May 25th, 2008
In a pink plastic car sits a child of two, singing for the extra assurance of her daddy’s hand as she steers down the boardwalk. Mom licks an ice cream cone, bending down to share when the girl looks up, with chocolate mouth and magicked eyes.
A merrily painted bungalow sits behind a handmade gate of twisted wicker, culminating in an arch where passerby tie wishing ribbons on the mangled strands, a visceral reminder of luck’s twists and turns, of jostled hopes for a baby, a diagnosis, a peace.
Sun-dried men and women cross the street, barefoot, toes curled up, shrinking from the hot pavement, yet the calloused heels touch down confidently, used to brambles, broken glass and scalloped bottle caps.
Night windows open, the sound of rushing surf a pulse. We sit outside, comforted by a town in repose, but still humming; life stretching, the waves a beating reminder, a conviction.
Walkers in twos jaunt up hills, then down, and back again, stopping to look at the kaleidoscope before them, sprinkled with white sails and red buoys, then lovers link hands, friends nod, dogs pull against their leashes.
Drunks shout as you enter your car, give life to bars, dot the oak benches and open-air tables, some are sirens, some the surf, some, ice cream; all are bewitched.
Scrambling down the cliffs, keeping an eye on the concrete wedged in the dirt, cars parked here once, reclaimed by shifting sands and the water’s incessant bleating. Surfers nimble by, surefooting their way down crags and nooks. A sea lion preens on a rock. Your children point to a sea anemone and rush headlong into the tide’s pool. You wish it all were the size of a penny, pocketed for good luck.
Kites flicker, tails waving and pointing. Children hold their faces to the sun, their parents calling out shapes and colors, but the children are deaf, and pirouetting in the sky.
A lime green bus with white fenders parks in front of an apartment, where inside you see a flickering woman holding a cigarette, she waves, or at least you think she does. You lift your fingers, and they catch the breeze; she smiles and sets the ashtray on the table, the smoke drifts into the air, a ghost.
He sails down the hill, inches from your car, and begins to weave, defiant. He’s a blur, save for the red baseball cap perched cockeyed on streaming brown hair. At the intersection, he continues on, and you wonder at his silly courage. His hat lifts, whirls, and slams against your hood.
Her yellow shirt showed you she was crying. Her boyfriend rose to sit next to her, and he put an air around her shoulders. Red cheeks clash with garish yellow, as he pulled out some papers. He’s never coming back. You both know it.
In full daylight, a baby in night clothes fights sleep, curled in his grandpa’s arms. The old man’s feet are anchors, the baby quiets just as mom peeks over her father’s shoulder, and satisfied, turns toward home. The man stays to draw a blanket over the boy.
He slides chairs out, inviting us into the conversation, his wife pointing to New York Times cartoons and the flyer for Friday’s photo contest at the Historical Society. Coffee comes and I cut French Toast into bite-sized pieces, while my daughter laughs at his jokes.