Just Turn Around

I’m in a writing mood today. And a picture-taking one too. So here’s a bonus round just for you. Thanks for stopping by.

Long Beach Island, NJ, USA 5/21/20

The sign before the bridge leading onto the barrier island along the coast of New Jersey says it all: STAY HOME. Long Beach Island would prefer to spend its day without me. Covid-19 still holds the state in thrall despite the governor loosening some restrictions. The beaches are officially opening on May 22nd for the Memorial Day weekend. Tourism is big industry in my state, shore tourism especially.

A cool breeze off the ocean scolds me too. Perhaps this wasn’t the best of ideas: an overnight escape to my sister’s beach house. There’s no food there, she texted. But there’s plenty of alcohol. Which was true enough, I soon discovered.

Being alone, I did not give into temptation and let the bottles be. The dark Jamaican rum and ginger beer was particularly enticing. If I had some lime, I don’t think I could have resisted. Instead, I mowed their lawn as a thank you. Busy hands and all that.

The house had sat empty most of the winter and spring. The heat was set low to keep the pipes from freezing. I didn’t adjust the dial, but hunkered beneath some blankets and listened to a Johnny Cash CD. The next morning I got up chilled to the bone and walked to the beach, beyond the protective dunes. I strolled just the dry side of the spent waves washing up on the sand. The sandpipers rushed back and forth in their little groups. They look like grey/brown tennis balls with beaks and spindly legs. One turned back to stare at me: I amuse you? I’m here to fucking amuse you? He seemed to say, like a little Joe Pesci bird gangster, not fully realizing he was lighter than the breeze. Finally, he ends his stare down and skitters back to his gang to boast a bit.

I collected the occasional shell along the way. I like the scallops, but I don’t find many. I have a lead crystal bowl full of shells I’ve collected over many shore visits by the front door of my house up north. They remind me of the place I love best in this world. I imagine my children will fight over it when I die, throwing away the shells, but keeping the bowl, not realizing the true value of the memories held within.

This very shoreline, usually so crowded with people, stood empty except for me and the sandpipers and a pittie, that wanted me to play ball with her. Her owner, high on the dune, called her back to her side. Alone again, the crash of the waves soothed me. I’ve walked for miles and I have miles to get back. Part of me wanted to keep walking south until I could see Atlantic City shimmering in the distance, but I just turned back.


#longbeachisland #downtheshore #lbi #exit63 #nj

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