Saturday, November 24, 2012
Life's a Beach
After a funeral you keep on your black clothes and you get a coffee and you drive down, a caravan of cars, lights off now, to the shoreline south of Ocean Parkway, not the boardwalk fields, and not Zach's Bay, the pond-like kiddie pool of beaches, but east a little, Field 6, and you go down there and look across to England or the Cape Verdes or whatever's out that way and think about it.
Your metaphors are all gathered in one place, the wind, the waves, sand sifting along over the temporary dunes with their fragile rooted grasses holding the ocean back for a time but blowing on when their day is done.
And when the Leonids peak you all get into the car late at night and you grab a Thermos and put some hot cocoa in there and you bring a blanket and everyone has extra winter clothes, and you get to Field 6 and it's like a party, suddenly, half the population is out there and you realize that you don't have to be an astronomy freak to want to see magic happening in the heavens. So you lie down in a pile with woven goods stacked on you and you marvel at things you sort-of understand, watching fragments of comets snap and crackle overhead.
The first time you stay up all night with friends, there's only one way to be sure you've actually made it through till morning, and you go down to the beach and you watch as the sun explodes upward to mark your achievement.
It's not like the beach is gone away, exactly, but for something so shifting and changeable, it has a certain solidity in the life and mind of a Long Islander, and the damage from the recent storm is unsettling. Visiting yesterday and seeing the road east of the traffic circle, the road to Field 6, closed, and seeing chunks of boardwalk tilted up helter-skelter at Field 4, and walking past smashed dumpsters and cabanas and sheds at Field 2, over new tidal pools and marshes, it strikes home. Your metaphors have metaphors hidden within them. Even the fact that the sand moves is itself a slippery fact.
The ocean? The ocean is still there, as green and curling and cold as ever. But it's nothing without a beach.