And thus it began; my journey to yet another destination that until now had been on my desire list.
Watching the world that you know pass by through a train window is such an interesting experience. You see it. You recognize it. You know it. Then you see things you don't recognize. You've left behind what you know. The train is taking you away from it. The job, the place you live, the bills, the sidewalk, the subway, the stench of garbage in the summer, the yelling, the traffic. Another destination awaits; a place in time that has been existing without you, but in which you too will soon exist.
As we made our first stop on the LIRR at the Jamaica station I couldn't help but smile as I remembered the first time I'd been to Jamaica Queens. It was 1997. I had been a resident of NYC less than two weeks. I was staying on 107th and Manhattan Avenue with a couple of friends while I looked for a job and a place to live. The subway that took me to their apartment was the B or C line. The B was orange and the C was blue. I new the C was on the blue line so when the E train came I got on it. They were both blue so it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t make the same destination stops. Boy was I wrong. I stayed on that train for what must have been an hour until it reached its final destination in Jamaica. I was embarrassed to ask someone for help. I chose to ride that train to the end of the line rather than get off and transfer to a train that would take me where I wanted to go. On the one hand, I had nothing to rush to my temporary home for. On the other hand, I was a fool to not just ask a question. I didn't want to seem new or uninformed. Most importantly, I didn't want to seem like a tourist. I pretended that what I was doing was what I had intended to do. Some things don't change. I still pretend. I still do foolish things. I will, however, get off the wrong train now when I realize I'm on it.
Row after row of houses passed by and faded into the distance as Queens turned into one small town after another. Anytown, NY. Nothing unique. Nothing special. Concrete and gas stations charging way too much for gas. Small restaurants and hardware stores.
An hour and 27 minutes later with a train change behind me, I found myself on the platform in Sayville, NY. The shuttle bus was already there to transport me to the ferry dock where my carriage to Cherry Grove on Fire Island awaited.
On the shuttle I listened to a couple of guys in front of me bemoan the location where the NYMF show one of them was musical directing was playing: the broken down space with abysmal performance conditions and lack of moderated air conditioning. I met a couple of people sitting beside me who were also going to Fire Island for the first time. I wasn’t going to let on as if it was my first time (tourist issues), but then I thought why not? I don’t know what my problem is with being a first time doer of something. I guess it starts with not knowing exactly what to do and looking like a fool. One thing I have learned about myself since I started writing this blog is that if anything in my life needs to change it’s that I need to make a fool of myself on a regular basis. I need to stop taking myself so seriously.
The ferry ride brought back such fond memories of last June’s ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard and last September’s ferry ride to Provincetown. The difference this time: I was by myself; my first ever vacation alone. I was excited and scared. Maybe nervous is a better word than scared. I wasn’t sure what was going to make this any different from being at home by myself. I don’t often go out alone and if out alone I even less often introduce myself to people. I’m such an odd mix. I can be the social butterfly, belle-of-the-ball at an opening night party or other social gathering, but put me in a situation where I have to be vulnerable and actually talk to a man one-on-one - be a real person- and I almost shut down. Fear of being uninteresting, or undesirable, or looking foolish is the culprit. That’s why I need to just make a fool of myself on a regular basis so that I can get over myself and be.
Okay, so enough with the bullshit of my psychosis. I stepped off that boat into a different world; a world without cars, without bicycles, without pavement. A world where waves could be heard crashing on the shore. A world where people say “Hi” when they pass each other on the walks (The walks are boardwalks that act as streets. In Cherry Grove there are two main boardwalks that run parallel to the water connected by a series of perpendicular boardwalks. Drop the “board” though. People here refer to them simply as “walks.”) A world where it’s okay and normal if you want to be naked on the beach. A world where people live and let live. As a 15 year New Yorker I didn’t know how to react to that. I’m always on guard. The point of the trip was to relax though, right? To escape and relax. Escaping from myself might be on the agenda, too.
I couldn’t help but feel a sense of soul happiness as I stood on the beach and watched the waves of the Atlantic crash on to the shore. There is something about water that refreshes me. I don’t know what it is. I didn’t like camping at the lake as a child. I don’t like fishing. I never enjoyed swimming in the lake. Boating has never been something I sought out. But the waves of the ocean reset me - cleanse me somehow. It’s funny. I never go to any of the beaches that are easily accessible from NYC. Never. But every time I find myself in a resort town (i.e Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, Fire Island) something seems to come alive. Even hearing the waves crash without being able to see them makes my heart lighter. Maybe it has something to do with Gemini being an air sign and water and air being compatible.
Turn left on Bayview Walk. Homes hidden behind fences, gates and tall reeds lined either side. The reeds reminded me of corn. Also lining the walks: trees, bushes and other forms of landscaping. Some of it natural, some of it landscaping. The smell was green and woody with just a hint of the ocean that lay to my right. Continue pass Doctors Walk, Dureya Walk, Green Walk, Gerard Walk and Aeon Walk until you reach Maryland Walk. Take a right and then walk through the gate to the first house on the right.
All the houses in Cherry Grove are named. My home away from home was Casita. I enjoyed the fact that people name their homes here. I am a sucker for that. In some of my own fiction writing I’ve enjoyed naming the homes of some of my wealthier characters.
I looked around the cute little cottage that would be mine all mine for a week. I put my suitcase down in the larger of the two bedrooms then promptly left the house to place my feet in the warm sand that awaited me on the beach.
Soul-cleansing relaxation initiated.