At times during the evening with Marie, it was too easy for me to recall the spirited high school student or the pre-med junior I had visited in her college dorm room. I would briefly forget that I was facing a professional woman in her mid-thirties, a successful OB/GYN with a practice in central Massachusetts.
Though unmarried, Marie had determined a number of years earlier not to delay the purchase of property. She had built a two-storey house in a neighborhood ten minutes from the clinic where she had her practice. She was eager for her home to become one of the venues the rest of us considered for holiday meals.
Then Marie got to buy a small summer house on Cape Cod. After that purchase she made sure that her parents began to count on this home away from home for their use. Eager to acknowledge the role Marie was beginning to play in the family, I told her pointedly during our birthday evening that it was lovely to imagine Augusts in the future when yet unborn generations of the family would think of Marie as the magnet for fun gatherings.
Since then the first of those unborn generations has been born. There are toys collected in bright plastic tubs in the main living room of the Cape house. Stacks of children’s books show up in different rooms. There is a swing set in the back yard.
Next week I go to that house for a few days. It is a time of year I have gotten to count on having that home away from home to myself. I will set the kitchen radio to play the eclectic music of a Provincetown radio station – WOMR – OuterMost Community Radio. The call letters recall the title of Henry Beston’s 1928 masterpiece of naturalist writing, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod.
At one point during our dinner in 2006, Marie recounted her recent unearthing of a composition she had penned at the end of second grade. In it she had written of her excitement long ago at the prospect of her Uncle John’s moving in with her and her family. My older brother had generously arranged for me to live with his family for the year after I left the seminary.
When I go to Marie's house on the Cape next week, I live my own life but I live with my family again.