It was lovely to spend some time last week back on Orcas Island. Unlike many places where I used to live, the island changes little. Yes, the stores change hands -- the old ones fail, and new optimists come in with all their merchandise, and hopes, and dreams. But for the most part the scenery remains unchanged -- and ever beautiful.
The faces haven't changed that much either, over the years -- not even my own, though surely there are signs of wear and tear. But a new haircut is far more startling than a little gray, or a wrinkle or two, or the slow sag of flesh with time.
I was thinking of this yesterday because I happened to be in the room when my husband turned the TV to NCIS, a show I never watch, and there stood an actor who'd been an idealized dreamboat in my youth: David McCallum, who'd played Illya Kuryakin, the handsome blonde secret agent in Mission Impossible. I could see him as an older man, of course, but I could also see the handsome youth who stole my heart all those years ago; that sharp jawline still shines clear despite the aging jowls. (Those of us who have weak jaws and chins SO admire the jawlines with which our heroes have been blessed!)
And then I look in the mirror and am shocked by the new shortness of my hair -- and how it exposes that same weak jaw and chin I so deplore. I reassure myself, of course, because I know it will all grow out; it's an easy adjustment that also fades with time.
But as I watch, in my own neighborhood, the little cabins disappearing, each to be replaced by mega-mansions, whose inhabitants will rarely be in residence...those changes, unlike my hair, are irrevocable: our little neighborhood will never be the same.
Little wonder, then, that I draw so much pleasure from the unchanged rural vistas of Orcas Island -- and yet, as I wander the backroads, I can feel a sense that this is no longer home. There's a sadness in my heart as it seeks that sense of connection and finds the threads that wove me into this community are slowly unraveling. Each time I visit I feel a little more like a tourist, a little less like a child returning home...