I’ve gone to the beach on my birthday every year since 1994. Falling into the ocean is no reason to go breaking traditions. Although everything is changed, some things remain the same.
There are the lumpy, shapely islands forming that I call the Turtles, the hallmark of summer.
Now the neighbors on the other side of the street are waterfront, getting looted and trashed. This is the case with the property across from mine, where every blue moon they’d show up with an RV so immense that my friend Steve once shouted, “Riverdance is here!”
I have referred to them as Riverdance ever since. Poor Riverdance.
They were rarely there. I couldn’t figure out why, a big 2-story house and all. Upon closer inspection, it was incredibly rugged, with a breakneck ladder to the second floor and no discernible toilet. Now it is a stew of curious binders and letters in German, with million-dollar views.
While there’s a part of me that’s still curious, there’s definitely the memory of recently being the one whose stuff was on display for the world to loot. And it’s heartbreaking to see, over and over, the demise of places that were cute, that were loved. It’s personal.
Like the Myles’s trailer.
Or this place.
Or this place, which makes me think of some Wild West movie set. Cowboys and villains should be entering and exiting through the pink door to the saloon that I imagine was there.
Or my own sweet Vagabond, now moved up the street and rusted shut. At first glance it looked fine. Anyone can see there’s nothing to take in there. It’s empty, a sacred burial ground.
Honestly, it was more than I could bear. I sat in my car and cried. Sometimes nice memories aren’t enough. Marcy asked me why I continue to visit my old place. I have no good answer. It never gets any better. It’s time to stop, for real.
For my birthday, I set out to create new, better memories of a different beach.
I’ve told you already about the path through the enchanted forest, but it never stops being remarkable.
My friend Susie asked if I’m “fracking” this story now, strip-mining it after all the essential nutrients are gone. Maybe. But if stories happen to those who tell them, I guess I’ll just keep talking.