Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Happy Place

With less than a week before my scheduled, September 10th surgery, we are in Menemsha - a small fishing village on the island of Martha's Vineyard. It is so remote here that our GPS only picks up water. Relaxed...with minimal amounts of clothing, no makeup, and no jewelry unless you count lobster claw, rubber band rings, and turkey feather hair adornment - I am in search of guidance, surgery vs the "wait and watch" approach.

Settled into a private, one bedroom, rustic cottage with a full kitchen, fireplace, and a porch overlooking the ocean, we are happy here and our dogs, Sasha and Lucy, are over the moon!

There is a family of wild turkeys living around us. These are the dumbest birds I've ever seen. When chased, they run in different directions, change directions, bump into each other, and fall down. At first I thought they were reenacting "serpentine" perfected by Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in the classic comedy, "The In-Laws." Then I realized they were just, plane, dumb.

Lucy made friends with two, elitist llamas and a gang of colorful chickens that live just beyond a field of wild flowers that boarder a crystal blue ocean and shell crusted sands. Sasha now prefers sleeping under the porch, covered in spider webs, instead of on our king sized bed, and when awake, roams freely in search of bunnies and squirrels. I don't know how to tell them that we will soon be back in Baltimore (should I choose surgery), amerced in the faux quaintness of an unkept city or (should I choose "wait and watch"), trapped in a tangled, suburban web of leash laws, leaf blowers, and chemically treated lawns that we, reluctantly, call home.

There is no cell phone coverage here and limited internet service, and I like that. This and the wind and wine forces me to slow down.

I don't know why we can't just stay here - if only money didn't matter and there was no such thing as cancer.

What we wake to each morning is the clang of buoy bells, timed perfectly with deep throated moo's from the neighboring farms cows and an echo of caw's from a menagerie of island birds.

We have not been on the island of Martha's Vineyard since our honeymoon - 11 years ago. This is also where Mark SHOCKED me with his wedding proposal, a year earlier, over lobsters and champagne on a deck overlooking Edgartown Harbor. To say I didn't see it coming would be an understatement. At the seasoned age of 42, he was the classic, eternal bachelor - with not a care or kid to his name. His presentation of a tightly bowed tiffany box, left me speechless for almost three days.

This vacation, planned meticulously by my husband, is his way of showing me that he will always be by my side.

Early this morning, we took a precarious walk down a pathway littered with boulders and weathered tree roots, through thickets of sloppy marsh, into the center of town where we were first in line to order lobsters.

While here, I took advantage of the limited menu and also bought lobster bisque, lobster mac and cheese, lobster dip, stuffed clams and clam chowder. If I proceed with surgery it will be a long time before I can dine on such delicacies, so I am savoring every bite.

On our first night, with flash lights in hand, we wandered fifty yards down a dark, gravel pathway to The Beach Plumb Restaurant. Pleased to know in advance that this was a dry town and therefore BYOB, but stunned to learn it was recently revamped into a "farm to table" concept, which meant that, earlier that same day, I met and photographed pending entree's.

The menu was sparse and ridiculously overpriced. As a main course, they ran out of beef and subsidized it with a choice of fish and beans ($38.00) or chicken hearts with pickled beets ($28.00). I asked if I could have the whole chicken, minus the heart, and was abruptly told they ran out. As for the "fresh catch of the day," charging $38.00 for fish in a fishing village is like charging $20.00 for a potato in Idaho.

I elected to have an appetizer of stilton cheese ($17.00) served with vine ripened tomatoes ($12.00) and a baguette the size of my husbands middle finger ($4.00) - I know this because I measured it.

Later that night, I got a bug bite on my right noob and couldn't stop talking about it. I have not felt anything on my chest since my double mastectomy. I now fantasize about crisp night air causing unfathomable, nipple erections.

I love that writing is so endearing to me that I make it a vacation priority. I love knowing that when pain and uncertainty eclipses my sanity, I will medicate with memories of this happy place.

Thank you for reading. Time for more lobster.

xo, MonkeyME


  1. Enjoy your retreat and may the guidance you seek come to you there. Your husband sounds like a real sweetie.

  2. Oh those pics are heavenly. I am "joyful" that u are having this peaceful time. A "second" honeymoon at that.

    Always in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with u.

    I feel peace after reading this particular blog.

    Luv coming ur way from Memphis.

  3. my dear shannon,,a short note to let you know we are still here reading and waiting on your next post...i say we because you are in possession of a great many people that love and think of you daily,,with special thoughts,,,trudy

  4. Your friends are quite right, Shannon. I, also, feel peace from this post. This time away from the rest of the world is what you need to contemplate the future. Best wishes and thoughts are with you. Perhaps a compendium of your blog posts would make an interesting book/journal. I've no doubt you could find a publisher. Peace back at'cha. Liz Martin

  5. Shannon, you should have told me you were coming!!! I only live 20 minutes from the ferry. We hit the Vineyard often in the summer, and I only worked two days this week!

    Glad you're enjoying it... lobster sounds so good right now.

  6. Lucy and Sasha look like Robin Hood and Little John squaring off over the river....

    So glad you're enjoying this retreat....breathe it in Monkey!!!!!



  7. What an incredible place for your husband to have taken you and the dogs. It sounds perfect.

    I LOVE LOBSTER!!! I could happily dine on lobster every day for a while. And interesting that you mentioned stilton cheese because I bought some this week for the first time. It has peaches in it and I am having it on an English muffin for breakfast. It's quite tasty.

    I was at the coast yesterday and it is the best place to renew your spirit, so take all that you need from this retreat.

    Thinking of you and wishing you peace. xoxoxoxo

  8. Happy to find you in such beautiful surroundings and savoring it all (especially the lobster). Hugs!

  9. It sounds lovely and your description was so good... I felt as though I were on vacation with you for a few moments. Sending you happy thoughts :)

  10. Lovely memories, honeymoon vacation, honeymoon, and the first time I've heard of a bug bite eliciting a sensual response! :)

    Peace and love!

  11. May the best decision for you come readily to you. And may the memories you make in this beautiful place sustain you in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.


  12. What a great story! yay!!

  13. dear Shannon,

    oh, how I LOVE your writing! I am thrilled for you and mark to be able to have such an idyllic get-away-from-it-all wonderful time, and feel certain that your being immersed in celebrating LIFE will bring the answers you are seeking. the doggies - oh, what heaven they must feel being free to romp and scare out the wildlife. it must be a riot just watching all their antics.

    thank you, thank you for the "serpentine" clip! i don't think I've ever laughed more, or for as many times as hugh and i did over the years after seeing that movie - such a brilliant piece of uproarious comedy - I NEEDED THAT!!!

    much love and light, XOXO


  14. Hey, Monkey Me...

    You seem to be in a great great place for such contemplation. You will make the right decision for yourself.

    I love your dogs... arf arf...

    You are in my thoughts, dear...


  15. This place sounds truly peaceful (minus the prices)

    as always your post leave me laughing, crying and feeling the love :))

  16. Sounds so wonderful, a great place to ponder...By the way, you are wrong about the lobster. I woke up from surgery ravenous and after three days of being forcibly restrained by my doctors I was eating EVERYTHING in sight! The only thing you need to worry about is raw fish, and that is because of the chemo, you can get a stomach bug.

  17. That looks and sounds really relaxing! Your cleverness, meter, and humor are back, and I like it a lot! That's a good sign!

  18. This is a truly lovely post, and I am so glad you are having such a peaceful and restorative time in this wonderful setting. This is good medicine for you, whatever choices you make in your journey.

  19. this looks so beautiful!! I don't know much of what's going on but I am wishing you all the best...cos I need to see more pretty pictures and great writing! Very selfish I know.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison