June 6, 2011
When I awoke the next morning, Neal was already awake. I heard a zipper being zipped in his room. It sounded like someone (Neal) saying 'I'm awake" in a high-pitched voice. He said he'd been up for about 45 minutes already. I asked what time it was. He said, "6:15." I said "6:15?" That would be AM of course. I was sure it was at least 8 am.
I was going to walk to my favorite little Boston coffee shop, The Sugar Bowl, and get some coffee, but we ended up driving to McDonald's and going through yet another drive thru. Day 2 of vaca and day 2 of drive thru. Who am I?
With episodes of Today and Friday Night Lights (my first ever) finished, we showered, dressed and loaded the car. I was antsy. I mean we'd been up since 6:15 am. It was after 9 am by that time and I needed to do something.
We loaded the car and made a Target run (are the gays shopping at Target again?) to buy those last minute essentials - OFF!, loofah's, body wash, sunscreen. Next stop, a gas station for a beverage to take on the road. I went straight (gayly forward) to the water, but on the way I passed Sun Drop. Yes, Sun Drop. I hadn’t had one since October. I indulged. I also bought the water and an apple. I may have eaten drive thru twice and gotten a soda, but I wasn’t about to let myself go just because I was on vacation. I was going to the beach after all. The apple was chosen over the peanut M&M's that I wanted. Restraint folks, you can do it if you really want to.
We slammed the doors of our silver Jeep, merged right onto I-93 South and our vacation (Operation 40) started. The tunes (J-Lo, Rihanna, Britney, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) were blaring. It was all I could do to keep the windows up.
Just past the Entering Cape Cod sign we crossed over Bourne Bridge and I turned into a Kennedy. Not! Crossing the bridge gave a beautiful view of the properties that line the water in Bourne Village. I was reminded of crossing the Claiborne Pell Bridge into Newport.
We were so close to Woods Hole, MA, where we were catching the ferry to Martha's Vineyard that I wanted to roll down the window and see if I could smell the water. Again, I kept the window up. It seemed the restraint I was trying to use towards the fast food was branching out into other areas. There was nothing but me stopping me from rolling down the window and smelling the water. I just didn’t do it. Dumb ass!
I would be withholding the truth if I didn't tell you that by the time we got to Woods Hole I had to use the bathroom so bad that I was in pain. Yes, I am nothing if not predictable about needing the bathroom when there isn't one. A small plane to Paducah anyone? Of course, the road had many bumps and we hit them all throwing my bladder into a flip and my insides onto anxiety row. Damn you, Sun Drop.
We stopped at what we thought would be a cute place to eat before boarding the ferry and wouldn't you know it, no public restroom. We got back in the car and headed the 6 miles back up the road to where we'd seen other restaurants. Only God and my self-control saved me wetting my pants. The wooden spoon I was biting on didn't hurt either.
The pleasure that comes when you finally get to go to the bathroom came over me and stayed for what felt like 5 minutes. It wasn't that long, but it was at least 2 minutes of pure urination. Lord! I didn't even order a beverage for lunch. Forget that. We were getting a boat next and I couldn't even deal with that pressure!
We ate at The Quarterdeck in Falmouth. It was rushed as we had 15 minutes to get back to the ferry and claim our place in line. Neal suggested, and I agreed, that this be the last time we rushed for anything for the entire week. Amen!
Lane number 2, 30 minutes 'til departure; we sat and waited. Nothing like waiting in the traffic on the bus the day before. This was an anticipatory wait. The breeze was blowing through the open windows (finally rolled down) as we watched the ferry arrive. I was excited, but very chill.
The cars all exited and loaded onto the ferry with precision and speed. The men in charge had it down to a science. We drove our car onto the ferry, locked it up and proceeded to the upper deck. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the birds were chirping and I was feeling the stress of city life departing my body.
The harbor looked like the harbor I had described in my current short story, Thornclyffe; sailboats dotted the water. I was in the harbor of my fictional town. Crazy cool.
Our ferry began to shake as we began to slowly move out into the Atlantic. We were sitting facing the back. I was curious why the benches didn’t face forward. I hadn’t realized there were benches at both ends. We just happened to sit at the end in which we had entered the passenger deck from the car deck. We moved around to the other side and took in the vast ocean. It was gorgeous – blue in the distance, more green up close. Neal talked of loving the water; I talked of being afraid of it. Imagine me afraid of something. What? No! Well the truth is, not being able to see the bottom and what’s below/around my feet freaks me out. There would be no jumping off the ship and hitting the bottom and using my feet to launch myself upward toward the sun. There would be no bottom to anchor. Freaks. Me. Out.
While staring at the homes that dotted the landscape on Martha’s Vineyard, we heard a dog start barking. I turned to see at what it was barking. It was staring up. I followed its gaze. There was a seagull floating over the deck. It was just gliding above us like a kite over the beach. It was strange yet fascinating. Of course I was hoping in wouldn’t poop on us. Neal made a comment after a while of feeling like Tippi Hedren in The Birds and looking for a phone booth on the ferry in order to get away from our floating passenger. And just like that, the seagull caught a crazy wind and was gone. We watched as it was blown away, unable to steer itself. No need to worry about the bird. It reappeared later in our trip. It was still hovering when we exited to go to the car deck.
We drove off the ferry and I remember saying “Oh my God.” We were in Oak Bluffs and it was beautiful; everything I could imagine and did. I pulled out the handy, here’s-where-every-turn-is directions provided by my rental agent and we were on our way to pick up the rental packet for our week on Martha’s Vineyard. I dubbed it Operation 40. I was surprised at how much the small towns of Oak Bluffs and especially Edgartown reminded me of Amagansett, NY, or Salisbury, CT. I wasn’t in either of those places though. I was on an island in the Atlantic off the coast of Massachusetts. I was escaping and relaxing.
I must admit as we drove to the cottage, a cottage heretofore only seen in pictures, that I was struck with images of Deliverance. Okay it wasn’t like that, but the road turned from paved to dirt. Neal said that is typical of other places. You think there’s nothing there, but it’s a dirt road leading to hidden homes built for privacy. That’s exactly what we had. There were homes near us, but not enough to worry about and the trees were so tall and the bushes so lush that they created a natural barrier and the privacy any one craving it would get.
We unloaded our belongings at 19A Sutton Way and got settled. The ceiling fans were on, the windows were open. The sliding door in my bedroom was open. The breeze filled the house. New York City? What New York City? I zipped my life in New York City up into a bag and hid it in a back corner of my mind. I opened myself up to the cool breeze that washed over me as I stood on the balcony connected to my room. Bliss!
With everything unpacked and stowed in drawers and closets (hey we were living there for a week, we might as well get out of the suit case and into the dresser) we hopped in our silver Jeep and headed to South Beach, a mere two miles down the road.
It was beautiful. I took off my flip-flops and felt the sand between my toes. The evening was lovely. The walk on the beach lovelier if that’s possible. We walked and talked for at least an hour. Our feet, and my lower back, were actually sore when we finally decided we’d had enough. I was conflicted. I wanted to sit down in the Jeep, but I didn’t want my first walk on the beach to be over.
Having a full kitchen we knew we wanted to buy groceries and prepare food for ourselves instead of constantly going to restaurants. Hell, that would just be a waste of money when you have a working stove, microwave and gas grill. We bought the staple provisions of milk, cereal and coffee. We also bought cheeses and crackers, fruit and nuts. We bought pork chops for the evening. In my mind, that gas grill was screaming for the near 2-inch thick pork chops we found in the Stop and Shop. I suggested barbequing them and we found a honey brown sugar barbeque sauce.
Two gay boys, neither of whom owns a grill, was a comedy routine for those lucky enough to be watching, through an open space in the trees or bushes, when we tried to light the grill. We tried all three knobs until Neal suggested that maybe the propane wasn’t on. We couldn’t see as we had waited until after dark to start grilling. I suggested Neal get the flashlight that he packed (at the last minute just in case we needed one). Looks like we needed it. He turned on the tank and we had fire. Tom Hanks didn’t shout anything about making fire and neither did we, but it was exciting nonetheless.
We didn’t know how long to cook the meat. Neal came inside and Googled “grilling thick pork chops” or something along those lines and we followed the directions. Sear for one minute, flip, sear for one minute, flip, cook for 3 minutes, flip, cook for three minutes, flip. Of course the temperature of the grill wasn’t hot enough when we started and we reduced the heat in the middle of searing and flipping. That being said, the meat was not done when we took it inside and cut it open. Back to the grill for another 6-10 minutes and viola – the other white meat was perfect.
There’s something to be said for enjoying a meal that you prepare yourself. We poured a Rosé to go with ours and sat and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.