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Friday, October 23, 2015

We'll Always Have Newport-Chapter 6: Pulling Into Port


I am driving into a sea of fog. I can barely see on either side of my car.  It is a cold and rainy June evening. The temperature 50 degrees outside.
Thankfully, traffic on the Pell Bridge is relatively light. This blanket of fog ominously first made its presence known to me three hours ago when I first arrived into Bridgeport, Connecticut.

I have spent the past few hours with a death grip on my steering wheel. My 1996 low-mileage Buick is handling these adverse conditions like a champ. She has driven through the mountains and deserts of both California and New Mexico. She has battled snow, heavy rains, and even a drought or two. I have the utmost confidence in her.

 Throughout Connecticut I deal  with crazy drivers and most of them sport  Massachusetts license plates. When I relay this to my friends and family in Boston, no one seems shocked.

 In fact,there is a word for these types of drivers. They are (un)affectionately referred to as “Massholes”.
My phone vibrates and I click on my headset. 

A booming baritone voice with a slight New Jersey accent comes on the line.

“Babe, where are you?”

It is the Sailor.

“I just got on the Pell Bridge," I say.

“You’re close. I was getting worried about you. It’s super foggy out there,” He declares.

Who you tellin’?

“I am excited to see you,” I reply.

I struggle to stay focused but, hearing his deep baritone voice has me more than a bit distracted.
I spend the next 20 minutes precariously navigating myself off of the Pell Bridge and into the city of Newport. 

A mile or so off of the bridge is a small gas station. Thanks to some prior research on my part, I discover that Newport, RI is not what one would consider to be a 24-hour type of town. Most stores are closed by 11 p.m., which means that I need to stock up on food and some sundry items or risk having to wait until tomorrow morning.

According to the clerk, I am only about five blocks away from my destination.
Another 15 minutes passes and I pull up into the driveway of my new residence. I punch the Sailor’s number into my cell phone. He answers on the first ring.

"I made it," I announce.

"Okay, babe. I will see you in about 30 minutes."

I am a little over two hours late to meet my landlord, Carmine. He is WWII vet with an olive complexion and a slight build. I apologize profusely for being late.
"The fog will delay anyone. Glad that you made it here safely," Carmine says as he shakes my hand.
The apartment is above his house. There is both a back entrance and a side one.

I have seen the photos on the listing but, nothing prepares me for its quaintness. 

Due to the lateness of the hour, we are going through the side entrance. Carmine offers to help me but, I politely decline. I push two boxes of the books which I had sent a couple of weeks ago to the side. The living room is small with hardwood floors and two windows. One of the windows overlooks the guesthouse out back and the other one looks out onto the driveway.

There is no light fixture in the front room. I make a mental note to buy lamps. The dining room is small. There is a window which overlooks the neighbor’s yard. The refrigerator is located in the dining room. The kitchen is surprisingly spacious. It leads to the back staircase and the main way in which I will be entering and leaving the apartment.

The bathroom is small but, the water pressure is decent. The floor is straight from a 1980's decorator's dream. Black and white tile with coordinating backsplash. There is a small towel pantry on the side and a deep medicine cabinet complete with mirror over the sink.

I walk into the master bedroom and notice something that horrifies me....there is no closet. I think of the racks of clothing that are in my car. Where will I put them?

My eyes sweep over the two windows in the master bedroom. One overlooks the street below and the other has a view of the neighbor's front yard.

I rush over to the second bedroom and see that there is indeed a closet in there which is a bit on the small side, but it is better than nothing. There is one window which faces the street. A large sedan pulls up and I assume that it is the Sailor. My phone vibrates from my jacket pocket.

"Babe, I am here.”

I smooth my hair and try to walk on steady legs down the staircase to the side entrance. He bounds up the stairs to meet me and we stare into each other's eyes for a few moments. Instinctively, we reach out and our fingers touch. He pulls me into his arms for a quick kiss.

Then, the military part of him kicks in and he starts with the business of getting my car unpacked. I decide to only clear out the items in the front and back seat. The stuff in the trunk is hidden from view.

30 minutes later, my car with the exception of the trunk is unpacked. The curtains are up in the living room and bedrooms. The folding table and chair dining has been set up. The meager gas station groceries have been put stashed away.

All I want to do is fall into bed...except I do not have one.  Several months ago, I donated my air mattress to a displaced college student back in Santa Fe.
I gather all of the bedding and create a pallet on the floor. My cute driving sundress has been replaced with yoga pants and a long sleeved T-shirt. It is still surprisingly chilly for June and sleeping on the floor is probably not going to result in me warming up anytime soon.

I am 36 years old and I no longer own a bed of any kind. For some strange reason, this makes me burst out laughing.

The Sailor gives me a quizzical look and I explain the source of my laughter.
“Babe, welcome to military life. Sometimes, you reach your duty station a couple of days before your furniture,” He says with a chuckle.

When you first arrive to the duty station as a civilian, you will learn the importance of going with the flow…which generally is directed by the military.

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