Next To Next

Can you believe, after all this, that a gimmick like weather still works?

In the Pacific Northwest, as you may have heard, it rains all the time. This means that if it is EVER sunny and not raining, the very pale people will don little clothing and hurtle themselves into the outdoors like Siamese fighting fish. It has a real whiff of aggression about it, like Christmas shopping. Must! Appreciate! This! For the sun, like the perfect gift, is elusive.

My gardening coworker Jake and I have a running joke about the things we overhear, called Conversations That Never Happen In L.A. “This day is so beautiful. Do we deserve this?”

My coworker Sarah asked me, “So, this is kind of a morbid question, but what will you do when your property washes away?

Well, it just so happens that I ponder this morbid question all the time! If there’s a tsunami, well, I’m pretty much screwed, taking off driving? running? with my 60 lb. backpack of apocalypse supplies (how DO you carry enough water?), cat in my arms. The better path of action would probably be to hit the bar, like the guy on the Titanic. (Who lived, thanks to the warm glow of the holy spirits!)

If it’s just your garden variety Washaway, there will be some warning. This will entail my excellent neighbors falling in. I cannot emphasize how much I care for my neighbors, Ray, Stanley and Resha, and Craig, who watch out for me and my place.

I saw Craig on the beach and was amazed at how far he wanted to walk in the not-warm sideways wind in his trademark shorts. I was wishing for a jacket. I asked his thoughts about current events and he said he found the process “Exhilarating and depressing.” His house has been in his family over 40 years.

Stanley and Resha, 5/12/12

Craig is between me and Johnny Cash’s oceanfront piles of crap, waterlogged furniture, gutted minivan and more. It is so ugly and irritating I’m not going to dignify it with a picture. It’s hard to know what to wish for. If Johnny Crap’s cash falls in the ocean, then A: It’s in the ocean and B: Then we are lacking the psychological barrier between us and Next.


Marcy brought her friend Steve over to my place, who upon seeing my trailer compound, asked me, “When are you expecting the Indians? I see you’ve circled the wagons.”

The ocean is my Indians, and the opponent is formidable.

I dream of finding a no-frills lot on the cheap where I could move all three trailers and start again, circle the wagons. Perhaps you own such a thing and want to sell it to me?

I am trying to figure out the denial, detachment, and disbelief that I feel. I just savor the sunshine, walking in the warming sand. I complain about having to cut my grass, yet I marvel at the satisfaction the chore brings. I let the sounds of birds and frogs and waves intoxicate me.

It is impossible not to feel unbridled, irrepressible glee, even though it’s all a trick.

I used to go visit my great-aunts, Annie and Vera, in Pennsylvania when Iwas in my 20’s and they were in their 80’s. I was always aware that every visit could be the last. Their house was a perfectly preserved shrine, unchanged over their lifetimes, and I would whirl around, taking pictures constantly of the grottoes of photographs, the kitchen, their shared bedroom, the bathroom with its clawfoot tub and swan wallpaper. I was convinced, superstitious as always, that with enough pictures I would still be able to go there in my mind, smell their cooking and hear their voices.

What I have now are pictures. The house still stands, sold and remodeled, home to a young family. The house is still there. Here it will be different.

Reemerging shipwreck

Cinco de Mayo.

There is a couple who have been salvaging the place falling in at the end of my street. Early in the morning on May 6, they chain-sawed it in half, outpacing the ocean for easier access. They told me it was to improve Ray’s view.

Things have slowed down, yet there are still ominous warnings. My path, my forest! It doesn’t count as a path if you can see the end from the beginning.

Roger’s place, across from where Ray and Juanita used to live,   has been “salvaged” into a pile of waterfront junk. He has relocated locally, but his melancholy is evident.


Artesian well

Now it’s raining again, a percussive drumbeat on the metal roof of my trailer. In between the drum solos, the birds take solos. I sleep in, decadently, both sleeping and listening. Surely I have simple tastes, for I feel that I have everything I need when listening to such remarkable music.



About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at
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2 Responses to Next To Next

  1. bob says:

    I hope you can document this forever. Well, at least until I pass on!

  2. Tony O says:

    Queued to be screwed…

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