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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:

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And the gardens were lovely.

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It’s downright idyllic.

Yup. There are even baby deer frolicking about. No, I’m not kidding.

I wasn’t so sure about the neighbors, though.

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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).

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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.

The view out our bathroom window. And for the record, NO, I do NOT think you could make it into the pool if you jumped from here. #voiceofreason

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Unfortunately, the freakish amount of sunlight the windows let in was, for my Seattle-dwelling husband and I, a trifle unbearable.

I woke up a little before 7 a.m. the next morning, to the sunlight gently filtering in our room and a handful of birds singing beautifully. It was horrible.

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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.

Me: “Oh my god. It’s called the Crater Lake room, and it’s covered in pictures of Crater lake. Isn’t that a CRAZY coincidence?” / Rand: “I’m fairly sure that was intentional.” / Me: “Suuuure it was.”

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This decorating move, however, was just cruel:

I understand that it’s vintage and all, but an EMPTY ice cream pie box? That’s just  HEARTBREAKING.

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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.

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Comments (18)

  1. 1
    Carmel says:

    We stayed at a B&B in Napa and it was a weird experience. Your room there is so much less foofy than ours was. It was actually pretty nice and the staff there was pleasant…especially when they brought us fresh watermelon while we sat next to the pool. But when I stumbled in somewhat drunk after a nice dinner, I did feel a little awkward. Especially when I was on the phone with a friend and people wanted us to sit down and chat with them. All I wanted to do was go to our room, put on my pajamas and fall asleep to the tv…which is exactly what I did.

  2. 2

    Some friends of ours just bought a house across the street from a cemetery. They keep talking about having a house-warming party, but we’d have to spend the night if we went (though I’m sure I wouldn’t sleep a wink.) I get chills just thinking about it! I wonder if Michael Jackson’s Thriller video has anything to do with the zombie fear? It certainly terrified me as a kid!

  3. 3
    Nicole says:

    Ohhh…I love B&B’s (yes, I’m in my late 30′s).

    In fact, it’s similar to one that we stayed at in Maine last spring – the Berry Manor. It’s not next to a cemetery, but everything else is almost exacty the same, except for one major difference.

    The Berry Manor has fresh pies (blueberry, blackberry and cherry) available all day long and you can just go into the kitchen and eat and eat and eat. That’s right – you can eat as much pie as you want , anytime you want, day or night — it’s pie heaven!

    So, if you ever make it to Rockland Maine, promise me you’ll go!

    (Glad you’re feeling better, by the way!)

    • 3.1
      Natalie says:

      Now I am bummed. I just got back from Rockland. Well, actually I was on North Haven, which was awesome but I didn’t have pie.

  4. 4
    Dr. Pete says:

    “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.”

    That’s the best thing I’ve read all week.

  5. 5
    CatCatAttack says:

    My “swift punch of adulthood” usually starts with noticing a kid run through the room.
    One of my kids.

  6. 6
    Hihankara says:

    Our bedroom overlooks a cemetery. I love it, actually! It’s a beautiful, well maintained park that never hosts loud parties, and I can take my cat for a walk there (she’s leash trained) without fear of someone’s poodle trying to eat her. Seriously – better a cemetery than a gas station / meth lab / nudist camp …

  7. 7
    Cherlock says:

    My “swift punch of adulthood”: Purchasing my first lawnmower.

  8. 8
    Janet T says:

    I started reading this and just laughed. I’m 50 and still get smacked on a fairly regular basis by adulthood things. My husband and I fear B and B’s- I don’t think I could ever get him to stay in one, ever! (maybe it was the Gilmour Girls episode that put us over the edge)- but your garden photos are gorgeous. (I love Jacksonville, go see/hear something at the Britt next time you are down that way)
    We used to live in a house where you had to drive through a cemetery to get to the house- I dare to make the joke that it was a very quiet neighborhood to reside in. The sign at the beginning of the road even said “ Dead End”

  9. 9
    Noelle says:

    Love the story. Being next door to a cemetery would be a plus for me.

    I was forced to stay in a B&B once in Albion, NY (or drive an hour to the nearest traditional hotel at that time). I was their only guest at the time. I was Christmastime and the owner had warm cookies for me every day when I got back from work. My room had a giant hot tub in the bathroom. She drove me to a train/toy store. I wanted her to adpot me.

  10. 10
    Kristina Cline says:

    Nice, I love how you write, I really got a good idea of the place. We stayed at a nice B&B for our 10th Anniversary. It had a separate cabin for introverts like us, we still had to do the communal breakfast though.

  11. 11
    Sloane says:

    I’m really starting to love your catchy sum-it-all-up lines at the ends of your posts. Reminds me a little of Doogie Houser. :)

  12. 12
    Elizabeth says:

    Who wouldn’t want to live next door to a cemetery? They are the best neighbors ever! Never borrowing anything, always quiet, never complain, and the risk of zombie attacks is minimal at best, because of the very sharp and pointy fences every cemetery uses.

  13. 13
    ilse says:

    No worries – Zombies would just die laughing the minute you open your mouth.

  14. 14

    SEE! travel with dog and you have your own built in Zombie detector and alarm system!

  15. 15
    Natalie says:

    What is an ice cream pie?

  16. 16

    Cracking up as always at your words. Your sense of comedic timing is impeccable!

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