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After Work: Return To The Island

...But weíre back. Ever-Enthusiastic Husband and I. Weíre in a tiny rental cottage near the islandís one hardware store. Itís fine if you need to pick up half a pound of roofing nails.

Itís a small island, only twelve miles long and about a mile and a half wide. It often wears a grey cloak of fog but when the sun blasts through, the water sparkles and the grass is almost phosphorescent...

Dona Gibbs has loved the island for years and years... But can such a love last for a lifetime?

For more of Dona's glorious words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

ďMom, weíve finished golf and weíre hungry. Can you bring our lunch now?Ē the boy pleaded into the club porch phone. His younger brother did a little bounce and shuffle beside him.

When youíre ten or so, lunch can be your biggest concern out here on this little island, one of those eastern seaboard enclaves of privilege. Overhearing that call, Iím transported back to summer long ago.

We have returned to the island. Iím not exactly sure why

I left it several summers ago and thought Iíd never come back.

Oh, Iíd see the friends we made. On the mainland. Iíd sort through the photos of summers past. On the mainland.

But weíre back. Ever-Enthusiastic Husband and I. Weíre in a tiny rental cottage near the islandís one hardware store. Itís fine if you need to pick up half a pound of roofing nails.

Itís a small island, only twelve miles long and about a mile and a half wide. It often wears a grey cloak of fog but when the sun blasts through, the water sparkles and the grass is almost phosphorescent.

For children itís a paradise. Itís freedom, glorious freedom. Sure, there are hectic schedules with swimming lessons, tennis lessons. But for many kids these are only a bike ride away. No suburban car-pools with four kids smooshed into a back seat while the air grows stale with peanut-butter breath.

For a city-bound kid this kind of freedom is heady, indeed. No mom clutching you by one hand while flagging down a taxi with the other. Just you and the open road. With a dollar in your pocket. Or an open account at the snack bar. And one really cool buddy who laughs at all your jokes, the summer couldnít be more magical. That is, if youíre under eleven.

I loved the island when our son was eleven. I remember an evening when he and two other eleven-year-olds ran through the fog, dashing to the edge of the cliff overlooking the water where they turned into gray swirls. Back and forth they raced, laughing at some secret something only they were privy to and quite likely only they would find funny. Probably a joke about a parrot. (And if you donít know that reference youíve never been the parent of an eleven-year-old.)

I loved the island when my son was twelve and he and my Ever Enthusiastic Husband sailed together, learning the tides and currents.

I loved the island when our son was thirteen. He then discovered the wonderful, amazing world of the opposite sex. The girls of summer were long-limbed, tanned and seemed vastly more sophisticated than schoolmates at the local country day school. After all they came from another country day school or even, Oh gosh, from New York City.

I loved the island when my son was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and onward. Even though he had his heart bruised, not broken, on this glacial shoreline. And I cringed when he himself stomped on a heart.

I loved the island when he brought friends from college. They gathered around the table and consumed lobster after lobster. Spaghetti sauce was mopped up by loaves of garlic bread. I looked forward to the laughter and tolerated the wet towels.

ďIs this a fraternity house?Ē a visitor asked me.

In a way it was.

I loved the island when he bought Robin here. Robin was to become his wife. He proposed to her on the island at a summerís end on the crescent-shaped beach on a night so dark she couldnít see the ring he slipped on her finger.

And I loved the island when they brought their friends. We played charades and other silly games. They went out dancing. We stayed behind, loving the time we had spent with them.

Then our sonís life took him away to London and a different life. He Ďs no longer here on this little island.

Oh yes, you can find his name on a sailing trophy in the tiny yacht club. And people ask about him. But he isnít here.

And my heart isnít either.

.

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