Have you ever found yourself doing something and had the stunning realization that you are, in fact, a grown-up?
Like the first time you get behind the wheel of a car by yourself. Or when you put down the safety deposit on your very own apartment. Or when the D.A. tells you that you’re going to be tried as an adult.
The swift punch of adulthood is both terrifying and wonderful, isn’t it? Every now and then it still hits me.
It happened again just the other week, during our annual trip down to Ashland. Because of a hotel mishap (that is well documented on this site) we decided to spend one night in Jacksonville, at the Touvelle House Bed and Breakfast.
It was a travel first for both me and Rand. Despite the fact that we’re a married couple in our 30s, we had never visited a B&B – even though I’m pretty sure B&Bs were invented specifically for married couples in their 30s. They won’t even let you in unless you can remember a time before Madonna spoke with an English accent.
Which makes sense, because prior to the ripe old age that I now am, I never understood the appeal of such a place. I first heard about the concept of a B&B when I was 11 or so, and was suitably horrified.
They give you a bed, I thought, and breakfast, and nothing else?
Dear GOD, people, WHAT IF YOU NEED A SNACK?
Compared to the cushy situation I had at home (bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the unofficial title of Despot of the Fridge) a B&B seemed like a terrible deal. But the passing of the years have given me a great number of gifts: itsy bitsy wrinkles around my eyes, the habit of wandering into a room and forgetting why I went there in the first place, a love of Jeopardy!, and, most importantly of all, perspective. I now realize that B&Bs are glorious … if somewhat strange.
You are, essentially, staying in someone’s house. They give you your own room and bathroom, and a key. You can come and go as you please, but you should be on time for breakfast. It’s sort of like staying with a very fastidious aunt who respects your privacy, but also expects you to pay for every night you are in her home.
And true to this metaphor, I felt guilty for leaving clothing lying around the room. I felt like I should offer to help with the dishes. I wanted to apologize that we couldn’t stay longer. B&Bs are clearly not for the neurotic at heart. But despite my psychoses, our stay was really pleasant.
Judge Frank Touvelle had the house built in 1916 as a wedding present for his wife. It is gorgeous and positively massive:
And the gardens were lovely.
It’s downright idyllic.
I wasn’t so sure about the neighbors, though.
That’s right: the Touvelle House is right next door to A CEMETERY. And I know I just went on and on about how I felt so grown-up staying at a B&B, but let’s be honest: I’m a 9-year-old at heart. Consequently, I found the proximity to the Jacksonville Cemetery to be both exciting and creepy beyond words. Rand comforted me with the fact that I had just undergone brain surgery, so zombies would probably be far less interested in me than they would be anyone else. (I appreciate that he no longer tries the “zombies don’t exist” line of reasoning, because he’s realized that doesn’t work.)
We stayed in the Crater Lake Room, high up at the top of the stairs. Hiking all the way up there with all our luggage is as close as my pear-shaped form will ever come to reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. Or, for that matter, reaching the summit of anything. Fortunately, Gary, one of the owners of the Touvelle House, was kind enough to act as sherpa, lugging much of our stuff up there for us.
I was somewhat worried that, since it was nearly hitting triple digits outside, our small room would be sweltering hot, but to our relief we had our own dedicated air conditioner. It pumped out icy air while I napped (let’s pretend because of the residual effects of my surgery and not just because climbing all those stairs was tiring).
We had a view out onto the gardens and even the pool, the latter of which we didn’t even know existed until our arrival.
Unfortunately, the freakish amount of sunlight the windows let in was, for my Seattle-dwelling husband and I, a trifle unbearable.
The walls of our suite were covered in old postcards and pictures of Crater Lake, which is about a two-and-a-half hour’s drive away.
This decorating move, however, was just cruel:
An empty ice cream pie box. Just sitting there. It was a continual reminder of the fact that I had no ice cream pie. Adding insult to injury, the box was RIGHT NEXT TO THE BED, which is one of my favorite places to eat pie (or it would be, if Rand would only let me).
Fortunately, despite the dearth of pie, there were plenty of other yummy things to eat at the Touvelle House. Breakfast was generous and delicious – egg souffle, yogurt with berries, homemade banana bread. I would have taken photos, but I thought it might seem impolite, so you’ll have to take my word for it. We ate at a large table with the other guests. It was kind of like one huge awkward (yet not entirely unpleasant) first date.
Other than my few small complaints, the Touvelle House was a delight. When we had to pack up for Ashland, we both were sad to leave.
“This place is almost perfect,” I said. “Except for the risk of zombies.”
Rand looked me square in the eye and asked me if I thought that was a reasonable criticism.
I nodded yes, mostly just to see him smile and shake his head. Because staying at a B & B might have made me feel like a grown-up, but that didn’t mean I had to act like one.