I Remember... My Visit to Hull
I’m heading back to Portland with Connor and Maddie after a week-long visit with my mom. She lives in Hull, MA, a small beach town south of Boston, next to the town where I grew up.
I’m sitting on her balcony where I can see a sliver of the bay, dotted with small sailboats. I hear birds singing to my left, a neighbor below me talks about his air conditioner – (it’s working), and a motor boat just shot across the water. Now there’s a seagull soaring and squawking over my head.
Below, I used the prompt “I remember…” to recall and feel into experiences of the week. It’s amazing how well this prompt works to pull forward the deeply felt and sensed moments – the embodiedmoments.
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I remember feeling the humidity in the air as I stepped outside baggage claim at Logan airport – and full-on giddiness when I connected with Connor and Maddie.
I remember mom standing outside her condo door and beaming her smile down the hall at us as we stepped off the elevator. I remember thinking how comforting and joyful she is, and then I had flashes of Grandma Judy, far more anxious and high-strung, but the way she lit up when she saw her grandkids – I felt it deeply as a girl. In that moment, I felt like a grandchild, adult child, and mother, all at once.
I remember us eating and talking loudly at the kitchen table, though it was late, as mom fussed with the food and dishes. “Sit down, mom – join us!”
I remember watching the news in bed with mom that first night, and the next morning, and day after day, the news and the news and the news and the news, filled with more and more dread and terror – and the heaviness in my heart -- and the Red Sox games all week – and the announcer with the thick Boston accent that made the world feel safer and sweeter, and normal, somehow. Though thick Boston accents also unsettle me – and I remember feeling home back east, and not home, and home in my country, and not home.
I remember Maddie and I driving Connor to UConn for soccer camp in the pouring rain. Not Portland rain, but cat and dog rain. I remember driving down main street in Hingham, and my body contracting at all the American flags adorning colonial homes and lawns for the 4thof July. I remember how “off” it all felt, the country preparing to celebrate its independence and freedom, while so many freedoms are slipping away.
I remember driving past my high-school boyfriend’s house on Main Street and looking, as I always do, up to the right, to his bedroom window. “I spent lots of time at that house,” I told Maddie, remembering my sweet-natured artist/musician beau and his quirky family.
I remember feeling bad for Connor when we dropped him at the dorms. The 2 beds and 2 desks felt more like a jail cell than a college dorm. My UMass dorm was cinder-blocked and as basic as they get, but this room felt minuscule for 2 large boys.
I remember Maddie playing DJ on the way home from CT and us singing, though the reception was mostly crackly. But the scenery home on the back roads was what I wanted her to see. New England.
I remember sitting on the beach with Mom and Maddie, hit by a wave of guilt thinking of Connor in that dorm room with no fan in the heatwave. His roommate from Florida didn’t bring a fan, either. I texted him to get to a store after dinner and buy one. “No time,” he texted. Plus, they weren’t allowed off campus. I called the campus book store. No fans. “Maddie, I need to drive back to Connecticut to get a fan to Connor and his roommate.” “I’ll go, too!” she said, in a flash. More singing to a scratchy radio on the 2-hour drive. And more barns and fences and streams and church steeples and some cows. And more iced coffee at Dog Lane Café, our official UConn spot.
I remember Maddie and I returning to Hull and playing lots of double solitaire – and winning -- TWICE.
I remember the pang I felt seeing Connor’s limp when we picked him up -- a kick in the shin in the morning game. I remember him laying down in the back seat and sharing with us the list of university and Ivy coaches who watched him play and want to recruit him in the fall. I felt so happy for him. I remember how soon after, I lost it – yelled and swore -- when after driving for 20 minutes he said he forgot to return his room key and retrieve the $110 key deposit, as well as the spending money they held for safe keeping. I remember turning the car around and heading back to UConn, frustrated we’d be late for lunch in Providence with Adrienne and Brook, and after the anger, feeling like a jerk and apologizing. I remember hearing the words “this is why we meditate” from Laure’s latest podcast interview.
I remember on the drive to lunch talking about Adrienne: a friend since kindergarten, the only other girl in our religious and Hebrew school classes with 5 or 6 boys (so 8 Jewish kids in my high-school class of nearly 400!), Saturday-night sleepovers at her house watching Solid Gold, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Saturday Night Live, and how cool her current position sounds overseeing pre-college programs at Brown.
I remember lobster rolls at Jake’s, fried clams at Tony’s Clam Shop, soft serve at JJs Dairy Hut, and bagels and lox at my mom’s, where she reigns as a classic Jewish grandmother, a Bubbe, asking us endlessly if we’d like more to eat.
I remember showing the kids Wanders Drive, and all the families and childhood friends who lived in each house. When we approached 31 Wanders Drive, I was stunned. They cut down ALL the trees in the front to let in the light. And built an addition off the living room. I wanted to get out and see the backyard and garden (did they keep the garden?) but we sat in the car and I felt the surreal-ness of the moment -- and a flood of memories and feelings – and my kids eyes on me as I shared for a few minutes before driving away. And 30 years later, the beauty of my home and neighborhood, and the Norman Rockwell feel of my town, still stirs in me a powerful mix of awe and melancholy.
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