Phew! We’re plowing through the WEALTH of memories that my mama and I shared on the island of Nantucket, and I just have to say ‘thank you’ once more for joining us for this very special time. Just to remind you of what we’re doing, for my mom’s 65th birthday, I wanted to set aside a month or two to write down all of our stories from her 64th birthday trip, and it has been so fun to have you all along for the journey. (If you need to catch up, here is Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five). Your kind words and excitement about the blessing we enjoyed means so much to me. What grace and love you have shown!
Gah, I can’t believe it has been over a week since I posted Part Five; HOW I would love to get these installments out faster, but…I just can’t, apparently. In fact, the reason I first published three posts in one week is because two of my four kids were throwing up all week and I didn’t leave my house for seven days. Ha! All that to say, thank you for your patience as you wait for each part of this story. That you are still here and still engaged just blows me away.
Okay, I am SUPER excited for today’s post. Just…go get you a cup of tea or coffee and cozy up for this one. I think I’ll do the same!..
So Nantucket Proper was fantastic, wasn’t it?
Do you remember that moment when my mom and I first left Union Street Inn and were making our way down the sidewalk toward Nantucket’s Main Street? And I said how much I love to go back in my mind during that point because I had NO idea what great things were in store for us, just around the corner?
Well, that same reality, TIMES ONE THOUSAND for this next portion!!!
I’m actually laughing right now, just thinking about it.
Okay, and maybe crying, just a ‘lil.
All the emotions, mostly.
Because, when we had wrapped up our second day of shopping and adventuring and sightseeing in the main part of Nantucket and had returned to Union Street to gather our bags (and have an impromptu prayer meeting with our new friends!), and then began our trek down the streets to find the jitney that would drive us to our next place of lodging, we had no idea…NO IDEA!!!!!…what was in store for us.
I mean, it felt special enough that the place to which we were going had its very own jitney (aka shuttle), one that came to town on the hour to pick up guests and left town on the half hour to return to the resort.
You have to be pretty important to have your own jitney, don’t you?
I’ve never had my own jitney, that’s for sure.
But, then, I had KNOWN this place was important the first time I saw its website; I didn’t know how to pronounce the name of it at the time – “The Wauwinet” – but it wouldn’t matter, because I was struck speechless.
However, unlike my dramatic internet experience with the Union Street Inn, where I had “instinctively known” we HAD to stay there, the only instinct I had when I saw this new place was that I knew I WANTED to stay there.
But there was no way that would ever happen.
Because it was unreal.
A little TOO unreal for us, if you know what I mean, in that it was a level or two…or ten, maybe…above our heads. It looked like a place that Martha Stewart might live. Or a place that would be featured in a magazine that we couldn’t afford.
You know the ones I’m talking about, right? Those gorgeous magazines that cost $7 to $10 that you can rarely talk yourself into buying, even though you want to…Veranda, and the like…magazines that feature houses and hotels that you wouldn’t even pin on your Pinterest “Dream House” board because they are so out of your reach?
Enter “The Wauwinet”.
The only Relais & Châteaux member in Nantucket (I still don’t know what that means, really, other than fancy!!), housing the top-rated restaurant in all of Massachusetts, just the very pictures of this place screamed luxury and perfection.
Situated on a sprawling private property, hugged by the coast and completely saturated with beauty and care and tranquility, I took one look at the pictures on the website and my mouth went tee-totally dry. It was one of those things that, once you see it, you can’t UNSEE it, but, like, in a good way.
And even as I initially shrugged it off as a pipe dream, I went to bed that night with dreams of The Wauwinet sort of pumping through my blood.
It was calling to me, like a mythical siren calls to the captain.
“Come to meeeeee…” it hissed. “Even though you are a poor pastor’s wife who sells granola to buy cardigans, you beeeelonnnnng heeeere. Your mommyyyy deserrrrrrrves it…”
I’m telling you, I was sort of stuck after seeing this website — it was dug down deep in my heart — and so I did the only logical thing there was to do and I passed the siren call on to my mom.
We looked at the website together. We daydreamed about staying there with a view of the ocean from our window. We talked about our other options and how we really wanted to spend our week.
And, with these things in mind, we made a decision.
Remember our Nantucket motto?
We had all these credit card rewards piled up, we had birthday money from all the family, we were here for four short nights, we might never leave Oklahoma again…
GO BIG OR GO HOME, MAN.
So, laugh out LOUD, we went SO BIG.
Thus, after that first night at the Union Street Inn, the remainder of our stay in Nantucket would be at…that’s right…THE Wauwinet.
Even the locals we talked to about where we were staying were amazed.
By the way, you pronounce it like this — I know now because I’m an insider — Wah-WIN-it.
Now, get ready, because you’re not going to believe this place. Seriously. Just…eek!…squeal!…giggles!…I’m excited.
Now…where was I in our story?
Oh yes, the foyer of the Union Street Inn. We had prayed with our new friends, we’d said our goodbyes and, loading ourselves down with our tote bags and purses, we lugged our suitcases behind us down the sidewalk, their wheels really making a ruckus on those brick and cobblestone streets.
It was a tourist-y moment, one that I did not completely relish, only because it proved to Nantucket that we two gals did not belong, reminding me that I was a stranger in this town, a backpacker, a sojourner. And here I had been feeling like a regular…
But it was also fun, in a way, setting out with my best friend like this to try and find our next adventure. We weren’t quite sure where we were going, which is actually very normal; even in our own stomping ground, we’re not quite sure where we are going.
Without taking too many wrong turns, though — the hefty load we were carrying motivated us to pay close attention! — we found the Visitor Center which was, not surprisingly, precious and perfect, just like the rest of this magical land.
Peeking through the darling door, we were instructed to have a seat at one of the outside benches and our jitney would soon be arriving.
We were naturally atwitter. What was this REALLY going to be like? Would we regret leaving the beautiful-but-relate-able Union Street Inn? Was The Wauwinet going to be too fancy for us? What if we looked like hillbillies compared to everyone else? What if all the socialites noticed that my suitcase was from J.C. Penney instead of Louis Vuitton? Would we be sad that we had tied ourselves down to a remote area for the rest of our stay, instead of bunking in town? What if this place was all show, a fancy website, but I don’t know…haunted?! In disrepair? Situated right next to a pig farm?!?! Did they even have pigs in Nantucket??
My feet were tapping beneath me, excited, homeless, and, after our long day afoot, ready to find a place to rest.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long; about five minutes before it was due, a shiny, black bus turned the corner onto our street and I made out the words “The Wauwinet” tastefully inscribed on its side.
Mom and I looked at each other and grinned. This was it. Our jitney had arrived! Roll out the red carpet and take us to our resort, maestro!!
It felt as though we were on the brink of a STORY, and my blood flowed to the siren call once more.
“Coooommeee to meeeeee, Mrs. Gore and Mother!!! Luxury awaaaaittsss…”
A smiling driver quickly emerged from the jitney, and I instantly relaxed. His skin was dark and beautiful, and he greeted us like family, the accent of Jamaica delighting our ears.
“I will load your bags,” he said, taking our suitcases to the back, “and you can sit inside or on the bench while I get my lunch around the corner, wherever you are most comfortable. We will leave on the half hour.”
We opted for inside, and he opened the door of the jitney for us and helped us in. The seats were low and clean and…I was nervous again, all of a sudden. How unusual it was for an unapologetic homebody to be hopping about from adventure to adventure like this! How did I even GET here??
Oh, yeah. The tiny plane.
My mom, though, was still smiling like a child, and I could almost hear the melody of her youth rocking through that adventurous head of hers.
“How different we are,” I mused, “but so well suited to one another. When did we switch places like this, she the girl who wants to see the world and I the one who wants to keep us away from strangers and dangers? Or…were we always like this, deep down, and I just didn’t notice?…”
Before I had too much time to think, our driver returned and, still smiling with an apparent enjoyment in his work, took his place in the driver seat.
“Would you like a drink for the drive?” he asked. “It will be twenty minutes before our arrival at The Wauwinet.”
We accepted and, reaching down into the ice chest next to his seat, he handed us each a cold bottle of water, along with a paper cocktail napkin. “It’s the little things…” I thought, receiving this gift, and I had the tingly feeling that we were about to REALLY be taken care of. Maybe like we’d never been taken care of before…
You know, my mom might not believe she deserves anything, an attitude that I am trying to mirror as I grow, but I think she deserves the world, and as we made our way down the streets and then the highways of Nantucket, I slowly began to rest in this amazing blessing that she was surely about to receive. This was her time, her gift, her MOMENT!!!
It was everything I’d ever wanted to give her, but couldn’t.
As such, I couldn’t stop smiling, either.
I was surprisingly finding a home, of sorts, in this place that I never would have sought out on my own, and the blessing was mine, too, but I don’t ever want to forget how completely and utterly focused my heart and mind were on my mama for these five days and four nights; it was a deeply spiritual experience and I was nigh unto bursting with love for her. Her joy was my joy, and then some. I was her happy companion in this place. Her sidekick. Her supporting actress.
And I was having the time of my life!
The drive was indeed twenty minutes, on the button, and it was beautiful. Fresh air was blowing through our row of screened windows, and it was interesting to see that, on the main road with no ocean in sight, the countryside was actually quite familiar. A two-lane highway with trees and fields, sort of like Oklahoma…yet the ocean was just out there, somewhere.
It could have been home, but…no, we were on an island! An ISLAND!! How amazing. How…terrifying! For me, at least. Mom, not so much.
After miles of highway, the jitney took a left turn and, with no further ado, we found ourselves entering the private property of The Wauwinet.
the dazzling place on the internet was now right in front of my eyes and I felt as though I was stepping through the mirror into a place that couldn’t REALLY exist with the rest of the stuff in this world. We had crossed into the Great Beyond, I just knew it.
My skin was literally prickling. This jitney we were in…this inn where we were staying…this entire TRIP…was just not something that two averages Janes get to do very often, if ever.
“Thank you, God,” I whispered. Like a wedding day, my heart was imparting to me the acute realization that this was a “once in a lifetime” sort of moment and that I’d better pay very close attention.
We pulled to a stop outside of a sprawling thee-story estate, the doors were opened, and another man, smiling graciously, extended a hand to escort us out of the bus while the driver retrieved all of our items.
My mouth dropped open as I stepped forward and surveyed the perfectly-manicured front entrance. The pictures I had gazed at endlessly in the planning stages of our trip were coming to vivid life in front of me, and to embrace the scene with all of my senses at one time instead of just my sight, to see and know that this fairyland was actually real and right in front of me…it was just too much.
It’s funny, I only see bright lights in my memory as I try to recall exactly what this side of The Wauwinet looked like – I was blinded, I think, by the glory of it! – but I DO remember seeing a long line of green Hunter rainboots on the front porch, available for guests who wanted to go adventuring.
“Well done…” I nodded, passing by them as we entered through the large and welcoming front door. It was my first time to ever tip my hat to a boot, but what can I say? I was impressed.
We found ourselves immediately in a spacious foyer that housed the most beautiful check-in counter I’ve ever seen and, as the staff carried all of our belongings – all of them, not just our suitcases – up the open staircase to the left, we stood and made the acquaintance of the manager on duty, a precious young man who was obviously amused by the exuberance we displayed about every amenity of which he made us aware.
“You have a movie library??”
“You’ll bring us hot, buttered POPCORN?”
“There are blankets we can use in the chaise lounges out front??”
“You’ll bring us COFFEE? Anytime we want it???”
“This place is amazing!!!”
We were laughing and clapping like schoolgirls, so excited, which made him laugh, and I knew that, even though we might not be the type of guest that The Wauwinet was most accustomed to, we were going to have a fun time here. I think both of us determined then and there not to worry about how middle-class we were or how Oklahoman and to just be us, and to show love and kindness and gratitude to everyone we met.
I noticed as the week went on that the front desk workers grinned so big when they saw us coming. “Oh boy, here come the enthusiastic girls…” they seemed to say.
Likewise, we also made some friends on the other side of the spectrum that week, including some businessmen and their wives from Boston, and it all just reminded me that people are people and a smile goes a long way toward easing through perceived barriers. It was a good life lesson, one I hope that I’ll remember.
And, oh!! I’m telling you, for the rest of our time in Nantucket, our every need and want was seen to by this eager and attentive staff. After the manager gave us the run-down and handed over our keys, our personal concierge (!!!!!!!), Damian, escorted us to our room and showed us around, promising his devoted service for the rest of our trip.
After conversing with him for some time about his homeland of Jamaica, he left to order us some ice (which was soon delivered in a beautiful copper bucket, with a matching scoop. A COPPER BUCKET!!! Have you ever?), and we found ourselves alone.
Shutting the door behind him, my mom and I finally had the liberty to really SQUEAL!!! This place was a dream! And our spacious and airy room was DIVINE!!
Two taller-than-life queen sized beds completely dressed in brilliantly white linens with a softness to their lines that belied lots of lots of feathers underneath.
A Bose radio on the nightstand between us.
A line of shuttered windows that let in seaside light and beauty.
A beautifully appointed sitting area, including a floral sofa, a cozy armchair, a flat-screen wall-mounted television, and a hand-painted armoire.
Cleanliness and luxury, all about.
And, for the rest of the week, it was OURS, with no chores or responsibilities attached to any of it. Just enjoyment.
Golly, do you know what? I’m feeling rather intimidated, actually, now that I’m trying to sit down and tell this part of our story.
How can I aptly describe this heaven-on-earth without making it seem like I am a thesaurus for superlatives?
How can I express all the emotions, the joy, the kinship that my mom and I experienced in this out-of-the-way place on the map?
The best way I can describe it is that, at The Wauwinet, hemmed in by the sea on two sides, it felt very much like we had found the edge of the world, just Mama and me.
And this is where the biggest joy of our trip came in because, not only were we free, for a moment…free from responsibility, from stress, from chores… as we’ve rehashed our trip, we have discovered that we also…somehow…miraculously…blessedly…unexpectedly…both felt free from sin.
It was as if, for one tiny week during this journey of life, my mom and I got to stop outside of time for a bit, outside of the fall of man, and wade in the shores of eternity.
We get these tastes of Eden all the time…at birthday parties, in shared laughter, at Sunday morning worship…but this was more than a taste. It was a feast. A week-long feast.
There was no fear of man in my heart. No comparison. No jealousy. No worrying about what people were thinking of me. No worrying about all the ways I’m failing. No keeping our friendship under a bushel. No selfishness. No pride. No self-loathing. No nothin’.
And on top of all these things that weren’t, were all the things there WERE, namely, an abundance of love the likes of which I have rarely experienced; it was all give and no take, on both sides. It was perfect communion, the kind that can only be found in Christ and that I’m so exceedingly grateful to share with my mama.
And so, yes, I loved the decor, I loved the chaise lounges in the back, I loved the private beach, I loved the coffee in carafes and the little bowls of sugar…
but I really loved having a place where the dearest friendship that I’ve had…the one that has been most true, the one that has been the easiest and the most constant and consistently mutual…could flourish and rest and commune and meditate and thrive.
Our hearts were dancing, I tell you.
Dancing in Nantucket.
Now…how about some pictures?!?
Here is our room, a big, comfy bed for each of us:
Sigh…I want to go to there. Note the small box of treats next to the pillow, along with a set of personalized stationery for each of us bearing a watercolor print of The Wauwinet.
Our sitting room, which had plenty of room for Mom, me, AND my giant Nantucket hair.
The armoire! Pretty, pretty.
Fresh flowers in the hallways. There were also bowls of complimentary green apples peppered throughout the inn…
Can I sigh again? Here is the library. This room smelled amazing…their fireplace logs had magic in them, I think…and we spent a lot of time in here. You’ll see more pics of this room in a minute.
Are you ready to see the best part of The Wauwinet, the true highlight of our entire stay in Nantucket?
The huge lawn, with rows of chaise lounges, where lodgers could sit and watch the ocean, the sunrise, the back of their eyelids…
during the daytime, you could pretty much find us here, wrapped up in blankets, snoozing, reading, taking deep, gulping breaths of Nantucket air, and pretending like this was our permanent residence. The staff even brought us coffee here, in a carafe that I have long coveted at Williams Sonoma.
This was Mom’s first sight of the place…I think she liked it. 🙂
From the lounges, the ocean was straight ahead, and then this was our view to the right. I swear that’s not a painting.
Home sweet home. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
A pristine boardwalk led from the yard down to the dock where the Wauwinet Lady dropped off restaurant guests from town or took lodgers on excursions. We never boarded The Lady during our stay, one of our only regrets during our trip.
Mom was pretty excited just to stroll down the boardwalk like a lady of leisure. 🙂
Another seating area closer to the ocean. Told ya this looked like a place Martha Stewart might hang out.
More pictures from the dock and boardwalk:
After a little poking around, we headed quickly back to the yard where two blankets were procured so we could sit and watch the sun go down.
This was our heaven-on-earth…we’d found it!…and we couldn’t get over it.
Hours were spent in those chairs, but when the sun had sufficiently set each night, we’d secret back to our room, share the sandwich we had bought on the cheap that day in town (keep in mind that “cheap” in Nantucket is a relative word), change into our lounging clothes, and skip like children down to the library where a fire was deliciously crackling and perfectly complementing the fresh, chilly seaside air that was permeating the entire inn.
we usually had the place to ourselves every night
and we read until our hearts were full which, with a good Jan Karon book, doesn’t take too awful long. Mom had scored a galley copy of Jan’s new book that was being released that week (“Come Rain or Come Shine”) in the town’s (amazing) bookshop and, though I was one book behind her (“Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good”), we were both SO happy to be in Mitford with Father Tim and the whole gang. We’ve spent countless hours in Mitford over the years, Mama and I, and it added to our trip in a very special way.
When we had our fill of reading each night, we would go upstairs, take showers and put on our pajamas, order some hot, buttered popcorn (that arrived wrapped up in cloth napkins in a ceramic tureen) and watch an episode of BBC’s “Emma”, which was another shared highlight of our trip. How we laughed at that show together, thrilled to our toes. It was especially funny to us because Emma’s father, scared of everything and always preventing Emma from going to the seaside, was very reminiscent of yours truly.
Before it was too very late in the night — we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to get good sleep — we’d turn off our lamps and nestle down into the cocoon of quality sheetage and feathers that I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate at home.
But that’s okay because, though I fancied the notion from time to time, The Wauwinet wasn’t home.
It was a four-day paradise, the very fulfillment of the word “holiday”.
And what a jolly holiday it was.
(It was) a day of sheer delight, one of those magical times that are not forgotten while life lasts, a time when it seems as though nothing can go wrong, as though human imperfection were aided and sustained by something outside itself, and just for once allowed to bring to perfection everything that it attempted.”
I have more pictures of our stay at The Wauwinet that you’ll see in the days to come – this was just our first day! Until then, check out the gorgeous website here. Thank you so much for joining me today – stay tuned for our next adventure, where I watched with tear-filled eyes as my mama found the beach of her heart. ❤
And you can always keep up with the Gore family on Facebook!