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The discreet charm of a firm mattress is just one of the many lessons of a second-anniversary stay.

Editor's note: Each Friday Salon Travel's Wanderlust presents reader tales of romance on the road. Be it a romance requited or un-, with an old love or a new lust, send your tales of amorous adventure to Wanderlust. We'll share a selection of them here.

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By Chris Colin

April 23, 1999 | Two years prior to last Tuesday, we talked by a bookcase at a dance and kissed later that night. Now we're going to a bed and breakfast. Two years exactly, plus the days since last Tuesday. We like occasions marked. Bed and breakfasts are weird for us, us with our baloney sandwiches in foil and our tired old toothbrushes, but we're trying something new.

We're driving down Highway 1, our first time below San Francisco, and of course everything is beautiful. We are East Coasters looking at the hills, the curves, the ocean, the fog. There's a sunset, even. Abby leans her head to the glass and sees waves hitting rocks below. I drive and sometimes look at the sun.

The Seaview Bed and Breakfast offers a sea view, it turns out, and quiet and rustic charm. It is tucked away the way B&Bs are -- the tuck that speaks to the world's mobile and moneyed: I'll be waiting for you, in these trees. Don't worry, the needlepoint magazines are fanned on the wicker coffee table just how you like them.

"The Chrysanthemum Room," the innkeeper says to us with something like a swoon. She is no less than 70, has lived through the Depression and the 1960s and war -- yet she is stirred, on this day in her life, by the Chrysanthemum Room. She hands us the key warmly. "You're going to love it."

We pass other couples on the way to the Chrysanthemum Room. They are older than us -- in their 30s, their 40s, sometimes their 50s -- and are chipper like the innkeeper. They regard us with winks. One woman calls Abby's haircut precious. We're their friends. Bed and breakfasts are weird.

We duck into our room and there are, of course, chrysanthemums. They complement the quilt on the wall, which complements the trim. On the end table is a note in calligraphy about the quilt's pattern. There are old photos in old frames beside the bed. Someone has dusted. I look at us in jeans, mine torn at the crotch and knees and pockets.

"They could have cleaned up a bit," Abby says.


We fall on the bed, and sigh from the long drive, and pick up the cloth-bound notebook by the pillows. It's a guest log. We agree to go find dinner but start leafing through the book. Leafing becomes reading.

"We loved the quilt! It went perfectly with the bedspread (the bed was very comfortable) and the curtains. The room's motif was the same one we (Steven and I) used in our wedding! Well, we've been married 20 years now and we're going strong. Thank you for a wonderful weekend. We'll be back!"

"Ditto on the quilt! I've been trying to find one like it, but no luck yet. What an interesting fabric used for the bedspread. The bed itself was wonderful -- the detailing on the headboard is lovely, and the mattress is nice and firm. We came for a romantic getaway and we got one. Thank you for a perfect time."

"My husband was upset about the 49ers but we had a splendid time anyway!!! The view is breathtaking -- like you promised! -- and the Chrysanthemum Room was nice and cozy. You have the most comfortable bed we've slept on in our 15 years together! Very soft! We'll be sure to tell friends about your establishment!"

Who are these strange sharers? They fill nearly 200 pages and we can't put the book down. If this is voyeurism, it's a strange version: like spying on someone knitting. And there is something compelling in the actual entries, not just the gesture of reading them. So earnest! So free! Yet such mystery -- why confer all this information upon strangers? We decide to think about this.

 Next page | "Whatever you do, be romantic always"


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