On a narrow peninsula not far from Harpswell, Maine, stands a house called Sea Breeze. It used to belong to a couple whose grandkids were growing up in Brooklyn. The kids would come up to Maine during the summers to run into the woods, to fish with their grandfather, to play with the neighbors who lived there year-round.
When the grandfather died, the house was sold.
The older of the two kids is the girl that I think of as “my” girl, or that I sometimes call The Girl. (Shall I call her TG? I think I will.) TG and I went up there today. It was the first time anyone in the family had been back since the house had been sold.
We drove by old houses whose white paint was luminous in the sunlight. We saw the old church, with a pointed arch over the door, and the parish next door that looked like it perhaps had once been the church. We turned off the main road and passed the elementary school, which still has a playground in back.
The narrow road ends by a dock, lobster traps piled high. Boats bobbed in the cove. Sunlight streamed over the rocky shore, spongy and slippery from seaweed stranded by the tide. Mussel and periwinkle shells crunched underfoot.
We met a fisherman in a red hat on the dock. He hadn’t known TG’s grandfather, but he said a lot of people agreed with TG that the area had changed a lot in twelve years. Trees, whole stretches of tall pines, had come down. New houses had gone up. She didn’t recognize the house the first time we went by.
The house still wears a sign saying “Sea Breeze.” Parked by the side of the driveway was a van for Sea Breeze Plumbing. A man was putting the spare tire back in. TG said hello and introduced herself.
Most of the trees behind the house had come down in a storm, he said, and no one there was happy when someone came through and cut the rest down. The old neighbor still lived next door, though her husband had died. Her two kids, which TG had played with, were grown. One was married and had a child of his own.
No one was home next door except for the horse in the garden.
The man who owned Sea Breeze now had put it on the market for a while, he said, but taken it off again. People still talk about TG’s grandfather. She remembered him fishing, both by the dock and down a long driveway at a neighbor’s place across the road. She remembered that he used to swim in the cold water every day.
We walked around for a while, and then we left. The house was still there, but it wasn’t the same. To me, it was all new: I have nothing to compare it to.
(Pictures will come later: I forgot to bring the cable to download them from my camera.)