We had a wonderful stay at the cottage. The apple tree was loaded with fresh fruit, so we picked plenty, and even have a few to take home. Our days were spent at the beach, evenings were spent in the sauna looking out at the sea and the full moon. I had a bit of insomnia, so the night descended on me like a sky full of angry ravens and specters full of fury. A black aurora borealis, the ghosts of ex friends, lovers, and drinking buddies, all screaming down from the inky abyss, a collective earthbound howl. The voices count off the years, demanding answers, presenting me with a full accounting of time, dead end self-involved precocious ambitions, things I thought I wanted and found out differently, and plans that never came to fruition. The moon became an interrogation light, blinding me on the patio of your fairytale cottage. A voice from behind the light demands I reconcile its ledgers of this life; square up the shortfalls, explain the overages. I run off of the patio and out to the apple tree between your Fairytale Cottage and Seaside Main House. The fucking apple tree. Where I stood only nine hours ago, picking fruit, making jokes, laughing, smiling. So normal did all of this seem, sweaters were worn, photographs taken with telephones and posted up into an ether of mostly strangers so that they might admire, and like, and approve. I stared at the photos too, convinced I look good on the surface, calm in the face of time and life doing what they do. Does the cottage, in fact, have a history rich with golden era Hollywood icons staying here while looking to escape the scandal and countless little deaths that came with celebrity and outsized success, even back then? Tonight, having headed down the slippery slope of comparing myself to the curated lives depicted in the guestbook entries of previous travelers, I envy anyone whose life was torn asunder, destroyed, and re-ordered by fame’s sweet venom and hurricane momentum. In the previous entry, just one week before my arrival, I see that Steven proposed to his girlfriend Melissa on the deck overlooking the bay. Congratulations to Steven — only God and the Devil know why I’ve struggled to accept all of the love that has come my way in this life. I see in an even more recent entry that just two days prior to my arrival, Mike and Stephanie from North Carolina sat at the very table I write at now, serene, having a glass of wine, and recalling their stay. I agree with Mike and Stephanie’s estimation that no other place on Earth is quite as magical as your little cottage here, but Mike and Stephanie need to learn that magic, like reality, has a light and dark side. What Mike and Stephanie don’t seem to understand that life is a cobra in a terrarium, cornered by invisible walls, confined by boundaries it cannot see. It is beautiful, but also savage by nature, impartial to what it strikes, fucks, eats, in order to carry forth with its biological imperative. I wonder if Mike and Stephanie have ever consider that. Maybe it is incumbent upon other guests to stay awake nights in your delightful cottage, trying to make sure the metaphorical cobra of life is warm. Maybe it’s up to an unfortunate few itinerant weirdos to feed the cobra of life, all the while hoping it does not strike at the wrist and paralyze the heart. My girlfriend is calling for me to return to bed now; a kind and comical small whisper of a whistle that she does, a playful pulling me back as the sun comes up now and ends what feels like my funeral, trial, and spectrum of maladies. In closing, we enjoyed riding the bikes to the farmer’s market on Saturday for fresh cinnamon buns, sitting in the sun, cooking on the outdoor grill, and sitting by the fire at night… the dark, dark, night, in which so many questions seem to arise.

Dan Kennedy
New York, New York

P.S. While I’m impressed with Stephanie’s photo-realistic charcoal sketch of your apple tree, I’d like to point out, on the facing page, my rendering of guitarist Slash from the American rock band Guns ‘N’ Roses. I started working on it immediately after checking in nine days ago, and it’s meant to represent Slash in the 1991/1992 Use Your Illusion period.