16 August 2010
Sea Road and Ocean Boulevard
I pass this intersection just outside my neighborhood. I'll actually go out of my way to pass this place........ just so I can look up and see that I am at the crossroads of Sea Road and Ocean Boulevard.
This is one of the reasons I agreed to come here. I wasn't going to leave the city of lakes for nothing; and I most certainly needed something to fill the void left by my neighborhood lakes. Because one must have a destination. A place to go when you walk out your front door for a brisk walk or a leisurely stroll. I've lived in those places before - places without destinations. I'd go for walks and it always felt a little too vague. Like I was trying to stay atop a wavering chalk line. Usually, I'd seek out streets with pretty houses. But it still seemed manufactured: as in "I'm going for a 30 minute walk.......what direction should I go and at what point should I turn around?" Without these flimsy guidelines, I could just chuck it and go home. There was nothing drawing me forward.
But here I have a distinct destination that lies a mere 15 walk from my house. New Hampshire claims just 18 miles of Atlantic shoreline and I'm drinking it in like it'll be gone tomorrow. I keep beach chairs in my car and I have 4 or 5 spots that I've worked into my regular routine. There's the sandy beach with easy parking and ice cream across the street. The rocky beach that's a secret to everyone but my neighbors and me. There's the bike ride past stately sea captain's homes that ends at a rocky edge; I park my bike, climb down the rocks and sit in the little horseshoe of rock and sand until I feel sufficiently fulfilled. And then there's the walking path that hugs the top of the shore so you look down upon the surf. I walk past beach shacks and a tiny coastal garden before arriving at a granite bench dedicated to the memory of Jack Doheny. Sometime after Jack died, Eileen Doheny died - and now there's a foot rest in front of the bench. I'm sorry that Eileen had to die but every time I put my feet up I think "Thanks, Eileen." I don't know who Jack and Eileen were but I imagine they enjoyed this view together. And now I enjoy it for them.
Being this close to the ocean means I can go to the beach for 15 minutes between errands. I can get a quick fix before dinner. It's not something for which I plan or pack or arrange........it's just seamlessly woven into my daily existence. It's my destination. The Atlantic Ocean is my new Lake Harriet.
Since breaking my foot, the beach has been elusive. I can't drive, ride a bike or walk with stability. The sand is shifty under my feet and gets in my boot. The rocks are a gateway to re-injury. So I stay in my new neighborhood. Occasionally hitching a ride for a grocery run. And I'm starting to feel unmoored; like I could be anywhere. Any house in any neighborhood in any community anywhere in this country. Without the sea, this place is losing its shiny new home smell.
So I do my exercises, I ice my foot and I keep it elevated every night to reduce swelling. My foot needs to heal so I can keep the homesickness at bay.