a house of stories

I used to live in a traveller's inn. It was a big old building on the long ridge of a hill, and when you looked out its west windows you could breathe the wind from the dark mountains, and when you looked out its east windows you could see the ocean's gleam.

I made the beds and the breakfasts, swept the floors, washed the endless sheets. And at night I slept in this room and then that room, like a gypsy girl in a world that was a house (taking with me my own bedding.) In the mornings I was the first up, before even the sun was up, to fry sausages and replicate my mother's famous scrambled eggs. In the evenings I wandered the neighbourhood, gathering flowers to decorate dinner plates.

Some nights in the back yard, Italian and Swedish and Australian travellers would sing together and play guitars while the two house dogs (old and round, small and yappy) howled along. My parents made many friends, my brother ran the restaurant, and I sat quietly upstairs, listening to the constant wind, writing stories. I wasn't unsociable, just very tired.

I learned that a university education in the Italian language meant un po when it came to organising taxis for non-English-speaking backpackers. I read The Sorceress and the Cygnet on my first week there, and listened to Shepherd Moons, and together they wove a long enchantment of wayfaring through my mind - which seemed appropriate, considering where I lived. By the time our family sold the place, it was more restaurant than inn, and the magic had gone. But I think for the rest of my life I will remember the fall of sunlight on candlewick quilts and the way sheets hanging on a laundry line open then close constantly to this world, that world, a thousand dreams.

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