Seeing Salty lurking outside her second story window had scared the Bejesus out of Lorraine. A cup of tea hadn’t helped and a stiff drink hadn’t been much more help. She tried walking around the block with Suki as a way to calm herself down.

The temperature was plummeting and flakes of snow were swirling around her. She wrapped her powder blue cashmere scarf around her throat and and pulled her knit cap lower over her eyebrows. She stopped in at Bone-a-Fide to buy a treat for Suki and to warm up.  Ashley was working and came around the counter to scratch Suki’s ears. When Ashley bent down to do so, she noticed something clenched in Suki’s jaws. It was a pig’s ear that Suki had stolen from the low shelves by the front door. Ashley tried to pry it from her mouth, but Suki had other ideas. “Oh, I’ll buy it for her,” said Lorraine. “She and I both need some treats.”

“I hear ya'” said Ashley.

Lorraine stopped by Chifforobe for some soap and lotion and to drool over some of the gorgeous Indian textiles brought back by Suzy. She then walked into The Curiosity Shoppe and noticed something different about Chelsea. It wasn’t her blue streaked hair, and it wasn’t her hip black clothing. “You look great, Chelsea. What’s up?”

“I decided to downsize,” Chelsea responded. “It’s amazing how good it feels to get rid of stuff you’ve had around for ages. I looked at what didn’t bring me joy, and I put it to the curb. Now I’m free of all that clutter and have room in my life for some good things to come in.”

“Did you read that book everyone is reading by that Japanese women? She gives you step-by-step directions for how to simplify your life by purging and organizing. I’m not sure I’m ready for all that. I saw her on Good Morning America and she was demonstrating how you should fold your tee shirts into little packages, stand them on end, and color code them in the drawer. Who has that kind of patience? Or time. I guess I’ll stick with my mess,” said Lorraine.

“I’m telling you!” Chelsea went on. “Do it. You’ll feel so much lighter.”

“I’ll think about it. But I am so attached to all my stuff. I sure would love to feel lighter, though. I have gained fifteen pounds already this winter, and I have no idea how. Maybe I’ll walk up to the Dripolator and get a skinny latte. And a muffin.” Lorraine left Chelsea’s store and crossed the street to Mountain Nest. Helen and Colleen were both there.

After the three women exchanged greetings and she had a chance to wander around the store, Lorraine thought some more about de-cluttering. All she really wanted was to get more stuff, so she put aside thoughts of getting rid of things. “What are your thoughts about how I can get out of my funk?’ she asked.

Both Colleen and Helen thought about getting out of funks. “There’s chocolate, there’s wine, and there’s travel,” they decided.

Travel? Lorraine hadn’t thought about travel. She decided to go back to her apartment at 44 Cherry Street and see if there were any cool deals on Expedia.

Once inside and comfortable, Lorraine ate a chunk of chocolate and poured herself a glass of red wine. Both were said to be good for ones health. Very quickly she found an amazing deal for a weekend trip to Puerto Rico and before she had time to talk herself out of spending the money, she booked the flight and called her friend Denise to ask her to take care of Suki.

Now came the hard part. She hadn’t had a bathing suit on for a couple of years, and there was nothing more dispiriting than looking in the mirror at her bluish-white body bulging out of a swimsuit. Lorraine dug around in the bottom drawer of her chest where she kept summer clothes and found a stash of linen Flax clothes rolled into tubes to minimize wrinkles, some Indian cotton tops, and a Toblerone Chocolate bar she had hidden and forgotten. There also was her black granny bathing suit. She held it up in front of herself and looked in her ornate gold-framed mirror. Sadly, it still probably fit. If only it were too big so she could by a cute bikini. That would probably not happen soon if she kept eating whole Toblerone bars.

She carefully squeezed a large assortment of clothes, far too many for the three day weekend she had booked, into her carry-on wheeled suitcase. She believed in packing for any eventuality. Maybe it would be cold in Puerto Rico. Maybe it would be very hot. Maybe she’d need something dressy.  She definitely needed something large and flowing to wear over her bathing suit from her room at the Courtyard Marriott to the beach behind the hotel. And some cute sandals. She packed three Harlequin Romance paperbacks she had bought at Mr. K’s and hadn’t read yet. And sunblock, but only SPF 30. She wanted to come back with a tan of some kind. She still had a couple of days before this last minute trip, so she could re-evaluate what she was taking.

She was definitely feeling better! This idea of Helen’s and Colleen’s was a good one. Even the idea of travel was making her feel better.

She took out the journal her friend Stephanie had given her. She hadn’t wanted to write anything negative in the journal, and now she was so hopeful that she felt inspired to write an entry:

“Today I feel joy. I am going to Puerto Rico and will sit in the sun and read. I will eat Mofongo if I must, but will feast on fresh seafood and drink Mojitos and Pina Coladas on the beach. I will enjoy being alone on vacation, something I have never tried before, and I will stop thinking about men. I don’t need a man in my life. I am whole just the way I am.”