a 2- week vacation to enjoy the city and wine country, The wine she openend was a Beaulieur Vineyard (BV), Georges De Latour Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, vingage 1995, that they had purchased during that trip, and that had been reserved for special occasions. This was such an occasion. The Bourguignon was accompanied by Gratin Dauphiois made in her particular way that included strips of Gruyere between the layers of potatoes. She wanted it to be clear that this was a celebration of their mutual commitment to a complimentary divergence in their life togehter. As they sat down for dinner, Jacob was beside himself about the sloop. His family had owned the same class when he was a youth, and he reflected on that time in heeling the sloop to the gunnels in the swells of Lake Erie. In those moments he felt invincible in that fiberglass hull with a steel centerboard. He so desired that experience again.
Dinner was served and they toasted with the extraodinary wine. Sarah pursposely did not offer martinis (gin only) ahead of dinner. She wanted his FULL attention this night, With little conversation during dinner. Jacob started with, "Love, you have managed to strike a new chord in my mind. Soooo!, let us pin down the details of our trip to check out the cottage." "Well Husband, as I said last night, we will take the convertible and visit the kids on the way up to Lake Erie to check out and possibly close on the cottage. I have made reservations at the Bel Aire Motel and have even spoken to your friend Kerry there about our visit. He is setting up a dinner in town for us to meet with his family," and then with some hesitancy she continued, "I have also placed a deposit on the cottage, subjected to inspection. Granted, I did so without your permission. BUT, to be thruthful here, I wanted to take the lead on this most important divergence for us. You have made most of the major decisions for us up to this point with understaning of my desires, but I am pushing this one forward. Your likely purchase of the sloop encouraged me even more." He stood from the table and again approached her from behind, but this time taking her right arm to spin her up from her chair. Now face to face he said: "Again, you continue to amaze me!. Indeed you have identified my desires of which you were not actually part of. Amazing, absolutely amazing.... pause... So, when do we leave?. ..... Never too soon at this point my Dear." He reached down her back and pulled her into him, and then swung her around as they are comfortable when they dance to Cajun music. She well knew the move and responded accordingly as he brought her back into him with a swing to the other side. Back in his arms, they embraced each other. She pushed him away slightly and stated that she would contact the daughter for visiting her and her husbland early next week in Annapolis, and then onto Erie.
Wearing his classic Irish tweed driving cap with her not comfortable with her hair blowing wildy in the wind, they were a handsome couple with the top down movimg north on I-95. They had now seperated themselves, albeit temporariy, from the life in Florida for the last several decades. With Bruce and Segar playing, intermixed with Pink, on XM via the Bose speakers in the car, including the head supports, she threw up her arms while passing Savannah interchanges and pulled off her skarf while finisning her iced coffee that she had prepared for the beginning of the trip. It was time for a corn dog. They pulled into the gas station just North of Savannah As he filled the car with medium grade gasoline, she went in to order 2 corn dogs; their last chance heading North on the interstae. She was mustard, and he was ketdhup with no chance that the either would be shared with the other.
At this point, having made a commitment to this change, they were now open to a number of 'freedoms to which they had been constrained up to that point due to societal pressures/expectations. At one point while passing a truck on their right. she purposely did that procedure of remoing her bra without removing her blouse and throwing it in the back seat with it tucked into the back of the front seat so that the wind would not suck it out. The trucker exchanged her smile to him with 2 toots on his horn. Oh how embarassing, but then again at that point who cares?
Once in Maryland, they turned towards Annapolis to stay with their daugher and her husband for the evening. The daughter had done extraordinary well in the market and had purchased a 40 ft., ocean-rated, Caliber for their residence in the marina. While the accomodations were tight, both his daughter and her husband were very welcoming to their presence for the night. After dinner with ribeye caps grilled on the aftdeck, with several bottles of red bordeaux that the daughter had purchased, the four caught up with an ease that Jacob and Sarah had not experienced for some time in Florida with their usual crowd there. By 11 all were tired. But it was difficult to leave the intense star-studded sky with the family conversation. The boat's galley offered a bunk that would handle the parents comfortably. with the 2 kids sleeping in the V-birth.
The next morning, the two rose early to the smell of brewing coffee that the daughter had already started. This scent took Jacob back to his youth and the coffee that Mom brewed early at the cottage before starting breakfast. Breakfast often consisted of French Toast or pancakes, served with Mom's homemade syrup which is undescribable; thank goodness for Log Cabin that he was introduced to in his college years at Penn State. For getting to Lake Erie, Jacob chose a route that would take them through State College, the home of Penn State. He did so purposely for one specific reason. The Creamery at Penn State is famous for its ice cream. Being founded as an Agricultural College originally in 1855, the university has established an international reputation for the education on making ice cream. Bittersweet mint is his favorite, a Penn State orginal.
On their way to Erie, he would interrupt the music in the car occassionally to do a flash back on his days as a youth at the cottage. Sarah had heard it all before, but she gave him free reign to go through his thoughts again. She would occassionally ask questions, for which she already knew the answers, to inspire additional thoughts on his part. Indeed, he was beginning to rejuvenate his life. Sarah was simply amazed with this husband, as he was with her.
4. That's It
Arriving early evening at the Bel Aire motel in Erie, they were greeted by the hotel staff. Kerry, his childhood friend and owner had already departed for the evening but had left a note of welcome and a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot to enjoy in their suite that evening.
Having settled into their room, Jacob opened the Champagne, filled two glasses from the room and told Sarah that they were going for a tour of the Pennisula, of course with the top down under the starry night. He hadn't been there in 20 some years, but this was a necessasry step to revisiting and regaining his youth perspective. And so they did without any thought of dinner, but rather just relaxing in this divergence in their life together that Sarah had lovingly initiated.
Fifteen minutes into their drive along the Pennisula's lake front, Jacob remembered the spot on a slight knoll that was just off the main road. This was where he had taken his dates as a teenager to watch the "submarine races". He pulled off on to the road and followed it a short distance to overlooking the lake's waves reflecting the full moon on a long stream of light. He stopped the car looking out at the lake, reached for Sarah and pulled her into his right side to the extent that the discomfort of the gear shift permitted, "This is where I had my first romance My Love." She turned her head to face him directly. "Are you suggesting something Jacob?" as her hands came around to embrace him as well as possible. He laughed slightly. "Perhaps" he said with a develish grin. "However, there is a problem here. Back then I had a huge Crysler with a bench seat with no gear shift in the way ... and the back seat was huge. Neither of those are the case here. ... Soooooo, grab the blanket in the back, and I'll get the champagne and that bag, and we will take a dip in the water." With a false shock she replied, "But Jacob, are you suggesting..." He interrupted, "YES, I brought a change of shorts and sweatshirt for each of us in the bag." She laughed in a youthful way he had not heard for a long time. Within minutes they were down the embankment to the breah, and the blanket laid down and covered with their clothes. Within moments they were "frolicking", yes frolicking, in the light surf as careless teens that they transitioned to. After 10 minutes of carassessing and splashing each other, they returned to the blanket to cuddle and warm each other. Burt Lanccaster and Deborah Kerr had nothing on them in their famous beach sceene in From Here to Eternity. This was not the type of romance that he had experienced there before.
Following their romancing, they laid on the blanket to watch the amazing array of comets that were occurring that evening. They both were now exhausted physically and mentally. Without saying a word, each stood and dressed in their shorts and sweat shirts that were in the bag. They gathered their initial clothes and the blanket and stuffed them in the bag and walked hand-in-hand to the car. Unusual for him, he opened her door while throwing the bag into the back seat. As she began to take her car seat, he reached down and took her right arm pulling her up to him. His caress was long with several slow and soft kisses on her lips. She cooed softly as she gave way to his arms. Within 20 minutes they were back in their room. They both stripped and collapsed on the bed, with him pulling up the comforter as he spooned her. They were asleep in minutes.
The next morning they were awaken by the phone at 8:45. The front desk informed them that Kerry had set up a breakfast for them and to meet with he and his wife in the main lobby at 9:30. They showered, put on shorts and light t-shirts, and left for the main room of the motel.
He immediately recognized Kerry. He was still quite handsome and his wife the same beauty he remembered from 2 decades ago. After hugs and kisses on cheeks, they sat down at the table prepared for their breakfast. Kerry had arranged a fabulous breakfast of thick country bacon and Eggs Benedict for all. He also provided a plate of extraordinary sugared, yeast doughnuts from the bakery that he and Kerry had enjoyed in their youth. The memories of days past rolled out rapidly and continuously as they enjoyed their meal.
It was 11 too soon, and Jacob stated that they were to meet the real estate agent at the cottage at 11:45. With more hugs and kisses, they departed saying that they would be back by 6. Kerry said that would be perfect in that he had made reservations at Ruth Chris's steak house for the 4 of them at 7. They would meet them there.
On the drive to the cottage on Rt.5, Jacob pointed out certain landmarks to Sarah from his youth. Most notable was the Dairy Queen where many evenings were spent, including the occassional car races along an extended stretch of a 2-lane straight highway between his 467 HP Chysler and what ever might show up. "Really Jacob, you did that kind of foolish stuff? .... Boys." He did not respond. Turning off the highway for the road to the flats of Elk Creek, and then taking the dirt road to the cottages along the cliff overlooking the lake, they arrived at the cottage.
He pulled into the grassy driveway aside to the cottage seeing the real estate agent at the porch door. She looked somewhat familiar to Jacob. The agent came to their car and introduced herself to the couple as Katy Duncan. Although 40 years had passed, Katy's radiant redhair was an immediate flashback for him. However, this Irish lass didn't seem to recogonize him and therefore not their short-lived romance in their youth, including the Knoll on the penisula.
They checked out the cottage, including the shed in the back that his father had built. Inside it was the "We Like It" sign that had been hung above the porch door when his parents own it. The kitchen had been slightly modified with an electric heater in the family room that replaced the kerosene furnace that he had mastered to warm the cottage every morning.
The 3 of them took a walk along the cliff edge in front of the other cottages aligned with the beach. Looking down at the beach was all he needed to decide. He asked Katy to excuse he and his wife for seferal minutes as they continued along the cliff. Jacob turned to Sarah and embraced her. "Sarah, I want to buy the cottage for both of us. I love you so dearly for making this happen." They returned to Katy and told her of their decision. Katty said that she would set up the process to close.
They shook hands and then returned to their cars to leave. Sarah continued to the car, and Jacob walked Katy to her car. Once there, Katy turned to Jacob. "Don't think Jacob that I don't remember our time together 40 years ago. It was very dear to me." with her Irish smile. "Sarah is absolutely lovely, and I am very happy for you." She paused. " We will talk next week as I set up for the close."
That evening they met up with Kerry and his wife at Ruth Chris's. Jacob started with "My old friend, we are to be neighbors again. We have purchased the cottage." Marinis around were ordered (gin, never vodka), and more on-going remerberances continued - there seemed to be NO end to their youth's experiences. The wives started their own conversation regarding remodeling, etc. ALL were extremely joyful. Jacob and Sarah left early the next morning. It was a 15 hour drive to their Florida home.
5. The Cycle Continues
It took 3 weeks for Jacob and Sarah to reshuffle their life in Florida and make the transition to the cottage for the summer. This included getting a reinforced trailor hitch for the convertible to pull the sailboat that Jacob had purchased. He had made the necessary repairs to the sloop that he named "New Life" on the both sides of the bow. Sarah was responsible for determing the bare kitchen and bedding essentials to be hauled in the sloop given no capacity in the convertible when the top was down, including blankets, comforter, sous vide, electric skilllet and primary utensils. Kerry had offered to outfit the cottage with basic furniture for the bedroom and living room of which he had plenty from the Bel Aire. Jacob gathered a set of tools that he expected would be necessary over the summer. He purposely tested the Seagull engine to be sure it would be functional, and it was. These engines never fail if properly handled.
Unknown to Jacob, Sarah had ordered a futon for the screened porch for which Kerry ensured would be there when they arrived. Of the most dear memories that Jacob had shared with Sarah was that of sleeping on the porch at night with the windows open, especially during rain storms and the sound of the surf on the beach.
They drove directly to the cottage without any difficulties to find a 6 pack of Rolling Rock on the doorsteps to the kitchen door. He knew it was from Katty, of course - the favorite beer of their teenage years. When they entered the cottage, they were both amazed at what Kerry had provided for them as to furnishings. The 6 ft, wooden kitchen table even had a red/white patched tablecloth as with his youth. It did not take long to unpack. And, it did not take long for Jacob to check out the porch and to open the line of windows there. Sarah followed him and immediately pulled him down onto the futon. "I knew you would really like this for tonight, my husband. And there is storm heading this way very soon, as I can see coming from the West." Having stopped for some fast food several hours previously, she suggested that she make up the futon and that they go to bed for starting the transition the next day. They were both tired from the long drive, and they didn't bother to change but went into a cuddle with the bedding wrapped loosely around them. This time she spooned him. Jacob was well on his way to being rejuvenated.
There was much to do the next day as to settling in, including groceries, setting up the kitchen, and for Jacob to launch the boat into the slip, where again Kerry had set up with the owner of the waterway that led to the lake. It would be several days until the lake had calmed to the point that Jacob was comfortable in taking "New Life" out for its trial run by himself. He needed the Seagull to exit the slip and proceed through the channel into the lake. The sloop's rigging was quite familar to him, and he quickly adapted to handling the tiller as well as the main sheets simultaneously. Granted his first 'come about' was a bit sloppy as he addressed the jib's sheet having set the main sail in tight. But, it only took that inital effort to bring him back to his youth. The wind had kicked up once he was off shore, and the sloop healed handsomely. Indeed, with the centerboard fully down, he was comfortable that he was in total control.
Sarah was on the cliff ouside of the cottage watching Jacob's manuevers. Not a sailor herself, she was not totally at ease as she watched the gunnels of New Life nearly submerging. After an hour, Jacob sailed to the entrance of the channel, took down the main and jib, and started the Seagull to come into the slip. Seeing this, Sarah grabbed 2 chilled Rolling Rocks and headed down the road to the slip to greet him. The smile on Jacob's face along with his enthusiam as he tied up was all of the reward that Sarah required for her efforts up until point. The summer would proceed with so many excursions, both on the sloop with Sarah learning to handle the jib sheets, as well as many walks along the lakeshore and into the woods behind the cottage to pick blackberries for her pies. The meals that were prepared by both during that period included fresh perch fried in cornmeal and oil, fresh 'salt and butter' corn common in the area, as well as entertainment in Erie with Kerry and his wife.
In mid-August, the two decided to head back to Florida. Jacob well knew what had to be done to secure the cottage for winter, including shutting off the spring that provided water to the cottage. They had their final meal with Kerry and his wife, again at Ruth Chris. Jacob decided to take New Life back with them. Sailing was back into his life and provide a spark in his life that had not existed for too many years since when he retired. Arguably, most important, the two now had a new level of partnership in their life together. New Life would be taking them together on new experiences in Florida when they placed the sloop in a marina with a totally dfifferent group of friends than those that they lost in the corporate world when he retired. They really needed such associations that sparked them for the most of their remaining lives.
The cottage would be their summer escape for a number of years. For the next decade, their daughter and her forthcoming family of 3 children would become part of their summer experience. Granted, sailing is not-the-all-to-end-all of experiences, but New Life and the cottage brought such to Jacob and Sarah, as well an extended family experience with their daughter and her children. The cottage would continue to be a family possession for generations to come.