"She praised herself in praising the light, without vanity, for she was stern, she was searching, she was beautiful like the light. It was odd, she thought, how if one was alone, one leant toward things, inanimate things; trees, streams, flowers; felt they expressed one; felt they became one; felt they knew one, in a sense were one; felt an irrational tenderness thus (she looked at that long steady light) as for oneself."
(Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse)
This past week I have been visiting my Nana in southern Maine. The days have mostly been spent helping her transition back into New England life after her annual winter in Florida: playing chauffeur while her little Honda has been on the fritz, hanging picture frames, and sharing stories in between large glasses of white zinfandel.
I took off on my own this afternoon; driving streets that still felt familiar after so many childhood summers, I kept the sunroof open to let in all that salty pine air. I found myself at this lighthouse, a tiny thing on the edge of a little state park.
Virginia Woolf said it best, but sometimes it seems as if inanimate things express us best. Memories resurface. Tides change. And walking down to the water's edge, stepping carefully from rock to rock, and sifting through sand and seeweed, I felt as if I was encountering a younger version of myself. A girl who, once, spent so much time among these things, this land, this place. And there I was, visiting her after a very long time away.
I pulled To the Lighthouse from the depths of my canvas bag and, finding a spot somewhat shielded from the coastal wind, I settled into the sand to sit and watch and read.