First off, before anything else. . . I made a mistake in yesterday's post. In "Waiting for Godot," two people wander and wait. Vladimir and Estragon have one another. I should have referenced one of Beckett's other plays, "The Goad." But then. . . not so many people are familiar with that.
O.K. Now that that is cleared up. . . I DID leave the house yesterday. Yup. It took me awhile. I was dragging my feet, probably trying to find an excuse for staying in town. Eventually, however, I loaded up the car with many kinds of cameras and film and headed into the horizon. It was already ten. But the interstate was moving well and quickly, and I made my journey to the coast in record time. Traffic in the fast lane was moving along nicely at around a consistent ninety miles per hour. I was at the beach by quarter 'til eleven.
And that included a drive down a main artery into town. I chose this as I was not looking to be a tourist on the beach but was traveling with a photographic eye. I planned to stop and take pictures any time I saw anything of interest. But all the stopping and going. . . I had to pee. I spied what looked like a closed or abandoned building right on the highway. "There," I thought and pulled over. But there were no bushes, no dumpsters, so I pulled my car close to the building so I could stand between and pull out my Johnson to take a whiz. "C'mon, c'mon," I said, my old man's prostate protracting the whole thing, and the more tense I got about it, the longer it took. I was sure a cop would mosey by at any moment.
Business done and Johnson back in the garage, I was off. I had come to "The World's Most Famous Beach." It had to be true. There were huge public displays claiming it everywhere. But the town has seen better days. It dropped its claim to Spring Break fame many years ago, and now the town is trying to cancel its famous Biker Week. It has been cleaning up the sleaze along the waterfront, but the town itself is still full of bikers and methheads.
I found a place to park on the street in front of the Boardwalk, grabbed my digital Canon camera with the big zoom lens, and headed off. To my chagrin, however, all the old amusement places had been destroyed. Not just closed and shuttered, but demolished. There was nothing to see. I walked out to the old fishing pier past all the fishermen, stood awhile looking out to sea, and snapped a few photographs, but I didn't have it in me to ask any of them to pose with the fish they had caught that morning. Indeed, the crowd was already looking at me and my big camera with that contemporary suspicion that borders on aggression and violence.
I meandered back to my car.
I headed south on A1A, stopping any time I saw a "remnant of the past." Those remnants, however, are barely interesting. The old motels had often changed their signs out sometime in the mid-eighties, so they did not have that "vintage" feel. The motel themselves advertised cheap room rates. Pulling into the parking lots and getting out with my camera was a real effort. Run down room doors were often open, people sitting outside on the thin strip of cement walkway in old plastic chairs, coolers or boxes of whatever littering the sidewalk beside them. These were not people I wanted to talk to. They weren't here for a frolic at the seashore. Nope. These were people with a little cash and nowhere else to go, a community of criminal drug addicts, if you will. I've done this before. Once, I was surrounded by a group of fellows emptying out of who knows where like ants from a disturbed mound wanting to know why I was taking pictures. I did some fast talking that time. Good thing I have an active imagination. So, now that I am not in "fighting shape," I chose to park on a side street and mosey up along the road. Still, I got some non-welcoming looks.
In the end, none of it was really very interesting.
I did this all the way to another beach town. I drove through the mainland downtown. I crossed the causeway and drove through the beachside downtown. The sun was shining and people were out. Parking was out of the question. Streets were packed, lots were full. I could have parked a mile away and walked, but the profit just didn't seem to be there. So. . . being that it was lunchtime, I headed off to one of my favorite French bakeries to get a turkey and provolone sub. . . to go.
Back in my car, I drove back to A1A and travelled south for a bit, then turned down a side street and parked before one of the little wooden beach crossovers where I planned to eat and watch the sea. And just as I got settled, a fellow walked up.
"Do you surf?" he asked.
"I did when I was a kid," I said.
That was it. The fellow who was my own age, just rattled off question after question. New to town, looking for surf spots, surfed all over the world. . . . As I ate, I got his life's history. I obliged him. I know people. This fellow needed to talk. As his story ventured from his being good enough to play Division 1 college basketball to the injured ankles that kept him from it which led him to surfing, to his days living in Indonesia and detailed descriptions of the good and great surf spots, the period and height of wave break in each place, the money he made working for the oil companies to the divorce that stripped him of everything. . . I got it all. He was living on Social Security now, he said. He had just rented a 200 square foot apartment somewhere near. He loved Jesus. He had learned how to be poor.
Fortunately, Q decided to FaceTime me while this was going on. I turned the camera around to show him his old home state, then back to me, handsome fellow, wind tossing my hair.
I was able to escape shortly after.
Speaking of Q. . . I got up to a text this morning from him: "Check your front porch."
Ominous words, indeed. What could it mean.
It was a package from Amazon, of course. He had sent me a book, "Atlas Obscura" (link) (link). I haven't had a chance to peruse it, yet, but it looks like one of those Cabinet of Curiosities collections of weird shit all over the globe. Good. Nothing heavy, just imaginative fun.
But back to my tale (which isn't much of one at all but is the only one I have). After lunch, I decided I'd had enough of the beach and that I wanted to stop at a spook town on my way home. The Spook Town is famous as a home for Spiritualists and Mediums, ghost citings, seances, and fortune telling. You can even have your aura read. Established in the mid-19th century, it has long been renowned for its powerful vortex.
I hadn't been there for decades. The small sixty acre town was overrun on a Saturday afternoon. The main attraction, the historic old hotel, was unphotographable because of people and cars. I tooled around town looking for something interesting, but the town seems to be falling apart from neglect. Handmade signs advertising readings dot many of the small front lawns. There was nothing to see there, so I moved along.
I took backroads I had never been down before looking for something--anything--to make a picture of, but by and large, the day was a bust.
No, not the day. The day was a good one. But the photographer just didn't get the job done.
It was late afternoon by the time I tooled back into my own hometown, so without stopping at my place, I headed straight over to my mother's and chatted for a good long time before I brought my weary self back home. A bottle of kombucha and a cheroot on the rotten deck with my hungry cat as the sun began to set. The tenant strolled by coming back from her walk, and we chatted for awhile. I had had more conversation in the past several hours than I had had in weeks combined. If I hadn't come home with a hundred good pictures, at least something was had.
This was the end to a day that really demanded a deep pouring of scotch. However, Dry January being what it is. . . I made my non-alcoholic way to the kitchen to prep dinner. I decided on something new. Briefly: in a deep Chinese bowl, jasmine rice, one chopped avocado, three diced cloves of garlic, kimchi, two eggs, red pepper. Mix and chow.
Holy smokes! That's a good meal!
In closing, I will admit it was hard getting out of town. I was nervous about everything from the car breaking down to needing restrooms. Silly shit I never in my life would have concerned myself before. It was prep. I am ready for some overnight trips around the Sunshine State now. Slow trips across backroads, slow motion travel. Perhaps I will become interesting again.