We’re off the grid. We’re on Fire Island. Fire Island - where gays go to tan and where there are miles of beach and ocean and little else. There is actually nothing else where we are staying. The gay enclaves of Fire Island well known amongst our own are The Pines and Cherry Grove. There are shops and inns and dance clubs there, and it is Pride every day. We are not staying in either gay hot spot. We’re miles away in a small, sleepy, tucked away part of the island of which I never heard tell until friends graciously offered us their house for the week.
Those restaurants and dance spots are a water taxi away for those childless inhabitants whose days begin at very late o’clock and end at very early o’clock. We are not those inhabitants. $120 gets our 2 adults and 2 children to Cherry Grove and back again in said water taxi if want to see a bit of civilization. We made one such excursion. It was an expensive ride for penne we could have made ourselves, but the boys absolutely loved the motor boat adventure.
Fire Island was amazing in my 20s. Walking on the beach with my lady, hand in hand on along the water, naked, bronzed, fit, glistening with a summer sweat and salty ocean spray. I may or may not be tweaking the visual just a bit to titillate you with suggestions of nubile beach nudes. Perhaps I was never fully naked nor completely fit, but I was certainly less clothed and definitely more fit. You imagine what you like. What you can also imagine is how much different our experience is now that we’re in our 40s with children.
Sure, there’s the beach. Levi is happy to dig holes and jump waves for hours and hours while Asher complains that there is nothing to do and asks us every 10 minutes if it’s time to go back to the house – to play on his DSi.
There is no television. No cable. No phone. No WiFi. Just the four of us in a house on the beach. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? It would sound wonderful to me…if I were in a coma and my caretaker were wheeling me to the beach to absorb some vitamin D through my inert lump of a body.
Gabriella had been counting the days until she could get out of town and turn off entirely. She works long hours. She brings work home with her. She takes New Jersey Transit every day, which is punishment in itself. A vacation for Gabriella means shutting off and wringing out the stress that has been waterlogging her person for the past year. It means spending time with the children she sees briefly during the week.
Of course, I am with the children all the time. Vacation to me means escaping motherhood. No such luck. Wherever we go here on Fire Island, the children are with us. So, we’re preparing the same meals in a different kitchen and trying to ignore the same piercing whines that we now know can cut through the thunderous sound of crashing waves.
You know that Twilight Zone with Burgess Meredith? The one where he’s a meek, coke-bottled glasses wearing bank teller who dreams of a life where he could do nothing else except read every book ever published? He fantasizes about having all the time in the world and all the books before him without any of life’s interruptions. One day during a lunch break, he steals away to lock himself in the bank’s vault to do some reading, and while he’s in there, some sort of apocalyptic catastrophe wipes civilization off the planet leaving only a bald scalp terrain and left over, half-standing buildings. When he opens the vault door, he sees all the nothingness around him and walks through what was his town assessing the situation. He finds his way to the what used to be the library, and realizes that he is left alone with all the books he could ever read in a lifetime, and he is absolutely giddy. He sits down on the steps outside the library with a pile of books to begin living the life he’s always dreamed of living, leans over to make the first selection, and his glasses fall to the ground and shatter. He cannot see a thing. Books, books everywhere, and not a page to read. The painful irony.
Time Enough at Last, Twilight Zone
I am Burgess Meredith. I am on vacation – with my children. I have my computer to write blog entries for you, but I have no Wi-Fi to post.*
Of course, I’m happy to be on vacation. Happy that we are all together for this week. Happy that we are on a beach where I steal moments of quiet and when I close my eyes, and if the boys have found something to do, I can imagine that there is nothing but ocean and sand and my lady friend. And I imagine that we are 25, fit, bronze and naked. And I smile – just at the same time that Levi has launched a sand grenade at Asher, and I get a handful of sand in my mouth.
*We discovered a sweet spot on our little Blue Lagoon where there is a network for hire by the hour. So, for a few dollars, I’m uploading this post while I sit on a boardwalk and share my vacation with you all.