Conversations- by Laurel Tarantino

482668_503652546337838_18847582_n                                                                                                  Tilted House and Speedboat, John Bonner

A new entry in Loving and Leaving the Fort

April 25, 2015

My husband leaves early for the airport every day now. (Well, not the airport, but “Ocean Air.” To me, it sounds like he’s out at Logan.)   Anyway, my point is that he leaves early, 4:30 am, so he’s up by 4:00.  When he first got relocated to this position I thought I’d be fine with it, since my favorite part of the day is when it starts waking up.   I’d get up, pack his lunch and see him off for the day.  Boy was I wrong.  It seems there’s a big difference between waking on your own at 4:00 to watch the day unfold and waking to an alarm clock with half an hour to pack a “Jethro Bodine” size lunch box with healthy choices for a long day.

I’m not doing that now.  I learned quickly that I would be junk for the rest of the day, so now I’m getting his lunch ready the night before and I’m finding that I’m still junk.  There’s a lot to be said about waking with your loved one, sharing idle talk over coffee and seeing them off with a hug and a “Have a nice day.”


With our new routine, Jimmy will sometimes lean over and quietly kiss my cheek or forehead before he leaves as not to disturb my sleep.  It’s just the right gesture for me to smile and reposition myself to luxuriate under the warm blankets.  The next thing I know, two hours have passed and I wake alone, feeling empty.  I didn’t get to tell him to have a wonderful day.  I didn’t get my hug.  Something small, but so important is now missing from my every day.  It’s only been a couple of months of this different routine and I need to find that niche that is going to solve my morning lonesomeness.

There’s a loneliness I’ve carried with me out of the Fort too.  How do I explain?  How can one describe an empty emotion?  I find it amazing that something so empty can weigh so much.


The house I lived in down the Fort felt like a meetinghouse to me, or more so, a meeting yard. Perhaps because of its location sitting where it does out on that peninsula of a sort.  It’s impossible not to pass by it when traveling around its one- way street.  I spent a lot of time in the yard, be it for the dog’s sake, to mow the lawn, or just to play in the garden while the songbirds chattered away.  Always someone was bound to go by, on foot, bicycle, in a car or on a skateboard, and they’d stop for conversations over the fence.  Oftentimes it was simply small talk, “Beautiful day we’re having…   saw a great movie last night…   had some delicious beets from the garden for dinner…  ”  Sometimes we’d solve the world’s problems or each other’s.  More often than not, these conversations over the fence would lead to the gate opening and pulling up a chair at the table, then someone else would happen by and join us.  Before I knew it, the clothes I’d been washing wouldn’t get tended to for hours.  One of the drawbacks of time spent with friends, chores wouldn’t get done; but what’s more important?  I’ll choose time with a friend any day.  There will always be chores.


In the mornings I was pretty much guaranteed a visit from some of my four legged friends, Snuggles,  Ceasar, Oso.   Ettore would mosey by with Rona, Lucky Dog with Janine, Bandit would come up from Beach Court, but he was more of an afternoon visitor, could have timed a clock by him and, of course, I can’t forget Lulu with her entire self wagging with joy.  Always these visits ended with “Have a great day, see you later,” and most times I would see them later.





If the weather was nice late afternoons as folks were coming home from work, we’d end up back at the table til the sun went down, laughing, appreciating, reminiscing.  More often than not, people who had grown up down the Fort and since moved away would be driving by to relive their “Fort Days,” and they’d join us too.  New friendships would be formed, old ones reunited.  How the stories would flow, some in broken English, some broken by giggles because the story couldn’t be told without laughing, but always with a sense of a passion for a special time and place.  A small tight community, within a larger one.   Dinner would be late, but that was okay, because my husband would most likely be out rowing around the harbor anyway.  He’d pass by the house, see folks in the yard and pull the dory up onto Pavillion Beach, so he could walk up the house to say Hello, and then off again to enjoy his routine of exercise in the great outdoors.  He always had conversations of his own on the harbor, maybe with Gus and his crew that would just be tying up from days out at sea, or other folk who happened to be out on the water or on the dock when he came into Harbor Cove.



Meanwhile, back at 26 Fort Square, it was just easy living with a casual pace about life.  Friends would slowly adjourn the table with “Goodnight, see you tomorrow…  Love you, that was fun… “  and the day would end with a fullness to it.  Some of my favorite talks were with people who are no longer with us.  Paul would come to the fence at the side yard and we’d talk flowers and recipes;  Auntie Philly who I shared a backyard fence with, always had kind words. How I loved to see her.   Her aprons hanging on the clothesline must have heard a thousand stories.  And there was Chicky who would put her head out her second story window to ask across the street how my baby was doing.  My baby is no longer a baby, the table has been sold,  and these days are now gone, but not from my memory.  I like to think that those who are still down the Fort feel the same void that I do, not because I want them to feel any sort of emptiness, but so they know how very much they are loved and missed.