Forever ago, my baggage drifted onto the shores of the property of a kind, old man who had seen every Jimmy Stewart film ever released. He drove a black 1950s Cadillac convertible that his goddaughter had restored for his 76th birthday. Three bags in total of mine floated onto the smoothed-out rocks down the dune from his front porch. Respectful, and not one to pry, he tugged the damp, leathery containers from the sea. With the help from a black bear, who also called this beach home, the old man hoisted my bags onto drier ground.
The sea spat me out several hours later. I knew my name and that I was wearing my favorite pair of overalls, navy blue tennis shoes, light orange shirt with a peter pan collar, and the red ribbon that Bathsheba had tied into my hair was still there. I don’t remember how I ended up on that beach, given that i fell off the pier at summer camp…inland. I am even less certain of how my baggage appeared on the grass just up from where I had collapsed to catch my breath.
I didn’t pack my bags; and contrary to what my step-brother kept insisting, summer camp was not completely terrible. I’d made a friend and finally learned how to ride a bicycle.
“You there!” the old man cried when he saw me.
I lifted my head as high as I could and squinted.
“Where have you been? Do you know what year it is?”
Ambling much faster than I expected a man of his age to be able to move, he was upon me and crouched before me. He put his hand on my forehead, brushed my hair out of my face, took my hands into his and attempted to blink back … tears.
“I don’t understand…how did I get here?”
“Bonnie, do you know how worried I’ve been? You said you were going for a swim, not for a triathlon.”
“My name is Hippolyta…and I didn’t go for a swim, I fell off a pier at summer camp that way,” I said as I pointed in the direction opposite of the water.
“I didn’t think you’d come back, but that’s all fine now. ‘Cause you’re here. Look, Josephina fixed up the car. We can take it on the drive down the coast like you’ve always wanted.”
I was about to write off his mutterings as signs of dementia and maybe a love for Jimmy Stewart much too strong for his own good, but what I saw in his eyes was a deep knowing, not fanciful trappings of a man trying to live out the rest of his days in peace.