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The Window Seat
Another summer, another weekend spent at the family cottage. I sat drinking my morning orange juice, watching the kids playing on the beach and the families setting up their towels and umbrellas for a long day of relaxation. This wasn't the first time I had done this. This had become a routine since the first summer I had spent here. This was my thinking place, where I reflected on my life. Today that reflection brought me back to that first morning, seven years ago.
“I don't understand why I have to leave my life just to help you fix up some run down house.”
“Suzanne Marie if you do not get your butt into the car now you will have a miserable summer of weeding instead of decorating,” snapped by my mother. Her of all people would have the brilliant idea of buying an abandon beach house on the coast to be her project for the summer. Ever since her and my dad split she had been looking for ways to get her mind off of it but she didn't have to drag me into this little adventure with her. I had tried to pull the 'I'm 18, I can do what I want' excuse off but my mom was not having it. Then I tried to get her to let me stay with one of my friends. I was completely fine with spending my summer at home with my friend Carrie. She had offered since she could tell no part of me desired to leave but when she saw how persistent my mother was she just tried to make it sound like I was lucky. She said things like, “I'm jealous you get to spend your whole summer in the sun on a beach,” and ”do you know how much more fun somewhere new is going to be than this old place?” All I was thinking the whole time was that she got to spend our last summer before college with all of our friends and I got to go somewhere with my mom. Not the fun I was hoping to have.
I packed the last of my bags without saying a word. My only saving grace was that I got to take my Newfoundland, Monster; the only thing I really got to bring that reminded me of home. Everything else seemed completely pointless since I wasn't home to enjoy it. I just sat in the passenger seat, constantly looking back to see if Monster was okay, until I finally fell asleep. I woke up to my mother's voice saying in her annoying happiness, “we're here sweetheart.” I was astounded by what I saw.
This wasn't the crappy shack I had envisioned. It was a beautiful, pale yellow house with white shutters. A white washed porch ran around the whole house and it had a huge green, fenced-in yard, perfect for Monster. The most amazing thing though was the view of the sun coming up over the water behind the house. I had never seen anything like that were I live. I was taken back for a second but not sold on the idea of spending my summer here.
“So, what do you think? It's pretty nice outside but there's a lot of work to do inside. I think we can get it done this summer though. Do you like it?” my mother asked.
I loved it but I wasn't going to tell her that. “I like the color,” was all I could say to try to satisfy her and that's all I needed because that sent her off on a rant about all the things we “got” to do this summer. I didn't listen. I put got the bags about of the suburban as fast as I could and took Monster out so he could run around.
As I leaned up against the garage, watching Monster chase a terrified squirrel, my blank stare was interrupted by my mother's voice, “want some orange juice? I got some especially for you. I know how much you love it.”
“Sure I guess.” With a smile, she tossed me the plastic container.
“Um, I'm going to take Monster out back,” I said and before she could answer I was already on the porch heading toward the beach side of the house. I observed the gorgeous full length windows that spread across the back of the house and the wooden steps that led swiftly down the dune the house was set on. As I sat in a old wooden beach chair all I could think was how beautiful this place really was. My mom had chosen a great house but I would never let her know that. I still needed her to know I was miserable even though I could get used to this view, maybe.
One thing I would definitely miss was the craziness of downtown. This was so calm. Nothing back home was calm. I was always going somewhere to do something with my friends but here I just sat, thinking. It was relaxing but weird. Just as I thought that some people started coming out from their houses. All the little kids sprinted to the water with their floaties on to dip their toes in. Their parents jogged after them holding all the towels and snacks yelling at the kids to put on their sun screen. Just as I was thinking that it would be nice for a couple teenagers to show up so maybe I could at least think about finding someone to hangout with this summer, a guy who looked kind of my age ran up the beach. I gawked at him thinking of how nice it would be to find a friend, and he saw me. Our eyes met for a half second and I looked away completely embarrassed. I quickly called to Monster to come and acted like I had to go inside. I didn't look back but part of me was hoping he was still looking at me.
“You want some grilled cheese, sweetie?” my mom asked. I could tell she was still trying to warm me up to this place. Little did she know I had fallen in love with the house but the idea of spending the summer alone I wasn't so giddy about. I looked around at the cottage style house as my mother fiddled with the stove. As beautiful as the house looked on the outside the inside was a piece of work. The walls all needed paint, the windows needed new trim, and furniture would probably be good to have.
“Oh never mind,” my mom's voice startled me. “I can't get the stove to work. I'll just have to put that on the list.” Oh no she has a list, I thought to myself. “Oh by the way, the first thing we have to do is go check out all the local furniture and appliance stores. We need to get some good furniture picked out so we can paint the walls the right color. I want this house to look perfect.” By now I figured she was more talking to herself than me so I decided to get Monster some food before we left to go check things off the list.
I hadn't really realized how small of a town we were in until we got to the grocery store. We got stared at like we were aliens or something. Sure no one knew who we were but all this staring was ridiculous. I probably didn't look too happy either which didn't help the whole first impression thing. I just shook off the weirdness and started grabbing things for my mom. First cheese, milk, chocolate milk (even though it wasn't on the list), orange juice, chips... I had been carrying this all in my arms which wasn't the best idea. I went to grab a bag of Cheetos when everything fell from my hands. Perfect. I just stared at the food on the ground because I couldn't believe that happened. As I picked up the groceries thinking that this day couldn't get any worse, I saw him again. The boy from the beach. He was walking past the isle I was in, laughing. What gave him the right to laugh at me. He didn't know me. I thought about saying something to him but I couldn't get past my embarrassment.
My mother must have thought I was still upset with her because she tried to make small talk. “So what do you think Monster thinks of the house,” she used as an ice breaker.
“Well he's a dog and dogs like grass and water. I think he likes it just fine.” My anger wasn't really directed at her anymore. I was more upset with myself. For some reason I couldn't get over how I acted around that boy. I didn't even know him why was I getting so worked up.
“Oh well he's never been to the ocean. You should take him down there tonight so he can check it out. I'll go with you if you want,” she offered. I felt bad that she thought I was mad at her so I spoke up.
“Yeah. Maybe I'll do that.”
We kept silent until we got back to the house. Some how the welcoming look of a beautiful beach house with Monster waiting at the front gate made this seem like home. As soon as I thought that I snapped my mind back to the fact that this wasn't home. It would never be.
“Come on Monster. Wanna go to the beach?” I said in one of those annoying voices that always made dogs seem more excited. “Are you coming mom?”
“No. I have a lot of work to do. And I wanted to start on some kind of dinner.”
“The stoves broken.”
“Oh yeah,” she clearly hadn't thought dinner out. “well, then I should probably go get some take out, shouldn't I. I thought I saw a cute pizza shack in town. Maybe well get that for dinner.” Great, I had to go to town again. That was the last thing I wanted to do right now. Then, as if she read my mind, my mom said, “I don't need your help so just go ahead and stay here. Monster's been alone all day. He needs some company.”
I was not about to protest. “Okay. I'll see you in a little bit.”
When the suburban was out of site I grabbed Monster and headed out to the back porch. This had become my favorite spot in the house. I sat in the old beach chair and stared at the ocean until I realized I didn't have a dog next to me. My eyes moved frantically looking for Monster. That big of a dog should not be running loose anywhere. As soon as I got up I saw he was next to someone. As I ran closer I recognized the person's face. It was the boy.
Great. Now I actually had to talk to him. I quickly ran up and grabbed Monster trying to not make eye contact. “Sorry. I wasn't paying attention and he got away.”
“Oh no problem. He's a nice dog,” he said with a smile smeared across his face.
It seemed as if he was still laughing about what he had witnessed in the grocery store but I tried to put that out of my mind and just said, “most of the time.”
As I started back to the stairs I heard a voice following me, “I'm Tyler, by the way.” I had to turn around to realize he was talking to me.
“Oh. Um, I'm Suzanne.” I said trying to look like I was in a rush to get back but Monster was pulling me towards Tyler.
“No. Just Suzanne. No one calls me Suzie.”
“Well I'm going to.” There seemed to be no way of talking him out of it so I just let that go. There was no way I talk to him again so why not just let him think he was special for a little while.
“Okay. Well I have to get going. Come on Monster.”
“I'll walk with you. I'm going that way anyways.” I reluctantly slowed down to allow him to catch up. “So did you get those groceries home safely or were they a little beat up when you got back,” he said with a little chuckle. Even though I didn't find that amusing at all but his gorgeous smile convinced me to laugh along.
“Um, well, the apples were a little bruised but nothing I can't deal with. I'm the only one that eats those anyways.”
By now I realized we were back to the house. “Well this is my house. It was nice to meet you,” I said thinking this would be goodbye for at least the night. I realized though that he had a different idea.
“Oh you live here! I've been waiting to see who would buy this place. Wow, I'm really glad it's not some old retired couple or something. We have enough of those.”
“Nope. I'm living here for the summer instead. Not that I'm much better.”
“Oh believe me it's nice to see someone my own age for once. Ever since we moved here I've been alone. Sad I know. Surprisingly enough there are not a lot of teenagers around here. Just me and some renter kids that show up for a week or two in the middle of summer but I've never gotten to know them. Can I see the inside?”
“I guess but its not that great. The outside is a lot more impressive.”
“Well I want to see it anyways.”
I was expecting him to wait for me to open the door and let him in but he just barged right in. In most cases I would have been offended but with him for some reason his eagerness was charming. He was charming. He was different.
By the time I got Monster off his lease and had taken off my shoes, Tyler was already half way across the house. “You know there's a lot you could do with this place.”
“You sound like my mom. She cant wait to get started.”
“Want one suggestion?”
“Make this window right here a window seat. So you can sit her on rainy days and still look out to the beach.”
“Okay. I'll let my mom know.”
“I'm serious. Come here.” He sat down on the rough wood floor and patted the space next to him. I couldn't resist with that smile so I plopped down next to him. “Just picture it; sitting here and watching a storm come in.”
“Yeah I can see it.”
I thought about that first night I had met Tyler as I sat looking out on the water as if it was just yesterday. Suddenly I heard my mom call me for dinner. As I walked in the house I looked to the window seat we ended up building at the window. There sat Tyler holding Charlie, our son. Even after seven years of being together, looking at that window seat brought me back to that first summer.