Divorced. I am divorced. I am a divorcee. Yeah, no matter how many times I say it to myself, it’s just bizarre.
Fuck Bill Compton. Fucking cheating bastard. I gave him ten years of my life. I paid his way through dental school and this is how he returns the favor? A big fucking fuck you very much, Sookie. I had already legally taken back my maiden name of Stackhouse.
I’m pretty sure my head was still spinning around like that little girl in the movie. What was it? The Exorcist? He got his fucking hygienist pregnant. I had been on a calculated, double coverage birth control plan because Bill wasn’t ready for a family. Instead he got fucking Lorena pregnant.
My dreams had dissolved in an instant, but it had taken over a year for the divorce to become final. With the papers in hand, I drove up I-94 around Lake Michigan, headed for the only place that I had ever found solace; the cottage.
Three hours after leaving the Chicago traffic behind, I was on the other side of the Lake. I smiled as my Camry drove us closer and closer to the little bungalow that had been in my family for three generations. Bill had hated it here; it should have been a sign.
Nestled in the middle of Saugatuck, Michigan the cottage was my safe haven. It was the setting for many of my fondest memories. Christmas Day snowed in with Gran as a kid, Fourth of July before my senior year of high school, and the Halloween parade just after my twenty-first birthday. Saugatuck and the neighboring village of Douglas had been resort towns for over one-hundred years. In 1910 a group of artists from Chicago established the Summer School of Paintings on Ox-Bow Lagoon to strengthen the connection between the two very different towns. Even now, Ox-Bow remains affiliated with the Art Institute of Chicago.
Saugatuck had several claims to fame, but topping the list were The Dunes and the Waterfront Film Festival (WFF). The Dunes was the largest gay-lesbian resort in the Midwest; thus the annual adults only drunken Halloween Parade. It wasn’t for the faint of heart and it was a blast! The WFF was recognized a few years ago by SAGIndie magazine as the third most popular film festival in the world. Film makers and fans overtook the town every June for four days of cinematic screenings and fun. Saguatuck also boasted art galleries, gift stores, restaurants, fudge shops and three tasting rooms for local wineries. The year round population in Saugatuck was around 3,500 people, but it damn near tripled in the summer; or at least it always seemed that way.
I spent most of my summers there growing up. When I was old enough, I waited tables at The Butler for spending money and soaked in the sun at Oval Beach. I was hoping that the little town could lift my spirits again, the way it always had in my youth. I was banking on it in fact, having sold my condo and started working with a contractor to winterize the house for year round use.
I didn’t know a lot of people in town, but my neighbor, Amelia, grew up in the house next door to my cottage. She and her husband Tray bought it when her parents retired to Florida and I was looking forward to having a close friend nearby. Bill hadn’t wanted to socialize with many of the locals when he came to the cottage. In fact, when he was in town we usually spent time with other FIP’s (Fucking Illinois People). FIP is the local term for the Chicagoans that overtake the city and most of south west Michigan each summer. Bill hated the nickname. He thought the locals should have appreciated the commerce brought in by the summer visitors, but I understood how they felt. I had been in Saugatuck during the off season. It was even more beautiful, with a peacefulness and charm that was completely different than its summer hustle and flow.
I wasn’t surprised by the traffic when I came in off of the highway. It was a gorgeous evening in June, so the busy roads were normal. Even though it was dusk, the shops were open late and there would be live music on the deck at Coral Gables. But as I turned onto Old Allegan Road to head in to the city center, I saw the banner for WFF. My brain had been fuzzy for so long with the big D I didn’t even realize that I was arriving on the opening day of the Festival. Shit.
I hoped Amelia was up to her usual parking scam and was keeping people out of my driveway. I had texted her that the divorce was a done deal and I was on the way, but I had completely zoned out on the fact it was festival week and hadn’t asked about the parking situation.
Coming around the corner onto Hummingbird Lane, I laughed out loud at the site before me. Amelia was camped out in an Adirondack chair on her front lawn with a cooler and a money belt. There was a hand painted sign reading, “WFF Parking $5 – Beer Available w/ Additional Donation.” Cars were lined up in her driveway, as well as the drive of her elderly neighbors on the other side, but my driveway was clear.
I parked and got out to stretch. Shaking my head at Amelia, I hollered, “You better give me a cut if you park cars in my drive!”
“Hey single lady!” she yelled. “I’ll pay you in beers like I always do! Now get your stuff unloaded and come over. I’ll make Tray drag the other chair out front for you!”
Making a couple of trips in and out, I took my suitcases and a few bags and boxes into the house, but I wasn’t planning to spend the night there. The water needed to be turned on since I hadn’t been up yet for the summer, and the weatherization wasn’t quite finished yet. I wanted it to be completed before I officially took up residence, because I didn’t want workmen coming in and out all day under my feet. The cottage was fully furnished in a multi-generational Stackhouse style of accumulated junk, but since I was going to be living here full time, I wanted to make it my own. I had sorted through my things in Chicago, packing what I couldn’t stand to part with, and donating the rest to charity. Since it wouldn’t all fit in my car, I was shipping the remaining things to myself. I planned on splitting my time, until I could officially move in, between the cottage and the Shoreline hotel that was owned by my other neighbors, Ginger and Felicia.
Tray met me in the yard with a cold beer. We sat and talked about the crowds for WFF and the movies showing in the coming days. Amelia was overly excited about a movie screening the next night and begged me to come with her; Tray was more than willing to give up his ticket. We finalized our plans as I finished my beer and I grabbed my overnight bag before walking a few blocks to the hotel.
Apparently, Ginger and Felicia were out of town for the night, so the high school girl behind the desk checked me in. The Shoreline was a quaint little place with a community room for watching television, playing board games and sitting by the fireplace. The Ritz Carlton it was not. The girls had been fixing it up over the years and I needed to take a good look around in the morning, but I wanted nothing more than to sleep, for hours. I had been putting on a brave front, but this whole divorce thing, shudder, had caught up with me. Finding what I needed, I threw my bag in on the dresser, washed my face, brushed my teeth and crawled into bed.
In the morning, I wandered around the common areas of the Shoreline, admiring the new artwork and modifications the girls had made over the last year. Amelia called, saying she had forgotten to tell me, but she signed me up to volunteer with her taking tickets for a few hours in the afternoon for one of the Festival venues.
Grabbing a sandwich from Pumpernickel’s, I wandered back to the cottage. Checking in with the contractor, Hoyt Fortenberry, who told me that he would be done in the next couple of days. I couldn’t wait for the work to be finished. Unpacking my things I lost track of time, and suddenly, I was running late to meet Amelia for our volunteer shift.
We met at our assigned location and relieved the previous volunteers. It was the eleventh year of the Festival and we had volunteered every summer, so we knew the drill. Our three hour time slot flew by. We chatted and giggled like school girls, and she told me about the movie we had tickets for.
We were going to see a comedy starring a pretty famous actor, Eric Northman. He had a lead role in a vampire show on cable called Bloodlust, but still loved doing indie films and an occasional music video when he could. For all his success however, he was a very private person, who shied away from the larger film festivals and red carpet events. Amelia said she heard that he was renting a house on the Lake and would be making an appearance at the screening.
One of the best parts about WFF was the dress code. There was none. It was summertime in Michigan, so casual attire was the way to go, and the Festival was no different. However, I didn’t want to wear my volunteer t-shirt to the movie and whatever we decided to do after, so I ran back to the hotel to freshen up, and change. I was excited. For all of my years a food writer in Chicago, I had never been that close to a celebrity, well except for John Cusack. But first of all, he was from Illinois, so he didn’t count, and secondly, he is a dick in real life. You can ask my friend Nicole, she’ll confirm it.
Did I mention that the population of Saugatuck tripled during the summer? Well, it’s even worse during the Film Festival. Despite my best attempts, I was running late to meet Amelia as I weaved through the crowd. Working my way to the Center for the Arts along with several hundred other people, I tried to take a short cut that only locals would know and dialed Amelia on my phone as I came out of an alley.
Suddenly, I ran into a gigantic something or other, my phone went flying, and I wound up sprawled on the sidewalk. I winced at my scraped hands and elbows and what was certain to be a large goose egg on the back of my head. Looking up into a surprising halo of light, I saw what could only be described as an angel. He gazed back at me with a look of utmost concern.
I held my hand up to shield my eyes from the light shining from over his shoulder. He was tall, or maybe it looked that way because I was on the ground. He had blond hair, a five o’clock shadow and blue eyes that resembled deep pools. Unexpectedly, I realized that we were surrounded by people with cameras and microphones, although none of them were trained on me. The attention was focused on my angel, and he looked especially uncomfortable.
Without ceremony, a large man wearing a headset stepped into the midst of what must have been paparazzi, and began asking them to give us some space. He waved his arms around making some vulgar comments and the vultures seemed to scatter.
Rubbing my head, I tried to piece together what had happened. The beautiful man, God, angel, or whatever he was, squatted down and put a hand on the back of my head, as if feeling for a bump.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, trying to laugh. “Nothing hurt but my pride.”
Honestly, I was embarrassed. My head was killing me, my hands and knees were burning and I wanted to go home.
“Are you sure?” he asked again. “You were out for several seconds.”
What? I was out for a few seconds? What was he talking about?
“No, really, I’m alright. I think I’m just going to go home.”
“Okay. Is there someone there? I mean, you lost consciousness. You shouldn’t be alone.”
Wow, unconscious? Had I really been knocked out? Huh. Weird. Maybe I should be worried. Was there someone at home? I wasn’t sure.
“Um, I’m not sure if anyone’s there.”
“Alright. Hang on,” he said as he stood. “Alcide, I’m kind of worried about her. She’s not sure if anyone’s at home.”
“Oh, yeah. She shouldn’t be alone. You need to get going though, you’re already late,” said the man in the headset, whose name must have been Alcide. “The sharks are circling around the corner waiting for you,” he continued. “I had to call for some extra volunteers. I know you hate it, but there’s going to be a swarm. Let me figure out how to get her home.” He paused and I could almost see him processing his thoughts. “I guess I’ll just take your rental car. I’ll come back for you or get a volunteer to bring you back to your place later.”
“No,” my hero said, looking distraught. “I’ll take her home, Cide. She got knocked out because those damn photographers were following me. I’ll make it up to the Festival people tomorrow or something.”
“But, you said after tonight…”
“I’ll make it up to them,” my savior interrupted with finality.
Alcide didn’t appear to like that idea, but shrugged and began talking into his headset as if we weren’t there.
My knight in shining armor extended a hand and helped me up. I dusted off, thinking that I must look like a complete ass in front of this deity of a man who was clearly important with all of the media following him and an assistant doing his bidding.
“I’ll take you home,” he said. “I want to make sure someone is there so you’re not alone. Is that okay?”
With a nod from me, he put his hand on my back and lowered his head, as if shielding his face from passers-by, escorting me down a side street. We got into a red Corvette that made me laugh, because Alcide had called it a rental. Who rents a Corvette? He looked familiar, but my head was still smarting, so I didn’t think about it. He started the car and turned the on the air-conditioning before giving me a shy smile.
“Alright,” he said. “Can you give me directions to your place?”
“Yeah,” I started, but then I realized I couldn’t. “I mean, I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Give me a minute hottie, I’m thinking. Fuck. I have no idea where I live. Do I live in town?
“Wow. I can’t remember.”
“Alright, that’s okay. Let’s try something a little easier. What’s your name?”
Oh, good. This is an easy one. Or, it should be. Ohmygod. What’s my name? Ohmygod.
“Fuck,” I said, starting to cry. “I have no idea.”
Squeeee! Yup, I went there, I really did. AmnesiaSookie!
Um. (Bites nails) So what do you think? Push the button, you know you want to, and give me some feedback! Thanks in advance, you know I love review crack. ~grin!~
Below are the links to pertinent info – you have to remove the spaces (and the playlist that I started! LOL).
Picture of Alexander Skarsgard at Golden Globes inspires Lifetime movie in my Head by Mandi Bierly
http: /popwatch . ew . com/2010/01/19/alexander-skarsgard-golden-globes/ If Mandi’s linke doesnt work, try this one. (It’s a great blog you check out anyway!) http:/sookiestackhouse . com/?p=4819
www . saugatuck . com
Waterfront Film Festival
www . waterfrontfilmfestival . org
http:/douglasdunes . com/