June 21, 2010

Salt Days

My summer days are whipping by and I feel myself toeing for the brakes. I try not to miss it. I try not to let the uncertainty of what is coming steal joy from my summer. My summer, my summer. Laura's birthday was last week and I found that it was not much at all. What would she think of this, of my presence here? What would she think of everything that has happened? What would she regret missing, had she the chance to regret?

In the hot afternoons I bike the mile and a half to the beach at Tin Can Alley and dive into the warming waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I am afraid of jellyfish, but haven't seen any yet. The salt water is hot now, and at night if the temperature of the air dips into the low eighties the wind off of the bay is warm against your face. I swim out to a sandbar, far from the beach, and float around on my back. Once, walking on the soft bottom, I scared a stingray and it went streaking through the shallows, three feet wide and dark. I'll admit, I screamed. Islanders and non-islanders come to the beach and lie on the sand, a half-collapsed house in an abandoned field the backdrop to our summer. Kids play Marco Polo near the shore, and I laugh at their game. The bay is so expansive, so free from a swimming pools boundaries, and they never find each other. They just yell and yell and burn and I wonder, who came up with this stupid game? On my way home I often stop to pick wild blueberries. I get poison oak and poison sumac and mosquito bites all up my legs but somehow it feels just right--like the summer I never fully had as a child.

The kids on the island are out of school now and they run free, racing up and down the lanes long past dusk. Chasing sunsets across the island with a camera in one hand, I run across them. They hunt lightning bugs in the fields and play hide and go seek in the woods and sometimes they play tag on the main road, hiding behind houses and cars. Their home is an enviable one, and I am glad to share it with them. I feel more kinship with them, often, than with their parents, who wave at me from cars and lawn mowers and their front porches. I ride by, sunburnt and salt-haired. This evening I was passed by one particularly unfriendly teenage boy who shares my road, and said hello, and was ignored. When I reached the main road, there he was, handing smuggled beers to two teenage girls from a Jansport backpack. I laughed aloud, so anxious were their faces. As I biked past one girl opened the tab of her beer and it exploded, eliciting screams. I went to the beach and hung my dress on my bicycle and jumped in the water and tried not to think about leaving. I try not to think about regrets, and I am happy. Some moments I am so happy in this place that I feel like I am brand new. I remember, we were children once, before this happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment