Elaine Fraser | 98five blogger
Postcard from April 29
I’m in Onset, an historic Victorian waterfront community which has preserved most of the original storefronts and cottages.
The Victorian charm of the era is evident in the many period homes here, including the one I am staying in. It’s also only two miles from the Cape Cod Canal.
It’s a summer town, so it’s a little quiet right now as spring rains and grey skies don’t invite beachgoers. However, summer is approaching and, after Memorial Day on May 9, the town is sure to fire up.
I’m here to write and I’ve formed a little routine that helps keep my mind clear and the words flowing. I’m alone in a huge home built in 1900. It’s decorated in a beachy style and it’s light and airy. The perfect place for a retreat.
Being alone has some challenges though.
When I’m busy, I forget that no one else is there and I disappear into the world of my novel. But, when I pop my head up and it’s time for lunch, I prepare food and eat alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love alone time, but sometimes it’s nice to have a chat with someone.
On my first afternoon, I took a walk around the waterfront. As is my custom at home, I called out hello to others. Most people looked at me as if I were some sort of crazy person and kept walking or gave me a half-smile.
The dog people are the best. Well, the dog people who are also ‘people’ people. You can pick them a mile off and their dogs pick it up too. The dogs strain towards you, hoping for a pat or hug. This opens a short conversation. ‘It’s cold out today.’ ‘What’s your dog’s name?’ ‘I have a golden retriever at home.’ ‘Thanks for the pat and the hug.’
The next day, I decided to go to a stretch class on the main street in the village. I’d seen the shopfront and it looked pretty with window boxes of spring blooms out front.
I walked in and a six-foot, five-inch bald guy with a ‘Let’s Get Twisted’ t-shirt stood up to greet me.
His stomach greeted me first and I raised my eyes to his twinkling blue ones. ‘I’m here for the class,’ I say, thinking he might work here or also be waiting for the class. ‘Hi, I’m Carl. I’m teaching the class today.’ ‘Great,’ I reply. ‘You’re the only one here so far, so it’ll just be you and me.’
My eyes may have betrayed a flicker of uncertainty because he immediately tells me, ‘It’s okay. I’m gay. So you’re safe.’ ‘Great.’
My words are limited. I’m out of my comfort zone in an unfamiliar town, in a different country. I haven’t been to a class like this for a couple of years and I’m being invited into a downstairs studio with a man I don’t know. I’m okay that he’s a man and that he’s gay, it’s just that I’m feeling like a fish out of water here and I haven’t found my place yet.
We chat for about 10 minutes as we prepare for the class. He used to teach elementary school, write for a music magazine, decorates cakes and teaches. He’s 61, has had shoulder surgery and has a dodgy knee.
I give him a concise bio in return. I’m here from Australia, I used to be a high school teacher, I’m an author and I’m in town for the week. I have a dodgy shoulder. We begin the class and chat all the way through — after all, it’s just the two of us.
Our respective injuries and limitations don’t matter in this space. We complete our moves as best we can and Carl guides me through some meditation moments as we finish the class. The room is filled with peace, gentleness, love and grace. We walk upstairs, back into the reception area and shake hands. He hands me his card and says I can call him if I need a lift or anything else while I’m here.
And just like that, I made a friend.
I’ve been going back every day since. Other staff have also blessed me this week: Rachel who teaches and participates in the classes shared her own journey, and her water, with me. Krysta gave me one of the best massages I’ve ever had. She intuitively knew where my areas of tension and pain were and freed them up. Beth (the owner) teaches with kindness and even gave me a neck adjustment at the end of each class I took with her. A fellow student, Elaine, gave me her phone number and offered to take me to the station when I leave on Sunday. (And she’s willing to miss church to do it.)
These people were gifts from God to me this week.
This little studio and spa, in a small village in Massachusetts has been my touchstone.
In the midst of struggling with my novel, feeling alone and needing some sense of community while I’m travelling, I found this safe space.
Sometimes, God leads you into unexpected places. I’ve met people who I connected with immediately, just when I needed it the most. When you travel alone, you have to be open to accept the leading, be brave enough to open that door and enter in.
Thanks for following me on my Write around the world journey.
You can also follow photographer and friend of 98five Steve Fraser’s Thirst World Adventures here.
Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at 10 years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write. In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs, and is best known for her non-fiction work: Beautiful: beauty tips for the soul and Too Beautiful: more beauty tips for the soul. “I try to write books that are honest, concerned with real lives and real issues with a spiritual edge. My books are contemporary, don’t always have the perfect ending, but always have hope.” When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, Elaine can be found in the Perth Hills sitting in her library — writing, reading, mentoring writers and hugging her golden retriever, Bear. elainefraser.co | Follow Elaine on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter