It was not easy for me to celebrate my sweet sixteenth birthday without the comforting prescence of my charming father resting peacefully in his mahogany wood rocking chair. Six months ago, I forlornly attended the funeral of my adorned father. My mother and father embodied the essence of true love; the home they built together overflowed with sympathy, gentleness, and compassion. I grew up in a cherry colored house by the ocean. My father built out home with his own hands and a rusted hammer. On my birthday my mother and I observed each other’s sorrow through our secreted emotions, and sullen expressions. As my mother sliced only two slight slivers of marble birthday cake, we struggled to keep our tears burred in our hearts. Our sadness had the power to turn the sweetness of the cake tart. In addition to my father’s empty chair, something else seemed unfamiliar in this time-honored birthday tradition; there were no presents. Wiping away a solitary tear from her somnolent eyes, my mother moved quietly toward me. She handed me a twenty dollar bill and explained to me that I must spend it at the Saildeck, an antiquated gift shop in the center of town. Confused, but too fatigued to question her, I smiled and accepted her gift. The next day, weary of sitting around my sullen home, I decided to go to the Saildeck. To my surprise the shop was small and poorly built, looking as If it has endured a thousand downpours of heavy rain. As I opened the screeching door to the shop I was swept off my feet by a pleasant aroma of juniper berries combined uniquely with coconut palms. Abruptly, it dawned on my that there was no back wall; the shop opened up to the endlessness of the Atlantic Ocean. My astonishment at the peculiar sight created the sensation that I was swaying back and forth on a ship. A dock connected the back of the shop to Scituate Harbor, a small paradise of the Atlantic Ocean. As I walked across the dock, a balmy breeze carried a strong scent of sea salts from the sublime ocean throughout the air. The harbor overflowed with sailboats and yachts. As if they were overgrown and majestic children, each boat had a name proudly inscribed into its worn wooden panels. I watched a family of four board a small boat named “fools gypsy” near the shore. A strong desire in company with a tinge of sadness crossed my heart as I observed the father lift his youngest daughter onto his husky shoulders, carrying her onto the boat. I averted my attention to a ship named “Cider with Rosie.” On board there were three men fishing for crabs and lobster. Scituate was legendary for its delectable seafood salad that overflowed with crab legs and lobster meat. I could smell the seaweed as it was dragged up with the shellfish, as the waves roared like thunder against the pillars of the Saildeck. The waves were as steady as a heartbeat. I found inner peace as I closed my eyes and harmonized my heartbeat with the sound of their crashing. I turned back into the store, feeling sprinkles of mist from the sapphire ocean against my back.
My attention was drawn to an array of vintage clothes from India. They were silken and delicate, smelling heavily of exotic perfumes. The clothes possessed a quixotic essence and were decorated with intricate beading. I dreamed of the dramatic and romantic lives of the Indian women who once wore these dazzling garments. I wrapped a cozy cashmere shall that smelled rich of French Vanilla around my boney shoulders. All of the clothes were hand made, and passed down from generations of Indian families. Tempted to purchase one for myself, I felt it would be insulting to wear any of these garments to anywhere but a whimsical palace.
To the left of the apparel, there was an array of jewelry set upon a large wooden hand carved shelf. The shelf looked as ancient as if it once was the holder of buried treasure, recently excavated from the deepest crevasse of the ocean. The jewelry was delicately mounted onto twine threads made from the barks of eucalyptus trees. The beads were tinted in rare dyes of turquise, azure, and primrose. Brass pleated gold rings separated each bead. As I poured a handful of beads into my hand, they sounded like the lullaby of rainfall. To the touch they were chilled, and smooth. They were enchanting and magical, adding to the nature and essence of the shop. I felt as if I was on a ship being sailed away on a vacation.
A little boy holding a pail and shovel scurried into the store. His feet squished inside of his shoes; he had come from the beach. He was immediately drawn to the table of seashells and sand dollars. The shells were whitish and pastel pink. It looked as if the ocean has washed out their color over a thousand years. The sand dollars fit perfectly into the palm of the boy’s hand. They had come from the deep ocean and had once been saturated in deep moistened sand. He held a seashell up to his ear and whispered aloud to himself that he could still hear the ocean from inside the shell. The reminded me of my father, for this was a legend he had always told me. I picked up a shell that was bumpy and curved. I thought that the shell resembled my life, because of the many bumps and curves. The shells made my hands soft and smelled of low tide. I was one of the few who loved the mildewed smell of low tide. There was no doubt in my mind why my mother wanted me to see this incredible place. It was magical, enchanting, and its wonder could brighten up any gloomy day.
The wooden walls were ornamented with exquisite Oriental rugs. The vibrant colors of the rugs were like a mirage of autumn foliage. The colors complimented the unique lime scent. There was a young married couple gazing at the rugs. The newlywed’s love reminded me of the devotion my parents had for one another. Standing mesmerized in front of the array of rugs, I longed to find a love as profound as my parents. Made of handspun lambs wool in the 1940s, the rugs had a beautiful mughan design and were the most expensive item in the shop. To the sight they looked coarse and textured but were particularly soft and lusterous. They were like a mind teaser. If you looked hard enough you could see images of warriors, animals, and people imbedded in the prints and patterns.
A tiny yellow spider crawled over one of the oriental rugs. I watched as it scurried up the wall into a dusted corner, next to an old cast iron lantern. In the corner there was a collection of old town photo albums. Residents in the town donated family albums to the Quaterdeck. This was done to preserve the personal history of Scituate. I reached for a leather-bound gold-trimmed album. I opened the flimsy cover of the album and was flooded by the scent of cinnamon cigars. I was immediately reminded of my father who used to smoke cinnamon cigars every night after dinner on the lifeguard chair on the beach. I studied a crinkled page colored in deep reddish-brown sepia. It was a picture of a carousel. There was a young man in his early twenties with a woman in her late adolescence on his lap. The caption underneath read, “Bruce and Marian.” In dumfounded awe I realized that the picture was of my parents. The photo album whispered stories from their youth. I could tell that this was why my mother had sent me to the quarterdeck. I could tell by the album that my father lived a happy and fulfilled life that was filled with enjoyment and love. The memory of his embodied youth will linger forever in the mystical shop of the Saildeck.
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