Saturday, September 24, 2011
Sometimes I just need to get out of the house. I get wrapped up in myself, listening to music that makes me sad and surfing the net for nothing in particular. This afternoon I fought it off by making a salad with feta cheese and packing it to go.
As I left the neighborhood I asked myself, "Where am I going?" On a whim, or maybe under Ronni's influence, I decided I needed to see something different, so instead of turning left to go towards Sunken Meadow, I turned right towards Robert Moses. It's a 20-minute trip across two scary bridges - the lanes across the open water are pretty narrow. Once across, I circled the water tower and headed to the easternmost Parking Field 5. It was a little cooler than I expected but I had brought a hooded sweatshirt, which I had to double-back to fetch.
The sand felt soft under my shoes, and the ocean waves were loud but somehow soothing. I watched a few Piping Plovers, whose nests on the dunes are protected, scutter along the edge of the advancing and retreating water. There is actually a three foot cliff near the water, formed by what process I don't know. The birds felt safe from me, and didn't seem to mind as I passed them on the cliff above.
I walked along this little beach cliff towards the lighthouse, but didn't really plan to get there. A wooden jetty with a stairway to the beach jutted towards the cliff from behind the dunes, and I climbed the stairs, sat down with my legs dangling, and ate my salad. It's times like these, at the beautiful places, when I miss Ronni most intensely. Sometimes I can remember being in these places with her, and sometimes I must settle for wishing we had gone there together. If she were there with me, we would have said very little; we would have just listened to the sea and the seagulls, embracing side-by-side, with her head on my shoulder.
A couple had pitched a tent on the beach a few hundred feet west of the jetty, and they were wandering the beach looking for shells. I imagined Ronni and I would have talked about doing the same thing at another time; it would have been fun and romantic. This is the time of our lives when we would have been "empty-nesters", enjoying more time together and with friends and family, becoming a couple again after the child-raising years. I felt bitter that we were deprived of that life together.
Another couple approached from the dunes side of the jetty with two little white dogs and a baby stroller. For all I know, the stroller might have been empty - they behaved like the dogs were their kids. One of the doggies came to investigate me, not really interested in anything more than a quick sniff while he peered over the edge of the jetty. He let me scratch his head and neck for a minute or two, then retreated to his parents.
Soon it was time to go back to the car, since the sun would set and I didn't relish walking the beach in the dark. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, and walked west at the very edge of the water towards the setting sun. The waves were cool but not uncomfortable, and I felt the sand and sea foam between my toes as I walked. Those plovers were still hunting for crabs and bits of food, but then I scared them off now that I was at their level on the beach. Finally, at some distance I passed a woman and her 5-ish child sitting high on the beach surrounded by toys and a kite; they were finished playing, and the boy was on her lap as they both looked towards the water. I wondered what their story might have been - a single mother, or dad's away this weekend? Happy, or is she longing for someone the way I am? I did not break their spell to ask.
I walked up the boardwalk toward my car, but stopped short and turned back to look east at a wonderful spectacle: two rainbows, one over the ocean, and the other alongside the lighthouse. The sun had sunk below the cloud deck, illuminating the clouds from below and reflecting the rainbow from the clouds and mist. I moved around on the boardwalk until I got a few good pictures of both rainbows. And then I turned around to look west at the most beautiful sunset I have seen in years. As I alternated between taking pictures and staring with my jaw slack, I had to fight back tears. I have long believed Ronni sees the world from whatever realm she inhabits, through my eyes. I felt her presence, and heard her ask me to stop crying because she couldn't see. I obliged, and I smiled that open-mouthed smile you get when you're so happy you're on the verge of laughter. She and I enjoyed the show together.
The drive home was anticlimactic. Here I am at home writing my thoughts and hoping the pictures came out.