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Posts Tagged ‘Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty’

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Carol and I said a slow and reluctant goodbye to the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

the morning view straight down from the Shakespeare room

the morning view straight down from the Shakespeare room

We passed through the front garden as we walked around the building on the fewer-stairways route to breakfast.

We passed through the front garden as we walked around the building on the fewer-stairways route to breakfast. Our Shakespeare window shows on the right, above.

our view from our breakfast table in the Tables of Content restaurant.

our view from our breakfast table in the Tables of Content restaurant.

After breakfast (lemon squares, peach kitchen, fruit, juice, and scrumptious scrambled eggs with chevre!), we loaded our luggage into the car. I used the back stairway (conveniently right next to Shakespeare) as I can go slowly sideways there without anyone seeing. I think Destiny may be the one who tipped me off about the back stairway. Even then, my increasing phobias bothered me as I felt dizzy just being next to the windows on the landing.

I worry that eventually I will be too phobic to leave the house; I hope the SBH lure will be strong enough to draw me out!

I worry that eventually I will be too phobic to leave the house; I hope the SBH lure will be strong enough to draw me out!

Back in the lobby, Shelley snoozed adorably.

shelley

She got a smooch.

She got a smooch.

I made a decision and booked five nights for my birthday week in March. Sixtieth is a big one, yes? Steinbeck, Melville, Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, Jules Verne. The idea is that Allan will start the trip with me and then leave me there, and Carol will come down for the last four nights. Or fewer, as I would be fine being there alone (although might change the middle nights to Gertrude Stein and Lincoln Steffans then). I told the innkeepers (who Carol later noted had written the reservations down by hand in an old fashioned hotel register book) that I am a hypochondriac and a catastrophizer who finds it hard to plan far ahead in case something goes wrong. However, with the generous 48 hour cancellation policy, I can take the risk.

I said to the innkeeper, “Maybe five nights will be enough.” She chortled and replied, “It just gets worse.” Later, a friend told me she had stayed fifteen nights, trying to leave twice and each time coming back.

Then Carol and I went back up to the library for more reading.

stairs from first to second floor

stairs from first to second floor

on the way to the library

on the way to the library

Looking back down to the second floor...

Looking back down to the second floor…

and up to the library.

and up to the library.

There are two more flights of stairs other than these, one to the restaurant in the daylight basement and one to the library attic. I remember reading a journal entry by an old woman who wrote, from a first floor guest room, that this would be her last visit as she could no longer make it up to the library.

I made my way to the attic to get some more old journals out of the glass front bookshelf, ones I had already read. The corner that used to have a chaise lounge, and then later an easy chair, has tables and chairs now, not as idea a reading nook by the singing pipes. The day before, two quiet folk had been playing a game or doing a puzzle in that corner.

My favourite corner is different now.

My favourite corner is different now. The pipes still sing in the wind.

I had found an evocative journal entry about this particular window spot by the pipes:

“Climb the stairs all the way to the top of the building, bypass the wide-flung reading room, and come to the library in the attic. By the far side, against the window from which you can see the waving sea, are two low chairs. Sit in the one facing the coast in the dark of the night, turn on the little lamp next to you, and read your book while listening to the hushing of the sea and the soft rustle of the turn of pages below you in the library. A sort of magic happens, in which all cares are eased from you, and the miraculous begins to seem not entirely farfetched. Ever my heart will linger here.”

The attic reading spot used to look like this.

The attic reading spot used to look like this.

Some reminisce about attic seating even longer ago: “I like the oldness, the shabbiness, the casual clutter, especially the old chaise lounge tucked up under the leaves.”

 

Then back down to a corner chair by the library fireplace.

ready for journal reading

ready for journal reading

I was fortunate in that someone checked out of the Melville room at just this time so I was able to snag a stack of Melville journals instead of the old Tennessee Williams room ones that I had already read.

In the Melville room, lower right, a treasure trove of journals.

In the Melville room, lower right, a treasure trove of journals.

the mirror itself, in 1991, with the Great White Bed.

the mirror itself, in 1991, with the Great White Bed.

In the Melville room: “I’ve woken while it was still dark, yet there is enough light to see the ocean. There is a bit of a blow coming ashore with an unnatural urgency. The wind has picked up in the last half hour, making the building shudder as the gusts hit. I can understand why some guests are unnerved by the sensation, but I’m glad the timbers flex and give a little in stormy weather. That’s what has enabled the Gilmore/Sylvia Beach to survive this long.”

 

the view from my chair

the view from my chair

Carol sat to my left in the brown chair, and you can see above someone else reading in the chair facing the window. At the far end, a couple read from the same iPad. We decided to stay until 1 PM before our necessary departure.

I ran across this entry and thought that making the world easier to live in is an excellent goal to strive for:

opal

art

I read two Melville journals and skimmed two more, trying to follow a star-crossed lovers romance that bloomed in the pages. Then the Melville journals had to go back into their room.

I looked at the Melville room reading nook and dreamed of reading here with Carol in March 2015.

I looked at the Melville room reading nook and dreamed of reading here with Carol in March 2015.

This would be our view.

This would be our view.

I do think that of all my friends, Carol is the most quiet and meditative one, a perfect companion for the Sylvia Beach. With over 35 years of friendship, we have no drama, just restfulness.

As our time drew to a close, I came upon an entry I had read before and that is perhaps my favourite of all the journal entries that have come my way:

best1

best2

A song for the Sylvia Beach was the latest entry in the library journal:

the last entry in the most recent library journal, before...

the last entry in the most recent library journal, before…

Before leaving, Carol and I left our mark in the latest library journal.

carol

mine

mine2

After having written that and before descending the stairs, we saw the most appropriate picture in the restroom off the library.

I must, must, must return to SBH more often.

I must, must, must return to SBH more often.

On the way down to the lobby, we peeked into one last room.

The Lincoln Steffans room, whose journals I have not read AT ALL.

The Lincoln Steffans room, whose journals I have not read AT ALL.

I do hope the Lincoln Steffan journals are still here and that I can read them in March.

I do hope the Lincoln Steffan journals are still here and that I can read them in March. I know that some of them are typed on this old typewriter and I have seen sheets of typewritten paper stacked in a desk drawer.

As we left, the innkeeper called out to me, “We’ll see you for your sixtieth birthday!” I had already told her I was a catastrophizer, and I replied with a fervent, “Oh, I hope so!” to which she firmly replied, “None of that bullshit; we WILL see you.” I loved that.

the garden of the house next door to the SBH

the garden of the house next door to the SBH

and back to reality at a gas station in Newport

and back to reality at a gas station in Newport, just blocks from the peace of the hotel.

We drove straight back to Astoria with nary a stop till we got to the Bridgewater Bistro and had dinner, then parted at my house. Carol had one more day of vacation and would return to Seattle on Tuesday. At home, I sat down in a daze and picked up a book. Hours later, I had read the whole thing. The Sylvia Beach effect: I could not bear to boot up the computer, even to start blogging.

I read this book in one sitting, as I could not bear to turn on the telly, either.

I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty in one sitting, as I could not bear to turn on the telly, either.

from the book, something with which I strongly identify

from the book, something with which I strongly identify

and something else that spoke to me, as I am worn out by bright chatty people.

and something else that spoke to me, as I am worn out by bright, chatty, bubbly people.

I also liked the character's thoughts on Facebook.  I like best those Facebook friends who share their true selves, however dire or dour.

I also liked the character’s thoughts on Facebook. I like best those Facebook friends who share their true selves, however dire or dour.

Four cats and Allan (who watched a quiet movie on his computer while I read) were happy to see me. Tomorrow, work would begin again.

Mary, contentedly snoozing on the back of my reading chair.

Mary, contentedly snoozing on the back of my reading chair.

I am adding one more post about the healing power of the room journals, setting it to publish this evening. For those readers who have had enough of my maundering on about the SBH, skip straight to tomorrow morning’s entry, which will get back to the real world.

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