Friday, May 02, 2008

Provincetown / 4

It has been a long time since I've been to the beach. I spend time on Lake Erie, but the area around a Lake is not a beach, even if people call it that. I grew up in Eastern NC, very close to the Beach, within 20 miles or so. My early childhood memories of the beach are not that happy. My father would sit in the pavilion and drink too much beer, get surly, and in the evening drive much too recklessly home.

Adulthood was better. I have good memories of going to the beach with Allen and our children. Allen used to help the boys build fabulous sand castles. There would be moments, usually as the sun was going down, that I'd stare at the waves and feel peaceful. I never thought I'd get a chance to feel that again. I never visit NC anymore, not since both parents died.

The last time I saw the beach was sometime in the early 1990s. We were visiting my parents and it came a terrific snow storm. Snow is so rare there that mother accused us of bringing the snow with us from Ohio. The next day most of it melted and Allen and I, against my mother's wishes (she never wanted us to leave her house when we were visiting; it made her so angry at us) drove to the beach because we wanted to see snow on the beach.

I'm trying to grasp how it will be at Provincetown, living within walking distance of the ocean. I must take my Walt Whitman with me and my Roethke and study how they wrote about the sea. I've forgotten the feeling of being at one while watching the force of the waves. I was on the Pacific coast last September because I taught workshops at Esalen. But the Atlantic and the Pacific are thoroughly different places. There is a majestic quality to the Northern California beaches. But I've missed the Atlantic. Until now I hadn't realized how much I've missed it. It's been much too long.

1 comment:

Erin said...

I love to hear about your history with the beach; I'm so glad you'll get to visit it soon!

I never saw the ocean or a beach as a child, not until I went to the Jersey shore when I was 23 years old. I felt it was overwhelmingly powerful, the vastness, the grandeur. It was something so huge filled with many small creatures and pieces of life. Plus the rhythms were just amazing.

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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