Friday, April 17, 2009

Traveling with Friends

Some people have that innate ability to connect with others immediately. I am married to one such person. There are no strangers when it comes to my husband, Jim. If he is in a line at the grocery store for any length of time he will emerge from the store with all sorts of new friends. I must admit, it bugs me. I love my husband dearly and appreciate this quirky side of him; but I don't get it. I am single minded when I enter a store - get in, get out, don't forget anything on your list. That's pretty much it. My husband however, is much more about the journey.

I have learned to not be surprised anymore when he finds someone in line in some obscure place that is either related to him or went to school with someone he knows. While traveling on our honeymoon we stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Boston. Jim began a lengthy conversation with the couple that owned the establishment and discovered they knew a judge from his small hometown of Fallon, Nevada. Several years ago we were waiting in line in Disneyland and Jim began chatting with the gentleman standing next to us. Wouldn't you know it - this guy actually lived in my husband's small hometown a number of years earlier.

The weirdest time we met someone with whom we shared a mutual connection was when Jim went into a local art supply store. He had been taking some art classes and struck up a conversation with the lady who was helping him in the checkout line. He discovered she used to live in the old Wenatchee house that we were currently occupying.

We bought the home when we first moved to Wenatchee and fell in love with the 1910 architecture and the central location. Jim and I both have a passion for older homes and always want to know the "story" behind each one. When we moved into our older home we made a bizarre discovery.

Up in a corner, on a ledge, we discovered the cremated remains of a woman named "Eleanor". She was in her original packaging with her name and date. We checked with the former owners but they never noticed the container. Eleanor soon became a part of our house; or maybe we became a part of hers.

We left Eleanor in the room where we found her - the basement laundry room. I began greeting her whenever I came in to do laundry - I was secretly hoping she might do the laundry when I left. I do believe in creating "good house vibes" and wanted Eleanor to know I respected her position in the home.

Jim, on the other hand, did not share my sincerity. He thought it would be okay to dump Eleanor out. I would have none of this. I'm not sure if he really thought that would be okay or if he was just messing with me. I was determined to keep Eleanor happy until we could find her safely home.

At one point, early on, I became uncomfortable with my role as shared mistress of the house. I suggested to Jim that we might take her to the police department - maybe they could put her in their missing persons department or something. Jim didn't seem to think this would work.

Over time, Eleanor and I developed an understanding - I was her protector and would converse with her in a respectful manner - and she would not haunt me. In the end, it was my husband with his friendly ways who saved Eleanor.

It turned out that the lady in the checkout line used to live in our old Wenatchee house in the 1970's. Jim told her about our laundry room discovery and she almost passed out.
"That's my husband's aunt. We misplaced her!"

The very next day, bright and early, the lady's husband showed up on our doorstep to claim their missing person. While I was relieved to finally have Eleanor returned to her family, I began to miss her. Something was wrong with the house - it was like losing someone, sort of. My husband just shook his head and didn't understand. But I think Eleanor understood. Eleanor and I had an understanding - protection in exchange for peace. The sad thing is, after Eleanor left I stopped sneaking a peek to see if maybe -this time- the laundry was mysteriously done.

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