Infinitesimals out of my life, and many a life,
(For not my life and years alone I give—all, all I give;)
These thoughts and Songs—waifs from the deep—here, cast high and dry,
Wash’d on America’s shores.
WALT WHITMAN | Or From That Sea of Time
Every year in the Easter Spring my family returns to the sea. The houses vary but the place is the same and the plan predictable. Walk; in the morning, before breakfast, after. On the boardwalk, along the beach, through the dog park, across the breakwater, to the sign (WARNING U.S. NAVY PROPERTY RESTRICTED AREA UNDER SURVEILLANCE AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY), touch the fence. Seals on the beach and S.E.A.L.s on the beach (naval-gazing, word coinage © Mum). Wear shoes sometimes; barefoot mostly. Clayton’s for breakfast and Patti LaBelle, or berries in nut milk and fortune telling at the kitchen table. Walk; through the neighborhoods, over to Orange, stars and stripes for each home. To the beach again, eventually, in swimsuits with chair, book, and towel in tow; a hat, sunnies. Read ad infinitum. Trade one book for another, cover to cover, chapters interrupted only by mad runs into the surf — April, cold — and out again.
Walk; in the late afternoon, as the sun sets, seagulls on security detail when you leave your beach camp for sea-scavenging (shell, skeleton, sand dollar, seaweed) and the ground gold-flecked. At least once: Burger Lounge, La Salsa, Yogurt Escape. Off-duty officers at a street corner in their service khaki. The annual pilgrimage to Seaside Papery, rite of passage: butterflies, one strand. Fairy lights on the back porch or hammocks on the front porch. Shared rooms, windows open, sand between the sheets; fall asleep mid-sentence, mid-syllab—