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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Phoenix



In tenth grade, my best friend’s father purchased a New Hampshire inn and that fall, she moved away, leaving us both inconsolable. The following year, her parents invited me to live with them for the summer while working as a waitress in the dining room. In June, I moved from suburban Boston into a back bedroom in their 1790’s inn, situated at the head of a common, in a town of twelve hundred. Talk about culture shock. But to this day, I define the experiences that summer, and the following one when I returned, as the period in which I first came to know myself—and to imagine the type of person I wanted to become.

Many years later, the inn, so centered at the core of me was sold, and I grieved.  Even though I could visit, it wouldn’t be the same, but even worse, a series of new owners failed to run the place successfully. Foreclosures resulted, and it remained empty for extended periods. So, when an invitation arrived to celebrate the recent wedding of this same friend’s daughter at the inn, open again and under new management, I was all in. We booked a room for the night after the party, and last weekend, my husband and I took the trip north.

Here’s the thing.  We can’t relive history, really.  But if we’re lucky, we get to step through emotional ghosts. My husband and I opened the door to the inn to find my friend waiting to greet us, and discovering her there stripped me down to oh-so-young-me.  Much of the place had changed—walls opened up, bedrooms removed to allow for cathedral ceilings below, a pizza oven installed on the back porch where I celebrated my sixteenth birthday. But, the bones remained, and while we were there, the place echoed a happiness I remember, reflected in the smiles of the bride and the groom and her parents—even on the faces of the energetic couple who now run the place.
 
Following the afternoon reception, my husband and I took a long walk, and by the time we returned, a line had formed for the dining room where we’d hoped to eat, so we claimed two stools in the expanded pub.  Over delicious salmon and risotto there, we chatted with the couple next to us.  Around us glasses clinked, the beat of conversations blended with music performed by local college students, and all this evidence of the inn’s revival fed a furnace in my heart. 

Before we left the next day, I took a picture of outside of the building, unchanged from when I was a teen.  As it disappeared behind us, I felt as if I’d been allowed to finger my history through a soft cloth, before handing it off.  I went home comforted to have touched the patina of the past, but more importantly, grateful to see it polished into a gleaming, present-day shine.


13 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's rare we get to go back like that. Glad the inn is up and running again.

Delores said...

Gorgeous building.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love this - "We can’t relive history, really. But if we’re lucky, we get to step through emotional ghosts."

And the building looks gorgeous.

Joanne said...

your last line says it all - very poetic and touching. So glad you got to revisit it, enjoy your old friend, and leave it gleaming with a new life

Bish Denham said...

I don't well, the feeling you so lovingly describe. Every time I go home to the Virgin Islands, ghostly memories lurk. They are at once, both lovely and sorrowful.

It's so nice to know that the old has been refurbished and made new.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It sounds so lovely and your words paint a beautiful picture. That must have been a fun summer when you were a teen. Glad the new owners are taking care of it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lisa - what a shock and a pleasant surprise ... it sounds as though a young girl's life might start again from the hotel. They seem to have really brought it up to date and I'm so pleased you were happy to return ... lovely experience. Cheers Hilary

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Most experiences often turn magical with time, huh?

(not that it wasn't special at the time)

Connie said...

Such a beautiful place. It's so nice that you could revisit the spot and your memories there.

Pixel Peeper said...

Isn't it fun to glance back at your memories?

I love the front porches of this inn!

glnroz said...

I think Mr. Wolfe might be wrong. Here, I felt a very warm feeling of being "home" again. Thnx Ms Liza glenn

Robin said...

I love this story Liza. I think it's something we can all relate to... In fact, it's much of the same feelings I had about camp this past summer. It was a place I did so much growing as a youth. It's not the same, but not entirely different. It lives on and touches other people. That's pretty great.

Kittie Howard said...

An absolutely gorgeous post, Liza. I think we all went down Memory Lane with you, hoping with each step it would work out -- and it did! I love how you put everything in perspective, pull the good and move on. Very inspiring!