Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Cooling Down, At Last

I love this time of year, when the summer finally begins to leave, regular daytime temperatures get into the 70s, and chilly breezes with that leafy smell start up again. Ah, Fall.

I ask myself (the quintessential polar bear) several times a summer why I stay in hot, sticky Richmond year after year. Inertia is my best answer, followed closely by an appreciation for the history, sane traffic and slower pace that Richmond offers, but those reasons are all fading as I contemplate the world at large and rediscover what it's like to go an entire day without feeling hot and sweaty even once.

In particular I miss the ocean: hearing it, smelling it, feeling the crash and suction of surf around my feet. It's not like I can't drive for a few hours and hear Virginia waves, but despite not having grown up around water, my past visits have been on my mind. Not "beaching it" with suntan lotion and towel (that heat thing - still good, but not optimal), but walking in windbreaker and rolled-up jeans through cold surf and a stiff wind, with thunderclouds rolling in and a storm brewing... The majesty and caprice of nature, right there for tea. It messes with my head, and I love it.

...I remember in particular a Spring Break, and a house in what I think was Nags Head; it was a college thing, and as such there was all sorts of personal drama, but the image I've retained best is the beautiful panorama of an overcast, windy day when swimming was a horrible idea, and I took a long walk alone. Didn't have to speak for hours, and it was just me, the irritable ocean, and a screaming gull or two, flying nearly stationary and nearly inaudible in the wind. It was the totality of solitude, loneliness, potential, and a life barely begun; I came back with salt in my collegiate beard, jeans soaked to mid-thigh from the spray, numbness outside and fire inside, and a peacefulness of self that, I think, changed me for the duration. There was life before that, and life after that.

Anyway, that means I should probably head for the Massachusetts coast, but geez, they're all such socialists up there... ;-) Maybe the Maine, Oregon or Washington coasts, or even southern Alaska...


No comments: