Thursday, August 18, 2011

History, Relaxation and Enchanting Inns

"It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit."~ Antoine Rivarol

The very warm and welcoming innkeeper showed me around the illustrious Victorian Tudor Inn, gave me my one and only key to my room … I haven’t seen him since. He wasn't feeling very well, so I assumed he went to lay down, but I’ve yet to hear a single soul all night. I realize I'm the only one staying in the Inn tonight. Every room is lavishly decorated with ornate Victorian décor, ranging from intricately carved chair legs to flowers, crimson red accent pillows, black and white stills and lace. When I first arrived, Richard, the innkeeper, told me I was welcome to every main room on the first floor, to the kitchen as though it were my own and welcome to the array of wine choices.

I'd just come from Historic Lyme Village, which I will write about in a separate entry. My experience at this Inn seems to demand my current attention. So, here I sit, in what I would imagine was the formal sitting room or parlor of the home in its infancy with a glass of white wine next to me and the smell of dark, antiquated wood tickling my nose. I could just imagine the women back then, donning their richly colored, elegant dresses and lace gloves as they sat upright in their chairs delving into the latest town gossip.

The wine bottles in the kitchen are all half or three quarters empty, teasing in their phantom traces of life. Everything around me seems to gravitate to my center, even the creaks of this enchanting home. My imagination may be bursting at the seams, overcoming logic in a way it hasn't in years. I feel strange sitting in this room, alone, staring at the dark burgundy walls, plush carpets and low hanging chandelier in the dining room next to me. I feel as though I’m in between worlds.

The innkeeper upgraded my room as well, giving me the “Nautica Suite” with a gorgeous high-rise, four-post canopy bed and large bathroom with a jacuzzi framed by candles. I loved everything about it, including the soft ruby carpet and various shades of blue Victorian print on the canopy, bed, accent pillows and chairs. And the room had its quirks, like a door I keep fiddling with because it falls slightly ajar every time I enter or leave unless I lock it into place.

I also decided it was high time for a professional massage, so I treated myself to one as well. She came right to room and dug into pockets of tension I didn’t even realize existed. And before I was drawn to my keyboard and this parlor, I immersed myself into steaming hot water and let it drive away any remaining tension I had left today. As Sylvia Plath once said: "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."

And as the candlelight flickered off the rising steam and lavender-hued backdrop of the walls surrounding me, I couldn’t help but smile as I told myself I was here, in this place I decided to come to on a whim, and down the road, whenever I feel lost again, I can remember this moment and how at ease I felt. I can remember the traces of a smile pulling at the corners of my mouth. I can recall what it felt like to just breathe …

So, as I sat in the front room, not able to access wireless and having spotty cell phone reception, I decide to take the hint and remain unplugged for the night. I'd also decided to continue following that inner voice and ventured outside on the front porch swing. As I rocked slowly back and forth, the metronome-like creek of the swing beneath me, I watched people and cars pass by, feeling as though I sat behind a sheet of glass, a translucent vale, unable to reach out or speak to them, somehow tied to this house and another time. I could practically feel its long-stemmed fingers softly tug at the outer edges of my conscious.  

I got up and walked down and around the house. When I returned, I suddenly heard a sharp, insistent “meow” next to me, causing me to jump a bit and look down to find a gray cat with black stripes and stark green eyes looking at me with both uncertain caution and immense familiarity.
She feverishly cried and rubbed against me as though both lost and found at the same time. I knelt down as she circled me and felt her follow me easily into the dark as I descened the concrete stone steps to the side of the house and gazed up at my room’s lit windows. I quickly realized not a single other room’s windows were lit, not even the innkeeper’s. A chill rolled down my spine as my new feline companion softly murmured next to my leg. I turned back around to return to the porch and as I began my ascent, I turned back to look for her, but all I found were shadows … she was gone.

I went back inside the house, feeling it rumble with every passing truck, its tremble sliced right through me. Eventually, sleep pulled at my eyelids, causing me to finally give in. After all, I’d been given much more than I’d hoped for tonight, despite a furrowed mind and struggling heart. I’d been given a glimpse of past chapters of history and allowed them to embrace me, fill me, hauntingly inspire me. In truth, where I’d been searching for balance, I’ve found much more … I’ve found a missing puzzle piece I didn’t even realize was lost.

And as I sank into the feather topped bed and fluffy pillows, feeling sleep begin to envelope me, I heard a jingling at my door. When I checked, thinking maybe the innkeeper finally received my two earlier phone calls about accessing wireless, I opened the door to no one. Perplexed, a little scared and equally fascinated, I returned to bed and just as sleep began to reclaim me once more, I heard that same soft jingling, but this time, I just smiled and gave in to my dreams. 

This morning, I woke up, hazy, as though still unconscious. Strange how the sunlight pouring through my windows made me feel as though the previous evening had just been some hauntingly beautiful dream. I open my door and immediately smelled bacon and eggs. Richard was downstairs making French toast with bacon and a bowl of fruit for me. He apologized for having virtually conked out from medicine his doctor gave him yesterday and missing my calls. I tell him it's OK. Something tells me it was supposed to be that way. He tells me about other residents "strange" experiences here as well as the home's history.

It was built in 1908 and owned by The Greenslades, which were prominent business and civic leaders and board members of the city's First National Bank. It was built onto a carriage house that was originally in this location, but has since been moved to Historic Lyme Village for display as a "Cobbler's House." One of the home's previous owners also owned a funeral home nearby. Richard said oftentimes, if anyone does have an odd experience, it's been very subtle, like a piece of jewelry or some other item being moved or a knock at the door. I told him about the jingling ... he shook his head and nervously laughed before we moved onto a new topic. He suggests today's historic visit should be The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont. This is the second person who has mentioned it, so I've decided that's where I'm going.

And as I made my way back up to my room, unlocked my door and shut it behind me, I stopped, turned around and stared at the door knob.

This time, it closed just fine.

~ C ~

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