Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(Or is it Rockaways? I can never remember. Let's compromise . . .)


Worked turned us over to summer Fridays a few weeks back. I pissed away the first two but decided to make the last Friday count for something. I live on an island but I haven't been to the sea since 2006. I squirted out of work at 1 pm, went home and had a quick lunch and packed up the bag--a towel, sunscreen, floppy hat, water shoes. Took the R to Roosevelt Ave and transferred to the E. Hah. I'm just kidding. I got on a F because I wasn't really paying attention--one of those new, shiny-type trains with the LED display on the front pulled into the station and I got on. Mainly because those trains--on this line anyway--are almost always E trains. So I sat and the stops went by. And by. And then some slow, sluggish instinct spoke up: this doesn't seem right. I don't remember these stops. Sure enough: F train. So I got off. Backtracked a few stops. Still wasn't enough. A few more bouts of back and forth and finally I was at the correct station on the correct train. Out to the end of the E, up the escalator to the street and then up another long long endlessly long escalator to the AirTrans train. Took that around JFK (all the while listening to the guttural mutterings of Germans) to the A train platform. A few house sparrows have built nests in the crevices between the lights and the platform roof and I watch them tend to their noisy, downy young that were just learning to fly. Took the A one stop to Broad Channel and transferred to the Rockaway shuttle. Calexico played me out to the last stop on the shuttle and the 5 minute walk to the beach.

There were people on the beach but not many. Mostly teens with boards, a few Orthodox moms with children, some surf-fishers in moss-colored waders and a lot of beach walkers. I headed west down the beach--my goal was to walk to the very tip of this bit of the Rockaways. (During my last visit to the Rockaways, I headed east.) Sunny, the surf was high and the water cold and indigo. I've never been much of a beach guy--I like beaches, yes, but I quickly get restless if I just sit and read and get red in the sun. I prefer to walk but even that can grow tiresome: hello rocks, hello shells, hello empty horseshoe crab carapace. Hello used condom. This was a good walk, however, but I can tell you little specific about it. I walked to a point when the beach seemed to end . . . and then it didn't. And then I walked to another point where the beach seemed to end--the tip of the spit of land, I was hoping--but it didn't. And yet again I had this experience until I covered what was (by my estimation) four or five miles. It was 6 pm, My skin was pink. My toes were tired from constantly being spread wide while walking in the sand. I started thinking about carnitas tacos and cold beer from the taco place around the corner from my apartment. This beach--while lovely--was no longer it for me. (And by "it" I mean this beach didn't offer tacos and cold beer.) So I turned back and trudged the four or five miles back to the shuttle.

Well, trudged isn't quite the correct word. I cut into the main thoroughfare closest to the beach and walked a mile or two along a street lined with compact but (for the most part) lovely little houses with tightly landscaped lawns. A lot of the New England shanty-shingle style (but the nice, monied version of that style) and more than a few stucco and red tile roof jobbies as well. Cut back out to the beach again after a bit and walked along the boardwalk. Much easier commute, really. Took in all of the buildings directly pushing up to the beach--serried rows of apartment buildings as I got closer to the shuttle. The brick facing on these buildings was heavily corroded and the mortar seemed to have softened a bit. The buildings weren't falling apart by any means but they did look peculiarly tired and slumped, and a bit pock-marked like the guy who played Agent Johnson in Die Hard. (No, the other Agent Johnson.)

The shuttle pulled in just as I got to the station. Rode back to Broad Channel and from there back to JFK--the track travels over Jamaica Bay and vegetation seemed to push up right against window of the car. I saw a few seemingly man-sized white birds as we pulled into the JFK station (egrets, I think but I've never been good with the waterbirds.) The trip back to the neighborhood was much easier than the trip out. Hit the street and got my carnitas tacos and a few Coronas and headed home.


Chris Rywalt said...

I think it's the Rockaways unless you go all the way out to Far Rockaway. Not sure, though.

You shoulda bin lissenin to the Ramones, not Calexico.

beebe said...

The Ramones? Eh.