Feathers on the Fence.
Juice, bagels, and an impromptu macaron from a local bakery. That’s how the morning began. Then we grab a quick coffee before embarking on a drive with no particular destination in mind. Per the usual, we’re equipped only with our assumption that sticking to the coast will eventually result in stumbling upon whatever destiny has à la carte. It’s pretty chilly out, but that isn’t because the sun isn’t completely there… it is. A syrupy golden light pouring slowly through a hole, like sacred honey illuminating a hidden staircase that you could trace back to the secret garden if you stared long enough.
She says there’s a place near here that we can hang by, but first she wants to stop at this used book store we’re passing, so we pull in. As we do she says I favor a soccer mom behind the wheel of this big SUV. I cut my eye’s back at her, mostly because I know she’s right. I’m not sure what she expected to find in this bookstore, but she immediately disappears towards the back as soon as we enter, only to emerge just as fast with nothing in hand. She could totally be a spy.
– Ok. Let’s go.
– What were you searching for?
– She shrugs.
We leave the store, hop back in the massive truck, and start driving sans purpose, or direction, again. Once a guy at that very same bookstore told me that they used to have a secret SS youth program in this town. I asked how their basketball team was. He didn’t get it, I guess he wasn’t one of them. She points a few streets up as we drive, without ever peeling her eyes off the map on her phone screen.
– Take a left right there.
We do, but as we pull in the lot, we can see the beach entrance has been fenced off. There’s a sign across from the fence indicating where an open entrance can be located. She repeats its coordinates out loud, but it’s all become muffled waves to me. Sometimes when I get the gist of what’s happening I travel to the future where we’re already in motion instead of suffering through the whole word spell. We drive along the coast for a bit longer through insipid residential’s that all blend blandly into each other until she tells me to turn around. She’s GPS’d the other entrance, it’s back the other way.
We travel in silence taking in the coast line, it’s really beautiful in Connecticut. When we eventually pull into the lot I gaze over at the boardwalk. The cement structure is a little malformed leading up, but once we get out of the car, and go through the mangled underpass, water opens up to a greatly softened view.
Coast is always a elegant site, sumptuous without decor. Few things are more impressive without addition, but coast always holds true in its autonomy.
I find myself entranced in this leer, ( that could be a subtle Shakespeare reference, I’m not sure ). It’s in these moments of stillness where the sun plays Billy the Kid, having just made off with my memory bank. As my mind becomes empty, it is suddenly full.
In a pure moment of lucidity, I tell her I’ve realized what I want to write. It just came to me. I tell her I’m a little nervous because it all feel’s very borrowed, but also my own. I can’t figure out if I’m an extension of unrelated lineage, or the natural beginning of a pure soul. She seems uninterested whether I’m up or down, more captivated by sea shells scattered along the sands.
-Did you hear about those starfish?
-Yeah. Did you hear about that whale thing?
-What do you mean?
-You didn’t hear about those whales that washed up on the shore?
-No, where did that happen. Japan?
We don’t talk very much about England right now. It’s kind of a sore spot. We’d broken up for a bit a while back because I was being shitty, and then she ran off to London on a whim with a British guy who turned out to be really weird. He’s not really worth delving further into than that, but it took us both a while to get back to each other with a lot of insecurities on both sides fogging the path. In the end though I think we both realized how silly it was to keep hurting each other, or to apply shame to anyone for mistakes they make out of pain, especially in the wake of our own infallibility.
That’s what I realized at least. It’s easy to claim what you deserve, but in most instances we’re generally getting exactly what we have coming. We just don’t like to envision ourselves as anything short of godly, so we continue repeating the patterns that keep us away from love. Until we don’t. Then we’re here.
She’s returned to her shells while I putt further up the beach to collect some trash. I like to do that. I like that she does it too, and like’s that I’m a person who does it. It’s nice to be with someone you like, and who you know likes you. Somehow I feel like the world is improved when we are together, at least with her I know I’m not the only one concerned with its conservation. I mean everyone say’s they care, but when I look into her, she cares. If I could spend the rest of my life caring for the world with her, writing about our experience, while she captured it all via photo, I’d truly feel fulfilled.
Eventually without words we both find our way over to the boardwalk on top of the beach. It’s a long curved belt that runs adjacent to a rail line. At the far end of the boardwalk there’s a fence closing off a path to an entrance. Presumably leading to the first entrance we tried. I’m no navigator, but that feels right.
– Do you want to hop the fence?
– The fence. We can climb over that railing, then scale around the side of it.
– No. It’s blocking us off because that cement is wet.
– Yeah. Pump your brakes. We know all about you and your cement exploits.
– Who is we?
– Shut up.
– Alway’s so mean.
I know she’s referring to the time we rode bikes through Providence, and some concrete men were nice enough to clear a way for us as we passed them. On the way back I’d completely spaced, rode right through the multiple signs labeled ‘wet cement’, and all of those good hardworking people had to come back the next day to repeat the process all over again. Clearly an example illustrating what an oblivious dickhead I’m capable of being.
– I get nervous whenever I’m around train tracks.
My face pinches my nose.
– I don’t know. I always feel like a train is going to run me over or something.
– Do you think you’re living out a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon?
– I’m kidding, but now that that’s been entered into evidence I’m genuinely thinking about it. Seriously… consider the implications of our media. Think about what era’s of gender constructs have done to the psyche of little girls around the world. Everything from TV and radio projects them as victims waiting for ‘Mr. Hero’ to come to the rescue. Jesus. Women are under constant, and consistent reminder that they’re always in danger, while boy’s are generally allowed to live like carefree rescuers, knowing their biggest concern is that at some point they will surely have to rescue a damsel in distress, or learn a difficult knot in case they’ve opted to play the villain, or frat brother. I wonder sometimes if those things are different. Either way, as the TV tells, in the end, one of those characters gets to take the girl home with them as some barbaric reward for chivalry/monstrosity.
– Welcome to History. Is this your first visit?
– Man society has got to kill all that fuck noise. History. Just wipe it all out, and start fresh. I don’t mean delete the stories. Just stop propagating a warped society based on their flawed sense of right and wrong. The only thing these stories have ever brought us is conflict. Which of them has ever served to bring resolution to humanity? Which story has ever liberated a human soul? We’ve got to stop flubbing it up.
– They’ll all bring resolution to humanity, if you let them each tell it individually. That’s what has created such a fertile landscape for conflict. It’s a war of ‘My way’s’.
– I don’t like the thought of weaponized ideas.
– I don’t like the thought that every one human being isn’t counted as one human being, regardless of age, race, or gender.
– Nothing, disregard.
We retrace the boardwalk in contemplative silence. I rest an arm over her shoulder, she leans into my ribs, I look over at the water, forgetting everything I can about the errors of this era that’s engulfed us. I just want to be here, in this moment of content, forever. ‘I ask the water with my eyes, come back for us, bring us back to a place where we are free’, and then I ask myself… ‘Was this it’? If so, did we ruin it all, or is the freedom I seek merely a new surface? A level closer to base reality, or further away?
We’ve reached the end of the boardwalk.
She pulls me close until I look over to see we’re poised perfectly in a convex mirror. She snaps a picture of us on her phone. The moment isn’t seized for an internet post, or a refrigerator portrait. It’s ours. Frozen forever in time, wind blowing in our eyes, both of us to squinting, looking uncomfortable yet satisfied, just two little punks patched on the glass. The sun still looking super dank behind us as it drenches the water.
Heading back to the lot she says something I can’t quite decipher because I’ve condemned my consciousness to spatial whirling again. This time a fulmination against the arrogance of human land development. I have to stop tuning her out, she’s often giving me the keys to my own universe, I’m just too aloof to hear the pins releasing enough to turn the lock.
– Nothing, we passed it.
– What’d you say though?
– I said, ‘Oh look, a feather on the fence’.
A slight turn brings it into vision, I see it there, tangled in the fence, twisting in torment, trying to find its way back to winds it knows.
– Ha, perfect.
– Nothing. You know… you make this all worth while.
There she is again with those maple syrup eyes, and that grandma soft smile. She consider’s what I said briefly before answering.
– I love you too.
– I didn’t say that.
She shake’s her head like I’m missing something that she’s always possessed.
– You never have to.