As gung-ho as one may be to see the world and to witness all that there is upon the broad face of this intriguing planet, in the end we see it through a porthole.
I am seated in our open-concept condominium at the dining room table adjoining our living room staring through a panel of five windows covering about 12 feet in width and 4 feet in height plus a sliding patio door at the corner of the room. I am watching a fishing trawler pass before me in Calibogue Cay about three hundred yards beyond. The view is interrupted (though not blocked) by scraggly sea pine trees, palmetto ferns and the sand dune crested by stout prickly leafy bushes. Then it’s the seashore and the blurred sound of the crashing waves. On the other side of the Cay as far to left and to the right as I can see is the shore of Daufuskie Island. Further to the south is the huge horizon and the Atlantic Ocean. We’re at the bottom tip of Hilton Head Island facing directly west where the sun sets (though every sunset is different depending upon the cloud formations, fog or clarity of the air, temperature and wind).
A moment ago the telephone rang. It was a real estate agent from Jekyll Island. We had been there recently and expressed an interest in a new so-called cottage overlooking the Ocean. The agent inappropriately began by insinuating that she had not heard back from us regarding our enquiry. This immediately put our backs up. We had not only indicated our intentions in the clearest terms to the associate to whom the agent had initially referred us but also had confirmed the details at the time of our viewing by email to both her and her associate. We were then treated to further drivel about mercurial seasonal rates, her alleged prospect of renting the unit for a full year to another party who had subsequently withdrawn, her feigning not to know how long we intended to rent (though she hastily read our historic email as we spoke) and – when all that failed to move us – a protestation that she had been terribly busy or confused or disrupted over the holiday season. I was quick to assure her that none of that was of any interest. The unfavourable comparison of this person’s frippery with the professionalism of our current estate agent on Hilton Head Island could not have been more pronounced! Relying as we do upon our native instinct, we summarily concluded in our own minds that there was no likelihood at all of any business relationship ensuing between us. I did however avoid an outright rejection of the possibility for the sole reason that I wished to know the terms upon which the unit might be available. She said she would try to get back to us today or whenever…I told her I’d believe it when I see it. Parenthetically when she got back to us with her quotation of the rental price for 5½ months, her calculations were in error by over US$3,000 in favour of the owners! To add to the glare of the blunder and to further diminish her standing in our eyes she blamed the oversight on the owners! The cumulative effect of her incompetence was impossible to ignore! I was actually embarrassed for her! Any claim she may have had to the dignity of agency or as a fiduciary had completely dissolved.
Another sailboat dreamily passes by silhouetted by the glaring sun on the sea. CBC “Ici Musique” streams its soothing classical music. As much as I abhor conflict of any description, it invigorates me to have survived that tactless and devious debate with the bungling agent. Plus it reaffirms the strength of our present commitments. Meanwhile a balmy wind blows through the patio door. I checked the Tide Chart. We have targeted 3:30 pm today as an opportune time to pedal on the beach.
“Let’s sit down a moment,” said Hewet. He spread his coat on the ground. “Let’s sit down and consider.” They sat down and looked out over the bay; it was very still, the sea was rippling faintly, and lines of green and blue were beginning to stripe it. There were no sailing boats as yet, but a steamer was anchored in the bay, looking very ghostly in the mist; it gave one unearthly cry, and then all was silent.
Rachel occupied herself in collecting one grey stone after another and building them into a little cairn; she did it very quietly and carefully.
“And so you’ve changed your view of life, Rachel?” said Helen.
Rachel added another stone and yawned. “I don’t remember,” she said, “I feel like a fish at the bottom of the sea.” She yawned again. None of these people possessed any power to frighten her out here in the dawn, and she felt perfectly familiar even with Mr. Hirst.”
Excerpt From: Virginia Woolf “The Voyage Out”