And on Tuesday morning, with the sky still black, I kissed Valarie goodbye and headed east, first stopping in Long Beach to visit some ghosts, and then continuing on unti I ran out of real esate. From one tip of the island to the other. By the way, Long Island is the longest, largest and most populous island in the lower 48. 118 miles from tip to tail. Guess it makes sense to call it Long Island.
When I arrived in Montauk, I drove straight to the point and stopped to take in the ocean. As I sat on a bench, looking out over towards Block Island, I noticed what I thought were five pieces of driftwood bobbing in the rough surf. Then they disappeared. When they resurfaced 30 yards away, it dawned on me what I was seeing; a group of seals, (which I found out later is called a pod). There’s not a lot of seal sightings in Coney Island, so this was pretty special. I ran down to the shoreline to see if I could get a better view, and as I walked up the beach with nothing but the cliffs and the sand and the ocean to keep me company, I had this surreal moment where I felt like I was Chuck Heston, about to walk up on the Statue Of Liberty. It was a great way to start my one-day vacation.
I retreated to my hotel room on the ocean to commence writing. There is the novel idea that I’ve been working on for some time, but it hasn’t completely gelled yet, so I set out to write a different short story. The biggest criticism that I received about Split Rock Road is that the stories were sad and a tad on the depressing side. Ok. That’s a fair assessment. This time I set out to write a shiny, happy story.
It didn’t happen.
So sue me, I grew up on Michael Landon for pete’s sake. I’m not sure if this story is good yet, or if I even like it, but I was writing and that was my goal for this trip. After a few hours and 2000 words, I took a break and went for dinner. Afterwards, I went to a local church basement to visit some old new friends. Nearly every meeting I’ve gone to in the past few years has had the same result; five minutes in I wish I had never gone, and 40 minutes later I didn’t want it to end. Of course when they asked if anyone was visiting, I had to announce that I was from Brooklyn. Just the word alone commands awe and respect. At least in my head it does. After the meeting, I raced back to the hotel, to my laptop and my solitude. I didn’t last long. It had been a long day and I wanted to take in the sunrise. I did read an article by a palliative care nurse who shared what dying people stated were their biggest regrets. One of them was that they worked too much. That not me. The biggest regret was that people didn’t follow their dreams, that they took the safe route in life. I could feel my throat tightening as I read it. My biggest fear was their biggest regret. I can’t let that happen.
I set my clock for 5;40, but I was up at 4. I dreamed that I slept through the sunrise and wasted my whole day. After that, I couldn’t fall asleep. Funny thing about ocean front rooms, in the daytime, the lapping of the waves against the shore sounds like heaven. At 4:15am, you just want it to end. It never does.
By 5:30, I was itching to go, so I headed back out to the point. The car read 29 degrees, but I didn’t mind. Only my hands were cold. It was pitch black except for the light of the moon which was still dangling overhead, waiting to the greet the sun with me. To my city trained ears, it was eerily quiet, but in reality, there was nothing but sound: the sound of the ocean in it’s relentless pursuit to swallow the earth, the constant wind winding it’s way through the dried grasses, the occasional night bird, heading back to his day bed, and the sound of my own breathing as I climbed the dunes, watching the first purple streaks race across the morning sky.
I stood on a rocky outcropping underneath the lighthouse. In my head, I was writing my blog, thinking of all these wonderful descriptions of what I was about to see. I forgot most of them. I was alone at sunrise in Montauk. If you think about it, I was he first person to greet the day in all of New York. That was pretty special too.
The sun crept up above the horizon, peering through the morning clouds. I could see hundreds of seabirds cruising over the ocean in search of their morning meal. The first fishing boats began to head out towards Block Island.
A lone seal broke the ocean nearby. He frolicked alone in the morning surf, probably having more fun in that moment than I’ve had in my whole life. I wanted desperately to strip down and swim with him. Soon he was joined by others from his clan. They stopped to look at me. They laughed at my wool hat and my leather jacket and my long johns and gortex boots. Not in this lifetime, son. Maybe next time.
The sun was fully up now. My belly was filled with hunger. It was time to go.
For those of you who have followed my blog, you know that I took a new job about 4 months ago. It’s a good job with a great company. They pay me more than I’ve ever made and they treat me with respect, which is pretty rare these days. But I wasn’t meant to be a slave to the grind. I’ve always known that. If my boss is reading this, I thank you for the opportunity, but I won’t be here long. I’ve got books to write, and pictures to paint, and songs to sing, places to visit. And people to love. I promise that I’ll give you 100% while I’m here. Deal?
When I left on Tuesday, the girl text’d me. – I hope you find what you’re looking for –