It could be a dream. All of it, every moment of joy and fear, every thought of God and death, all of the blisters and shoulder pain, hugs from strangers and droplets of rain. The way the white horse galloped over after I said “I love you,” the way she warmed my insides like chamomile.
I haven’t remembered any dreams in a long time, which irrationally makes me think that I must be in a dream. I’m sitting in a mermaid-themed room in an Arkansas bed and breakfast. The walls are blue and covered in bubbles, mermaids, fish, and sparkly things. The owner’s daughter – now grown with her own kids – painted the ceiling with rolling waves that might sweep me away while I’m sleeping.
When I got here, Judy (the owner), told me about her kids, grandkids and her husband who passed away in 2009. She pointed out the window to the place where they used to play volleyball and badminton as a family – a grassy space nestled between three pine giants.
“We sure had fun.”
She is proud of her home, which now has four guest rooms with different themes, large living and dining room areas, and a cozy cowboy feel throughout. Downstairs in the dining room there are tall, glass cookie jars, full, and a platter with frosted brownies. There is an assortment of other snacks, tea, hot cocoa and coffee, and Judy makes sure I don’t feel shy about helping myself. In the hall I see a family portrait, taken out in the yard when the kids were teenagers. I stare for a long time, feeling nostalgic on Judy’s behalf.
I am the only guest here, so I peak into the other rooms and decide that I have gotten the best one. Back under the sea, I close my eyes and listen to the weather that led me to seek shelter. I imagine floating in the Atlantic, as I often do, but being in The Mermaid Room allows me to feel the water.
I don’t know what day it is, and never do anymore. I almost ask Judy but decide I don’t want to know. It feels like I stepped into another family’s life, and I am flooded with memories of this place. There is love in these walls, and I’m overcome with an unfamiliar longing for the past… to go back in time with Judy’s family for a game of badminton and a home cooked Arkansas dinner. And the feeling of it all being a dream continues.