She pranced across the hot sand, her delicate feet barely touching ground. From behind her sunglasses, I could see that she was glancing at me. She was 21, maybe 22, and her supple skin had been lovingly kissed by the sun, turning it a deep, dark brown. She licked her lips before smiling, and beckoning for me to come over to her blanket.
Or did she?
No, of course she didn’t. She was a lifeguard with a potty mouth that made me want to scold her and send her to her room, but instead I made her a princess, cause that’s what I do. For some reason, the beach brings out the creative impulses. For some reason, the beach late in the afternoon, when the crowds have gone and the sun is setting, brings out the creativity AND the melancholia. This is the situation I found myself in today as I sat in my chair, reading my book, contemplating the next chapter in my life, which begins Monday morning at about 5:30 a.m. Or more likely, 5:39.
Maybe 5:48, but no later.
The last two weeks have been interesting. I’ve alternated between wanting it to last forever, or being over quickly so I can start the new job and be done with the anxiety. I’m sure by Monday morning, I’ll be wishing for one more day.
Just to recap, my previous employer screwed me over more time on my way out the door, turning an already unpleasant experience into the bitter taste of bile that you get when you spend the morning dry-heaving after a weekend of endless gin stingers. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Milford NY with my brother, trying to unwind and relax by working in my garden and staining my newly purchased Adirondack chairs. Wednesday was spent in a deep depression; me wanting nothing more than to go back upstate and live out my life in solitude, forgetting the fact that I would have no place to live and no way to earn a living. By Thursday I was back to my normal, cynical self.
I’ve been doing two things for leisure the past week. One was re-watching every episode of The Wire on HBO-Go. The other was reading a Springsteen biography. I was never a huge Springsteen fan growing up. As a matter of fact, my own lack of musical talent and my irrational disdain of anything from New Jersey, left me in a state of absolute jealousy that bordered on maniacal. It wasn’t until 84, 85, during the Born in the USA tour that the girl said she wanted to go, and I was left with no other choice but to agree. I grumbled about it for three weeks, and then on the day of the show, I smoked a bag of sense by myself in the the Giants Stadium parking lot and then went inside and was thoroughly impressed and entertained for the next three hours.
Then I had to listen to about 300 “I told you so’s” on the ride home.
The next day I went to the Record Factory on 86th street to buy Born in the USA when the shopkeeper stopped me. “You already know every song on this record. Radio plays it every day. Buy this instead.” It was the Nebraska record. It was sparse, and dark, and lonely. Nothing like the songs I already knew. I loved it. I’ve been a casual fan ever since. As I read through the biography, I was transported back through my own life; relating where I was at various points in Bruce’s career. I was 10 when Born To Run came out; just starting to come of age. By the time I saw his show, I was circling the drain, hell bent on destruction. Two years later, when Tunnel of Love came out, I had switched trains, taking a new path when I decided to get sober. As I read each chapter, I listened to the corresponding record, hearing some things for the first time, almost like discovering a new artist. He’s not Dylan or Lennon, or even Neil Young, but he’s pretty damn good at times. Plus, his mother is from Bay Ridge. Had I known that in 1978, things might have been different.
I thought about taking a ride down to Asbury Park to take in the sights and sounds and soak up a little bit of the history. Then I realized that I had my own Asbury Park right in my own backyard; with it’s own boardwalk, and it’s own amusement rides and it’s own history and the original Nathan’s and the greatest wooden Roller Coaster of them all. Who needs the Jersey Shore when you’ve got Brooklyn?
Some time last week, as a result of the blog, the girl sent me an e-mail that she enjoyed the blog. I just loved the irony of it all. She wasn’t the first girl that I cried over; the first one was Michelle in 9th grade.
She wasn’t the last either.
I’ve had two great talents in my life. One was making women love me with every fiber of their being. The other was making them leave me 18 months later. I did it again recently. If I time it right, I can probably do it two more times before I turn 50. If you’re good at something, stick with it.
Anyway. all these things were leading up to a moment today where I was sitting at the beach, facing the water, feeling alone and isolated, despite the fact that the beach was still filled to the brim with screaming, overweight nitwits wearing bikini’s 2 sizes too small. I managed to make my world so small, that I was the only one in it. I finished the book and listened to “Lonesome Day” on my Ipod. Despite its post 9/11 overtones, it felt good. Despite the 95 degree heat, it felt like Labor Day, with the first day of school only days away.
For most of the people on the beach, it was just another Saturday on Coney Island. For me, it was the last day of summer. On Monday, I start a new chapter. A new life, with new challenges and new things to learn. I even bought a new black composition notebook.
One more day left.
I can’t wait.