Chapter Twelve: Waiting for the End
“Whoa! Whoa, whoa!” Eric raised up his hands in surrender.
The woman eyed them suspiciously, hoe still thrust towards them, though with somewhat less fervor. She said something they couldn’t comprehend. When they shook their heads, she repeated in English, “What you want?”
“We’re only looking!” cried Ginny. “It’s a beautiful place. We just wanted to see it up close.”
The woman lowered her hoe, but her look of skepticism was harder to shake.
“I love the windows and the garden and it seems like it could be such a happy place, but, you know, it’s just sitting kind of lonely. Does anybody live here or own it?” Ginny realized she was rambling, but couldn’t stop herself.
“Maybe yes, maybe no. You say you like?”
“Oh yes,” gushed Ginny. “It could be so wonderful! It…it speaks to me.”
At this, the old woman visibly relaxed and broke into a wide, toothless grin. “Oh-kay! Why you not say?” She laughed uproariously.
Ginny and Eric glanced at each other, unsure what was so funny. But the woman fumbled in her pocket and pulled out a large set of keys. “You like, I show.”
She waddled over to the front door, fussed at the lock, then pushed on the door. It stuck for a moment before giving way.
“You own this place?” asked Ginny.
“Not so much.”
Eric cocked an eyebrow. “What does that mean?”
“Eh, the woman who own, she is my friend. But she die and the family in Bucharest, they no take care.”
They walked into a wide, open foyer that lead to an airy sitting room. Past the sitting room sat a cozy, sunlit kitchen and another open space with double doors leading to another garden in the back. Ginny was transfixed. She ran her hands over the beautiful carved wood counters, envisioning the cinnamon and vanilla infused baked goods that would come from the antique oven. She could see hanging flowers along the bright windows and plush couches arranged in comfortable and conversational ways.
A chandelier hung over the staircase. With some work at dusting, that chandelier could gleam so prettily, thought Ginny as she climbed the stairs to see the four bedrooms above. Two had private bathrooms; the other two shared a third bath. That would make for a great family space, Ginny caught herself thinking as possibilities for a bed and breakfast danced before her eyes.
“Hey, Red, come check this out!”
Ginny danced her way downstairs. Eric was already in the backyard. She followed him outside. “What’s up?”
He pointed to a smaller cottage in the back. “Maid’s quarters?”
“No way,” breathed Ginny.
The old woman pulled out another key and opened up the cottage for them. It was a perfect little space with a bedroom, and a living room with a fireplace and romantic nook and window seat. Ginny twirled around on the hardwood floors. “Oh this place is delicious!”
The old woman grinned. “You like? You buy!”
Ginny laughed. “That would be amazing, but I’m sure I couldn’t afford something like this.” Not to mention it’s in friggin’ Romania, she thought to herself.
Eric sent her a scrutinizing look, then asked the woman, “How much?”
“One ninety-five thousand? Lei?”
She nodded vigorously and grinned. “Yes. One nigh-tee towsand lei.”
Ginny looked at Eric. “What’s that in dollars?”
“Three to the dollar…you’re looking at sixty-three grand.”
It was a punch to her gut. “Sixty three thousand?”
“Give or take.”
Sixty-three thousand, give or take, was exactly what she had saved up as a nest egg. She’d have to cash in some investments, but yeah, she could swing it. And yet, a small part of her died a little at the thought. It had been money she’d saved for a child, imagining college, private music or horse-riding lessons…. It was secret money; she hadn’t even told Michael. It was going to be a surprise for him when they got pregnant. But then that had never happened. And then they had found out it couldn’t happen. Yet Ginny never stopped putting money away, for some part of her, beyond all reason, had never given up. She wasn’t sure she’d ever feel ready to give up.
They thanked the woman and headed back towards the road. Just as they reached the gate, the woman called out to them. They turned, and she waddled up to Ginny and took her hand into her own, soft, cool, wrinkled one. She said something in Romanian. At Ginny’s puzzled look, the woman squeezed her hand and repeated the words, then let go.
“Oh-kay! Bye-bye!” She waved, smiled her wide, toothless grin, and took her leave.
“What did she say?” wondered Ginny.
Eric shrugged. “No idea.”
They stayed together in Sibiu for several more days, but Ginny could not stop thinking about the place. Visions of a bed and breakfast kept dancing in her head. When she wasn’t thinking about the house, though, she thought about Eric. Their time together was quickly coming to an end. In two days he would catch a transfer to St. Petersburg and she would continue on to Bucharest. She couldn’t decipher her feelings. They hadn’t slept together since the incident, but instead fallen into a calm ease with each other. There was no more heady rush of lust, but when she looked at him, she felt a glowing warmth in her chest. Here was someone to love.
But if she was honest with herself, she wasn’t in love with him. And the thought of trying to fit in his lifestyle? Laughable. She was all cozy comforts and planning and predictability. He was off someplace new every other week. He was a man destined to roam. No, he needed someone more adventurous. Someone game for spontaneity. Someone like…
“I wish you could meet my friend, Dee.”
Eric lowered his newspaper. “Oh yeah? How so?”
Ginny smiled and shrugged “Nothing, it’s just…I think you two would get along really well.”
He went back to reading and Ginny marveled at her newfound understanding. After all she had been through with Michael, it was empowering to learn she could love so well. She had learned to love freely and openly. No strings, no limitations, no pressure for commitment and no drive to force a romance out of something that didn’t fit. She could see the beauty in a person and love them for who they were, simply and without complication. Loving someone does not always mean marrying him. There are all kinds of love and ways and reasons to love someone, and it takes something much bigger than “maybe I should” to truly commit.
It felt as if a burden had been lifted and it gave her hope that when the right one came along, she could see it for what it was, and not be distracted by all the wrong ones. After Michael, she learned the right one was worth waiting for. After Eric, she learned she was worth waiting for.(to be continued…)