Turn Back the Waves of Time

Written By: Claire Michaels

TURNING BACK THE WAVES OF TIME by Claire Michaels Coming here was like going back in a time machine for me. Catching a whiff of the first cool bite of evening mid-August air had smacked me in the face with reality. Packing 36 hours of work into every 24 for the last three years had taken its toll. I knew that I could not allow another summer season to pass me by. Just making the reservation on the phone had lifted some of my mental and physical weariness. My family had spent many summer weekends here when I was a child compliments of my Grandpa Ralph. He would reserve a block of rooms each year for his children and grandchildren to vacation together. The restaurant of the hotel hung over the water giving you the feeling of being on a ship at sea. My father and I would pretend that we were the Captain and first mate on an imaginative ship exploring the deep blue sea as we dined on the best sea food I have ever tasted. The billowing memories of the scent of fresh sea salt, each room’s perfect view of the majestic sunset dropping over the endless sea, dad teaching us to fly fish, and shore recreation with our cousins until we were surrounded by the in-coming evening tide had beckoned me to return promising a respite from my overloaded schedule. It wasn’t easy convincing my work-a-holic husband to take a few days off to join me for an extended relaxing weekend. Scott knew how much I missed my dad since he passed so he was acquiescent to my request. Now here we were at the Soundview Inn in Greenport. Unfortunately we were not off to a great start. The windows in our room were frosted from sand blast depriving me of the peaceful view of the ocean. The sparkling refreshing pool which I had been promised while making my reservation was closed for renovations, and now I was about to make my third trip to the office with a complaint. Here I was butt naked and full of sand from my afternoon ocean swim and there was no running water in our bathroom shower. I grabbed my robe and barely flung it around me when I bolted out the hotel room door. “Excuse me!” I started not even waiting to be acknowledged, “Our shower is not even working!” The little white haired man shuffled toward me. He was dressed in a dark colored cardigan sweater with a silk paisley printed scarf around his neck neatly tucked into the v of the sweater. He wore rather thick bifocals that enlarged his eyes when he looked up. I could tell he was thinking that I was one of those bad luck customers from hell. “Our apologies, we’ll have to move you to another room,” he managed to stifle some of his annoyance, “you can move your things to the only other available room we have upstairs on the second floor.” That was it! I had been pushed over the edge. I was not interested in re-packing. “I do not want a room upstairs. I just want running water!” I exclaimed now slightly raising my voice. “No can do, my repair guy won’t be back until Monday. Upstairs is the best I can do. Take it or leave it, “ he was emphatic. His obvious attitude was more than I could bare. “Then we are leaving!” I touted back at him. “I’ll have to charge you a day rate then for the room since you have already used it,” he insisted. Many foul names ran through my head, but since I considered myself a woman of etiquette I forced myself to refrain, “You will do no such thing! First my room has no view of ocean, then your pool is closed when I was told it would be open, and now I can’t take a shower to get the sand out of the butt!” I argued. “Mam’ I have to have the room cleaned since you have used it and for that your credit card on file with incur a day rate of $87,” He turned and shuffled back into the office. Realizing I was getting no where I burst out of the office in tears. “We’re leaving!” I cried to Scott when I bolted into the room. I told him what happened. He suggested that we try another hotel not willing to give up on our little respite. I had come out here weary beyond words and all I wanted was a few days of peace and quiet. Now I felt as if I would have to check into the nearest hospital psyche ward to get it. I remember that there was a Sunset Motel not too far down the road. Accommodations were not as nice. There was no pool but we would still be on the ocean and maybe even actually have a view of it from our room. Scott helped me pack up our things and drive down the road. There it was, a quaint bright yellow hotel now three stories higher than I had remembered it from my childhood. I tried to compose myself after my emotional upset in the Soundview office before I walked into a simple but lovely office foyer to inquire about availability. Behind the desk was a petite older woman with white hair wearing a dark cardigan sweater and a paisley silk scarf daintily wrapped around her neck and tucked into the v in the sweater. She lifted her head to greet us with a sweet smile and I could not help but notice the familiarity of the thick bifocals that enlarged her eyes as she gazed up at us. “May I help you?” she asked in such a motherly tone. I opened my mouth to ask for a room and tears came running down my cheeks. “Why what’s the matter dear?” she inquired handing me a tissue. Sobbing I began to tell her in detail all of the horrible events that had just taken place during the last several stress-filled hours. I couldn’t help myself but to include how tired I was and desperately needed a break from our hectic and demanding schedule. She kept nodding her head as I spoke and interjecting, “He said that!” “He did what?” “Oh you poor dear!” Just sharing my story with a compassionate soul helped lift the burden somewhat. She took a long pause and said, “I think I will be able to help you. Just one moment.” She turned and shuffled to a old telephone sitting on the counter behind her picking up the receiver and dialed a number. “Jack it’s Donna,” she sounded with a strong matriarch voice, “I have a young woman here who says that she was just over at your venue…” She proceeded to ask him if he had taken his medication that morning, chided him for his behavior, and reminded him it was time to retire. As I absorbed the conversation, it dawned on me that she was speaking to her husband. A flash back sparked through my mind of a beautiful happy couple that would always greet all of their guest at the Soundview Inn when I was a child. They would make rounds during dinner hours at the restaurant making small talk and inquiring if everything was satisfactory. I remembered them joking with my Grandfather and hugging my parents. When had they purchased the Sunset Motel also? Donna got off the phone to address me, “He won’t give you anymore trouble dear. Your day charge will be reversed and he sends his sincere apologies for any inconvenience. Tonight you will be our guests at the Soundview Inn Restaurant and I am going to give you our best suite upstairs which has a lovely view of the water for the same price as our regular rooms. How does that sound?” I wanted to reach across the desk and hug her. She was smiling from ear to ear. “That sounds wonderful… thank you… thank you so much!” I voiced wiping my cheeks. Scott and I got the key to our room. It was a full efficiency one bedroom apartment with a spectacular view of the ocean. I was able to shower, dress, and relax before going down the street to an amazing complimentary lobster dinner. During our meal the white haired man came to our table. “How are you finding everything?” he asked. “Very lovely,” I replied with a smile of relief. “I haven’t been feeling myself lately,” he added, “please come back after all of our renovations are completed.” I knew this was his way of expressing his apology for what happened. As he moved on to the next table a wave of nostalgia came over me. I was a peppy five year old first mate having dinner with her Captain on our imaginative ship at sea.