As a youth, Leo called his home “The Rock” as in San Quinton. His father was a lighthouse keeper on a small island off the coast. Except for a few summer residences, there was isolation. It was just his father, mother, and him.
He was either at his mother’s side or his father’s. Difficult for them to have intimate moments so they sent young Leo hunting for seashells. By the time he left the island, there were several piles along the pathway from the beach to the lighthouse.
As much as he disdained his youth and living there, over the years he began to romanticize about the place.
“Leo,” Abe said. “I see you scheduled vacation for next week. Where ya goin’?”
“My childhood home,” Leo said. “A little island off the coast. I think it's abandoned now.”
“Island!” Abe said. “Like Coney Island or Long Island?”
“No,” Leo smiled. “A real live island, surrounded by water.”
“I don’t think you ever told me about it,” Abe said. “What’s it look like?”
“My home was a cozy cottage on an island manicured by nature as perfect as any landscaper could only imagine or accomplish. The cottage was white, pristine, and full of charm and life. Waves gently lapped the beaches on the south side of the island as waves crashed the north side. Day after day is spent in undisturbed beauty observing nature and the sea in all its splendor. Every day is unlike the other, full of enchantment, wonder, and solemnity. A place to renew your purpose and explore new vistas.”
“I was raised in Queens,” Abe said. “I can’t top that. If you explored, you got worked over.”
The next week Leo motored in a rented boat two hours to the island now abandoned. The lighthouse was now automated and had been that way for decades.
He ran the boat up near the beach, cut the engine, and tossed the anchor. Overgrowth had consumed the island. The entrance to the pathway leading to the house and lighthouse had grown shut. He climbed a rock to spy on his old home and the lighthouse.
Growth surrounded the house. A portion of the roof had caved in. The porch’s pillars had all collapsed. It was weather-beaten beyond recognition like a bruised, battered, and bleeding boxer sitting defeated in his corner.
He found a way to the house and poked around a while, recalled some fond memories, and found what remained of the pathway back to the beach. Walking along the path resurrected and invigorated long-lost memories.
He was satisfied as he approached the end of the pathway. He could now put everything to rest and come to grips with the fantasy he lived regarding this place. It truly was a rock, yet he did not want to allow himself to be bitter.
As a final gesture and note of finality to the place he would never return he must have honest and good words to leave it with.
He turned to gaze upon the house. “Rustic,” he said. “That’s the best I can do.“
His eyes followed the pathway from the house to his feet. He walked a few steps back the pathway. He parted the tall grass. There was a pile of seashells. He walked further and uncovered three more. He smiled thinking about his parents. “Rustic and a place for lovers.”