Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The greatest thing about Block Island, aside from it being the only place that can ease my city summer-induced homicidal rage, the only home that's ever made me want to cry every time I leave, and the place where I someday want to die, old and withered and leathery tan, is that its initials are BI, so everyone drives around with BI stickers on their bumpers. For someone who was raised to accept -- nay, embrace, and hopefully one day become -- all things homosexual, I have always enjoyed that Block Island, a tiny, mellow beach town, gives a little unwitting shout-out to bisexuals everywhere.
It monsooned when Jeff and I arrived and again when we left, so the difference between rain-soaked, crap-ass New York and sun-dappled, breezy Block Island was depressingly stark. I can't even describe the weather there -- so I'll quote myself, from an essay I've been working on:
It is early morning and I am the first one up. This feeling has always been a favorite of mine, and unique to Block Island, where waking up early has rewards far beyond catching your subway train on time. Dark night sky gives way to thick morning fog, houses slowly coming into view on the horizon as if being built from the ground up by the rising clouds. The sea, too, unfolds gradually, making its way toward the distant shores of the mainland. It is not quiet; birds chatter, the wind whistles, leaves rustle in tandem with the muted crashing of waves. It is not quiet, but it is peaceful in a way I have never experienced anywhere else.
It was sunny and gorgeous on Saturday, and Jeff got up "butt early" (he is a wordsmith, that man of mine) to photograph the sun rising over the North Light, one of the two lighthouses on the island. At 9 am, we went down to the -- get ready, I'm about to coin a phrase -- retardedly quaint Farmer's Market. Seriously, there is no better way to describe it. It's like ... well, there's a mom-and-pop duo who play a jug band version of "Ob La Di, Ob La Da", there are farm stands run by cute old people wearing overalls, and there's a bell that gets rung when it's time to start shopping (before 9, you have to line up in front of your "first pick" booth, which is almost always the muffin and scone stand). It's held in a little dell off the road, called Negus Park, and walking into it feels like finding a wormhole into a sweet fairie town, or a Nick Jr. cartoon circa 1988 (David the Gnome, anyone?).
We went to Mansion beach, so named on account of the giant mansion that used to overlook it, until it burned to the ground some year that Google apparently doesn't know. Jeff and I were easily the whitest people on the beach (I'm pretty sure tanning is Rhode Island's national pasttime, as my relatives always make fun of me for my cancer-free complexion, and my father's sunburn mantra, which he passed down to me, is "Don't worry! It will fade to tan"). We frolicked in the waves, fell asleep in the sun, offering up our alabaster flesh to the UV gods, and collected rocks. After the beach, we cleaned up and walked down to Dorie's Cove, a rocky stretch of beach near our house, with the intention of taking a flattering portrait for our New York Times Weddings bid. Instead, we ended up taking a series of artsy photos for an imaginary Abercrombie and Fitch campaign:
When we got back to the house, my mom's friend Karen was nice enough to take a more Times-friendly portrait. Look, we're WASPs!
A brief aside: I read the Times wedding announcements weekly, being as they are, quoth Carrie Bradshaw, "the straight woman's sports pages", but I always make fun of them. Why I want to be one of those poor assholes is beyond me. I just do. (Note: check out how our eyebrows are on exactly the same line. One of the NYT's aesthetic regulations.)
The rest of our vacation was spent beaching, drinking, eating, and nature walking. The latter I have finally come to enjoy after years of reluctance, though I still have yet to display an interest in bird watching, to my mother's dismay. What I can enjoy is my mother's favorite game, which I like to call "Imaginary Renovations". She lusts after a house to call her own on the island, and practically every house we pass inspires a reverie beginning "If I owned that house ...", followed by descriptions of wrap-around porches, re-painted trims, and the violent removal of garden kitsch and/or property name plaques reading "Tidely Idely" or "Mellow Yellow". I hope one day that one of the imaginary properties becomes available, and that my mother is there to snatch it from its negligent owners and make it beautiful.
I was sad to leave on Monday, sadder than I think I've ever been. A back-breaking, sanity-testing work week loomed in New York, and as I stared out at the shore from the deck of the house, watching the boats pass on a languid sea, I tried to breathe it all in, to suck enough into my blood to last me the twelve months until I would see it again. As I do every year, I looked out at the horizon and imagined what my life would be like the next time I stood on this deck. I knew that I would be a married woman, but the rest of the year floated out among the clouds, a great, delicious unknown. So many things can happen in a year, in a life. So many changes can happen in a person, in a heart. But Block Island is always there, always a constant, always a comfort. And knowing that is the only way that I can bring myself to leave.