August 7, 2013
Picking my son up from an afternoon at the beach which just happened to be one of the beach clubs in the town I grew up in, the very same beach club I spent childhood summers at - and the guy at the entrance shrugs when my husband and I ask if we can go in and find him. Lovely, a surprise jaunt back in time...down the steps, the smell of the sea seems to funnel through the old wooden lockers, still remember how creeped out I was as they had no lights in the little ones way back when...much better the bigger ones with a lightbulb later on. Walk past the old photos of swim teams on the wall, the children smiling up are now adults with children of their own. It was like stepping into an old photograph come to life, so odd yet truly delightful. Seeing this old clothes wringer was like the touchstone to time travel, I remember rinsing off my suit, wringing it out before we went home, this rush of memories. This is the stuff of mythology, of poems and lines in short stories, woven into dreams, bedrock of memory. My Father after work scanning the beach for us, my mother and her thermos of iced or hot coffee, my sister, always the better swimmer, out on a float with friends while I stayed on the beach playing mermaid in the water, nets and little silver fish. What has changed - everything and nothing. Children run the beach, the mommies watch and chat. The beach is so small compared to my memory, the long walk out to the Point not so long, the walkway not so wide. One of the steps down at the Point is gone, a float is moved closer, a different float is gone. Lifeguards don't allow kids in the grass, on the rocks, did they back then? I remember a nook in the rock wall that is gone, I remember sitting there wrapped in a towel when it was raining. Something about it, I can see why I love old French paintings of beach scenes, the very civilized settings where it is almost a still life, a tree here, a bather there, a gazebo, an striped umbrella. My son is unimpressed at the swooning comments of my husband and I, lost in memory. For him it was just a fun day with pals, of course. The rosehips climb the fence and I am in Cape Cod, in Nantucket, at every and any Connecticut beach, the scent of roses and salt, my younger self, my children's younger selves, our lives always tied to the east coast, the Long Island sound, waters off of New York and New England. We walk for the car and the ribbon of memory unties and slips off into the light summer breeze, heading out somewhere in all that blue.