Thursday, June 16, 2011

Relax, There's No Sunset or Shark

June 10. 2011

The storms of the previous night had once again washed the Vineyard clean and cleared away the previous day’s heat, not that there had been much of it. The air smelled fresh and the sky was blue.

I awoke around 6:30 am. I wouldn’t get up though. I continued to lie in bed for another hour, drifting in and out of sleep. I had been so tired from the bike ride we’d taken that I remembered turning the light next to my bed off slightly before 10 pm. Unheard of for me. I’m a midnight/1 am kind of guy most of the time.

So when I did get up I went straight to the sliding door in my bedroom and pushed the curtain to the side and the opened the door. I took in the gorgeous blue sky and the sound of the birds chirping. I breathed deep the floral smell that surrounded my cottage.

I made my way downstairs and began opening doors those as well. The cross breeze in the cottage was amazing. I wished I could get one that nice and refreshing in my own home in Astoria.

While I was enjoying my first cup of coffee Neal came downstairs to greet the morning. He had fallen asleep even earlier than I. It was a lazy Friday morning for both of us. He went outside to the side porch and laid in the sun while I took my second cup of coffee upstairs to my own deck in order to continue reading of Sookie and her vampire friends’ plan to kill one of their enemies in Dead Reckoning. I turned my chair to face the sun, felt the cool breeze on my body, enjoyed my cup of coffee and lost myself in Bon Temps and Shreveport for another chapter.

By the end of that chapter the cool breeze made me wish for a blanket. It was downstairs and I just couldn’t be bothered to go down there and get it. So I moved inside my room where an almost too comfy chair and ottoman sat near enough the door that I could still feel the breeze. Being inside kept me from being as chilled as I was outside and I continued reading another chapter. Not sitting on the subway or in bed getting ready for sleep is such a nice change for reading a book. I don’t take enough time to read outside of those situations. I can say that we had only turned the television on once by this point in the vacation; also a welcomed change.

This was the day that we drove to Vineyard Haven. It was massage day. Yes, you heard me right, massage day. I had never had one and being on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard seemed the perfect excuse to finally indulge. It was perfect timing too as we had ridden our bikes approximately 25 miles the previous day.

Neal booked me an hour massage and booked him an hour and a half. He’s been 40 since October so he needed a little extra time to work out the knots. My massage therapist’s name was Sandra. She explained how everything worked i.e. tell me if it’s too hard or too soft. She listened to me talk about my problem areas i.e. left slide lower back, right side shoulder blade and neck. That right side problem is from the previous day’s baptism in the Atlantic. I woke up that morning with a sore neck. Hello Sandra, work out my seizing kinks. So we’ve established that this was my first massage. Lets establish that I was nervous. Not about it being painful or anything, but about being naked on the table. Sandra told me I could wear as much or as little as I chose. I knew going in that Neal was going to fully disrobe. This wasn’t his first time. My biggest fear: erection. Now, I know that a massage therapist is used to men getting erections on the table. I have no idea why I was so concerned. I later admitted to Neal that I was also concerned about being so relaxed that I passed gas. Okay, so both of those things are ridiculous and are geared more towards me embarrassing myself than the massage therapist being embarrassed. I’m a dumb ass sometimes. I’m aware.

I chose to disrobe fully and experience the experience. It was truly amazing. I was knotted in more places than I was even aware. I just continued to breathe through it concentrating on relaxing. If I ever felt a tinge of movement down south I just repeated to myself she’s a woman, she’s a woman, she’s a woman. I kept an erection at bay the entire time. I didn’t feel the need to pass gas ever. I lost all concept of time. The hour was over before I knew.

Sandra had some good advice for me as far as stretching my chest in order to help release the knotted tension that I carry in my shoulders. She told me I needed to drink a lot of water for the rest of the day and provided me with my first cup herself. She was great. Honestly, I would go back to her in a heartbeat.

When I pulled out my money to pay, I was told that the bill had already been paid. They asked me if I knew someone named April. Of course, that’s my sister. It was only after Neal was finished that I learned he and April had conspired behind my back in order for her to provide me with a gift on the Vineyard. Once we had made our massage reservations, Neal had given my sister the information and she had called ahead and paid for mine. It was all presented to me on a card when I got there, but I hadn’t really paid that much attention to the card so I didn’t even register whom “April” was.

Post massage and glistening from the massage oil we were both hungry. It was time for lunch. We looked around Main Street, Vineyard Haven and settled on Waterside Market. It wasn’t on the water, but it had an open air feel about it and sandwiches as big as our heads. Truly, Neal and I each got the Farmhouse sandwich - grilled chicken breast, maple pecan goat cheese, spinach, bacon and onion jam on ciabatta. I got mine without the bacon. We each had to have half of the sandwich wrapped to go. Paying once and getting two meals isn’t such a bad deal.

I have to admit right now that in the previous post I was a little hasty in writing off Vineyard Haven. My words, “To me Vineyard Haven was nothing to write home about. It wasn’t as quaint as Oak Bluffs or Edgartown.” I judged too quickly; misjudged is more like it. We had ridden our bikes on the outskirts of a village that turned out to be simply lovely and just as quaint as Edgartown. We drove to the West Chop lighthouse. It was on private property so we admired it from the Jeep. Imagine having a lighthouse in your backyard. We continued our drive down a now one-way street – trees arched overhead to form a canopy – lined with some of the most gorgeous cottages we’d seen so far. Dare I dream that a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard is a possibility? Dare to dream. Dream the impossible dream. Just keep dreaming. Don’t dream it be it.

In a previous post, From Clear Blue to Cumulus, I mentioned the Flying Horses Carousel. It was open from 4 pm – close (between 8 & 10 pm) Friday through Sunday. That meant that on this day we could actually see it and ride it. We drove into Oak Bluffs and parked our Jeep. We had an hour to kill. We did so by going to Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream. Neal loves ice cream and I was indulging myself so what the hell. I got Vanilla with Reese’s this time. Neal got Cookie Dough. Now I can’t remember what they were really called. Mine was something like Reese’s Cream and Neal’s was maybe Loads of Dough. Who knows? I didn’t focus on the name so I don’t remember it. Shoot me. Neal thought the ice cream we had gotten at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium was better. My friend Rob who had suggested Ben & Bill’s had also said it was better than Mad Martha’s. I was eating a vanilla based ice cream as opposed to a chocolate based so it was hard for me to compare. Apples and oranges. Fat is fat!

We passed the rest of our hour by playing skeeball – 9 games each to be exact. I started out great with a couple of 10,000-point holes in my first round but quickly fell to average. Neal, a competitor by nature, was so happy when he surpassed my high score. I ended up with 58 tickets and Neal ended up with 83. He was the victor after all. I hadn’t played skeeball in years. I must admit that I had a great time even if I did lose. I’m a competitor also.

Onto The Flying Horses – the oldest operating carousel in our country. It was $2 a ride. I bought two tickets. We only had to wait in line for one ride before it was our turn. We used that time to watch as people reached for the brass ring. You see there was an arm with a ring at the end for the outside and inside horse riders. There is one brass ring in each arm. That’s a chance for two people to get a free ride. When it was our turn, Neal and I chose the outside horses, as we are big boys. I missed grabbing a ring once. Neal chastised me for missing a brass ring opportunity. Take note here, Michael – opportunity is not a lengthy visitor. I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually rode a carousel. Now I can say it was June 10, 2011, and that it was the oldest operating carousel in our country. Is there anything better to access your inner child than a carousel? Maybe there is, but for me The Flying Horses was all access.

I had asked Wendy, the receptionist at the Center for Therapeutic Massage (that’s where we got our massages) about Jaws. I had to be a tourist and ask the dumb tourist question. I do love that movie. I knew going in that it was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard. I didn’t want to leave without seeing if I could recognize some of the areas used in the film. She said that Vineyard Haven had not really been used. She thought it was mostly Edgartown, Chappaquiddick Island and Menemsha as well as State Beach. I think a little South Beach might be in there too, but I’m not sure.

We had gone to Menemsha on the 8th and had actually seen the buoy in the water that Sandra thought was the one used for the dinging sound. Wendy also thought Menemsha Harbor was the harbor used in the movie. As for downtown Amity, we hadn’t found that yet. I kept thinking I would recognize it. I asked Neal if we’d been to the main drag of Edgartown. He thought we had. When we were on our way back to our cottage we discovered a road toward Edgartown Center that we had yet to take. As soon as we turned onto Main Street I knew I was there. I’m sure businesses have changed in the 35 years since Jaws filmed on Martha’s Vineyard, but it felt like what I remembered. I had to smile and I think I might have clapped.

Later that night, we pulled into the Menemsha Harbor parking lot and there they sat, all the people who, like us, had come to see the sunset over the Atlantic. My friend Rob had mentioned that people order lobster in “to go” boxes and take them to the beach to eat and wait for the ball of light to drop below the horizon. The white boxes covered many laps as people sat on the railing separating the parking lot from the beach or on beach chairs, waiting.

The evening was cloudy, but we wanted to see what we could see. How many chances do you get? It ended up being something we would leave on our “to do” list as the cloud coverage was just too much to allow the glorious colors of sunset to break through.

Standing on the same jetty as we had on my birthday, the sky was steely grey and the water was relatively calm, waves gently lapping at the shore. The dinging of the bell on the buoy in the water was both solitary and haunting. This was after all where the Orca sat sail in search of that infamous great white. I was walking back towards to parking lot when Neal called me back for the perfect final visual. As the waves rolling into the pond connected with the outgoing tide, swirls were created in the water. At just the right height said swirls created what appeared to be a shark fin.

Cue music.