Friday, November 09, 2007

The world is an orange

A visit to the beach at any time should be restful, but at sunset, for me, it's often a time of rest without rest. I'm inclined to lie down in the dunes and read or to watch the sun go down between sleepy eyelids. But my thoughts are soon invaded by memories, by tiny moving clouds, by a trifling and dry rain - a shower of sand that itches behind my eyes. It's a restless, poorly delineated time. I can't concentrate on what I've read, the mosquitoes buzz, the sun is half friend, half foe. And if it rains, the water has an odd murmur that makes me uneasy because I can't understand it. And a fog at the ocean brings the ghost of melancholy.

As kids, a day at the beach meant simply, radiantly, freedom. The adults napped or chatted in their beach chairs high above the tideline. It was our time and kids aren't afraid of the sun. Half-naked, free, oblivious we ran beneath the sun and in and out of the waves like sea creatures. We carried on, stepping on broken seashells, the evil shards waiting among innocent clam shells to pierce our bare feet. The distant dunes full of beach plum and the marsh behind, always the marsh and the bay. Something was always lost in our flight there: a sandal or some small toy. Something that we couldn't go back to look for because we were afraid of repeating the adventure to get there. The marsh grasses were crushed underfoot because the dog was following us, panting with his tongue hanging out and his eyes full of tiny sparks of gold. The neighborhood boys with their jars filled with jellyfish, bottlecaps, found treasures.

Friendship is a great discovery at eight, at nine, at eleven. Larry, the one with the gaps in his teeth. Will and his copper hair sticking up over his ears. Maria with her big round eyes. Lisa, Toni, Greg, John. So many names, the bay behind the marsh, and the sea:

"What is the sea like?"

And we would spread open our arms:

"The sea is..."

The sudden laughter, the punches and jabs. Something pulled from the muck slipped in our unskilled hands, the shirt was lost.

"What is the world like?"

"The world is like an orange..."

The afternoon was coming to an end and the fear was beginning: the lost sandals, the drenched clothes, the scratched knees.

Now, at the beach, I almost don't even think. Voices come to my ears, and even on a fall afternoon there is a distant warmth on my skin, a strong and fresh fragrance on the wind:

"The world is an orange..."

13 comments:

Dr. Know said...

Hmm.. I heard that The World is a Vampire... ;-)

An unfettered childhood is a wonder that lasts a lifetime - some would argue it is the glue that holds one's psyche together during life's latter imposition of adulthood.

Mary said...

I couldn't comment on this an hour ago because I needed time to think.

So, now I'm back and this is all I have to say. Your reflections blow me away every time.

One of your best, Laura :o)

rcwbiologist said...

It's ironic that you wrote this now. We almost live at the beach in the summer, but rarely if at all visit it in the fall/winter. I've been thinking this week that something is calling me there. You may have triggered me into action. Those are vivid memories you have.

Webtoad said...

I've been lurking, following along unsteadily, a catfish on the bottom of the river, always ready to swim off. This one hooked me. I'll be reading everyday now, remembering when I wasn't afraid of the sun.

Susan said...

Beautiful post, Laura! If all bloggers wrote like you, I'd never be able to leave my computer.

Dave said...

I grew up on a mountaintop, but in the parallel childhood of my dreams, there was often a beach, off-season, and a girl my own age who was wise beyond her years. Sometimes I wonder what ever became of her.

robin andrea said...

This is so beautiful, laura. You remind me so much of what it was like to be young, it brings tears to my eyes. A lovely and loving look back at your young self.

Cathy said...

OK. That, dear - is one of the finest reads - ever. I hope you will PLEASE give a little background here - is this biographical in total or a beautiful amalgam of your childhood and the seashore's whisperings.

And that picture . . . . .

Susan Gets Native said...

Why are you not writing books, Laura?

Larry said...

Wow! You are a very talented writer. This brings back some memories of summers I spent at the beach. I assure you there are no gaps in my teeth though.

LauraHinNJ said...

dr. know: ah smashing pumpkins... thanks for that. For the most part it was unfettered; plenty of glue holding me together.

;-)

Mary: thanks. :-)

rcwbiologist: I'm kind of the opposite anymore - in that I tend to stay away in the summer because of the traffic, other than at night. The beach is beautiful in the fall and winter - hope you're inspired enough to visit.

webtoad: so you took the bait, after all.

;-)

Susan: Thanks. I'm inlcined to say something smart-alecky, but I'll resist.

Dave: Thanks for the incredibly cool comment. That'll keep me for awhile.

Robin Andrea: Thanks. I know you grew up here in NJ - how often did you get down the shore?

Cathy: lol - mostly whisperings, I think. Thanks.

Susan: Mmmm... because it will interfere with my modeling career?

;-)

Thanks for the laugh.

Larry: Glad to hear that. I mostly wanted to put a few more gaps in that kid's teeth. ;-)

dguzman said...

I love your blog, man.

LauraHinNJ said...

Delia: Blech, but thanks.