We took the train out to Rockaway today, where I spent most of the summer of 1984. The subway still stops at Beach 98 Playland, though Rockaway Playland burned down almost twenty years ago. I show Bill the condos where Playland used to be -- "See, here was the gate to the park, and all the rides, and over here was, like, skee ball and clam shacks." One summer, it was up and running; the next summer, it was a burnt out shell, the twisted black beams of the roller coaster rising from the rubble like the skeleton of a ghost ship.
Arson, they say. The owner. Insurance.
I like to walk next to the ocean. It's not original, but it's true. I like long walks on the fucking beach, even if it's January and it's drizzling and you have to take the subway for over an hour each way to get there. The patterns of the sand, the thin lips of the waves reaching and receeding. The trail of shells, rocks, sticks, seaweed, bottle caps. The smell of the air, the fullness and cleanness, how dense and gentle against your cheek. The sound, shhh, shhh. There were surfers today, sleek and grey in their hooded wetsuits. The horizon was indistinct.
We stopped and had lunch in a firefighter/EMT bar. Fried fish, hockey, and Guiness. Everyone was discussing the action they had on the afternoon games. I muttered to Bill, "I feel like Lilith and Frazier."
Even with your shoes on, you can feel the way the sand moves under your weight, nothing else feels like that, like the earth is cooperating with you on your walk, or slowing you down. Everything is particulated, in the mist between states of being. Earth, air, water, and you, the fire.
I like this rock, it's orange. The nacre on this shell is gold. This grey one is perfectly grey and perfectly smooth.
Eventually, we walked back through the weedy streets towards the elevated platform and waited for the train, which took us across Broad Channel, through the fragmites and marsh, through neighborhoods where the houses are low enough to see the whole indigo sky. Through a tunnel, and then you couldn't see it anymore.