Summer should be gone by now. kids are back to school, the outdoor swimming pools shut down, it's 9/11, corrosion of mourning, yet these are the sweetest days, like summer camp last days, mixture of sadness that it ends and resolve to stuff in all the loveliness you can muster to tie you over till next year.
To Brighton Beach I go. Daily. It's my job to be the plaything of waves, bask in the sunshine, darkening skin, be the sand's nesting, hatching creature. I meant to say bird, but I'm rather a turtle.
Anyway, poetic I feel on the sunny beach of Tuesday. Come Wednesday, weather reports alert me there shall be rain on Brighton Beach. I say bah to weathermen. How many times they said rainy weekend, rainy weekend, don't go Upstate into the forest camping, rainy weekend! and it was sunshine. But, a dutiful part of this city's social fabric, I exercise my right to call 311 and find out if the beach is open. I expect De Blasio to do better than Bloomberg. Last time I called 311 to find out where was the exact location of a recycling event the municipality organized, they moronized on the phone for 15 minutes and still couldn't get me an answer. They said I should Google it. I told them they should step it up, the city is going to the dogs.
This time the lady said there is no storm alert, I'm good to go.
Alright. I go. I get of the train, rush to the boardwalk. People leaving the beach, the inland half of the sky is a dark compact cloud, but above the ocean sunshine and fluffy, wispy clouds. I put on my swimsuit, proceed walking towards the water, barefoot in the tickling sand. Reluctant fellow beach goers fold their chairs, gather their paraphernalia, fold umbrellas and walk off the beach. The young lifeguards would not cease whistle blowing and goading everybody to get off the beach. Out of the water, out, out, out. If lightning hits the ocean we shall all die and they gonna be reprimanded. The city will have to pay a motherload for negligence if someone croaks in the water.
Alright, alright, hold your horses, i'm gonna comply, but I won't go back to Manhattan. I'm gonna toughen it up, and after the storm, I'm gonna be in the water, and you shall sit in your lifeguard chair in your orange shorts until closing time. I shall get what's mine.
Now, on the boardwalk there's but one pavilion where you can stay dry, aside from the Tatiana, Volga, and other Russian restaurants. I've never been in the pavilion, gazebo, whatever you call it. Well, I step in, goodness, it's Homeless Central. Benches are covered in food leftovers, rice, fish bones, bent aluminum foil plates/containers. Some fiercely stinking bums sleep on benches, others horse around with eyes drugged up. And the human stench. What is the municipality doing?! Hose the place down! Scrub it!
I scurry into the corner where the lifeguards took shelter. Two lovely Russian girls follow me, daintily placing their totes on the bench, but I can't sit down in that attack of odor. I stand by a pillar that blocks the waft of squalor, I bend to breathe in the freshness of rain. First it drip drops, making tiny nests in the sand, like a pimply moon surface, or post pimply, minute craters. Then one lightning cuts the sky jaggedly, its thunder astounds us, and on and on it downpours, its freshness its mist takes over the right side of the pavilion, then the rain drenches it, as the wind hits obliquely, so people migrate to the other side. A girl huddles near me, saying sorry for crowding in, but we were the only normal looking people on the premises. We laugh. We even eat now our sandwiches. On the beach a fellow jogs unperturbed by the whistling lifeguards. Oh, you thrill seeker, you defiant insect shall die by the wrath of God. Thunders make us shriek, the entire pavilion buzzes elated. The rain now drenches our side so we move in the center. The slow motion bums cover their heads and shoulders with a felted beige cloth, dry grass and burs stuck on it. They move in a tight circle, like in a dance. A radio plays a tune from under a guy's bottom. He sits on it so he won't get wet, I guess. He is highly amused. High, so amused. Whatever.
I feel sorry for them, I have two people in my past who bummed out of the system. Yet, the fumes of self indulgence, their murky eyes, I abhor.
Half of the sky brightens up. Look, look, I point to the dainty Russian girls, look! A double rainbow!
When they realize what I point to, they flip their Iphones and well, take pictures. I should not bitch. I lived a life of hunting pictures, the camera between me and life, kept isolating distance.
Here and there people get back on the beach. I cautiously follow their example. One even gets into the water and swims away. Well, I march on sloshing into the ocean. I don't care if seaweeds and children toys float about. The 311 lady said the beaches are open, no rain, I shall get my swim.
But a whistling Park and Recreation green shirt lady, screams, running towards us, we should get out immediately. Another fellow comes, puts down his backpack and tells her in a heavy Russian accent, what's the problem? I want to swim. It's not six o'clock, closing time. I want to swim. The woman harps on, we are all in danger of dying. The strappy fellow rolls his eyes. I just walk away, along the foamy sand towards Coney Island. A portion is marked with a string of plastic red flags, forbidden, forbidden. I pass by a large group, all ready to buggy. Three mothers with infants held tightly in their arms, stand in the gently tumble of the ocean. Two elderly ladies with matching one piece black swim suits topple into the water. Further on four guys place their belongings in a heap and take their clothes off. They look like body guards. I doubt the whistling lady will mess with them, so I go into the ocean and don't get out of there until I get my fill.
the sun takes over the sky. I walk into it, golden ray dress my skin with warm kindness. I reach a lookout, a pier, a promenade jutting into the ocean. I jump over its fence, and walk to the end of it. A two-generation family, elderly mother and younger woman dressed in saris, take pictures with strained smiles, rainbow in the background. By now the rainbow it's not double anymore and what's left of it is disconnected, cut to pieces by clouds. Exactly like the American Dream, fellow suckers!
When I walk back I converse with a white-haired fisherman. He's proud he's from mere Brooklyn. Just Brooklyn, no exotic origin. He laughs when I ask him if he caught any mermaids yet. They're not biting, they're just playing. He warns me I should not walk back along the beach, because there are many psychos and derelicts by the water. Keep safe on the boardwalk. I try to follow his advice, but midway by a grouping of wire garbage bins, a robust man feeds seagulls bread. He screams at me I should go sideways because the birds are dangerous, they know him, but they'll attack me. I just can't walk away. I am under their spread wings floating on the air currents, ever so gently, their feet straight like ballerinas on points. Their screech, a dissonant orchestra, arresting when it flares up each time the man throws a bagel in the sky. They fight over it. So many wings afloat. I just don't understand how up to now I always found them repulsive, when they walk awkwardly on the sand, beady eyes, Pinocchio beaks, big fat bodies, sticks for legs, and now the wonder of them. I am less than them, I can't fly, fly, up in the sky.
The other day I was walking my kitten, Sebastian. He was sniffing information along a fence. There was plenty of space to walk by us on the side walk. Yet, a tall, bow-legged white man came full force ready to trample on Sebastian, yelling at me that he has the right of way over a cat. I told him, Sir, Sebastian is a creature of God, like you. Oh, no, he hollered back, I am superior. No, you are not, I fought for my Sebastian. You are not. He turned the corned screaming, just watch what will happen next time to your cat. Suddenly I saw him dressed in KKK hatred. You, Sir, are actually less than my Sebastian. Later I thought I should have told him that I knew too well what shall happen to my Sebastian if he comes our way again. Sebastian will pick up the phone and call 911 and report animal cruelty and throw his ass in jail.
Anyway, under the symphony of wings I was. Suddenly a young couple starts videotaping the man feeding the birds. In vain he forbade them and asked them to go away, the couple advanced for a close up of the screaming mad man feeding seagulls, the next Facebook sensation. Or Youtube? Instagram? one of those. Vimeo. Oh, the narcisistic downside of social media...
I walked away towards the ocean, sunshine on my back, and neared its foamy splashes. Indeed a scary looking man, face redand puffy sat by a suitcase, sprawled legs, water washing on him. I sped up. An elderly lady talking to herself picked up two pennies from the sand. I found a quarter. She told me lucky, lucky, when I opened my hand and she saw the carbuncled coin.
Back on Brighton Boulevard, I bought 3 lb of brie cheese for $2, and I got on the train, sand still wet sticking on my feet.
Felt like raspy gilding.