Falling Asleep on the Beach

Walked down to the beach
she fell asleep, then I did
not sure for how long

She had just finished exams. I’d just had another week at the office of a nowhere job that just barely telegraphed the semblance of professional career. (What I remember most is my boss telling me that I had to keep a photo of his dog on my desk.)

We decided to go away for the weekend. A no-frills trip up the coast, because we didn’t really have any money to spare, beyond paying rent and the usual monthly expenses. We booked a room at a cheap motel and the rest of the itinerary followed along these lines — a couple of bottles of cheap red wine from a supermarket, lunch from a deli, dinner at a diner. In other words: perfect.

Did I even pack a bag for this trip? Even if I did, I surely wore the same clothes the entire time. I have no memory of anything we did or talked about. I’m not even sure I would remember the trip at all if it wasn’t for this:

We walked down to the beach as soon as we arrived. It wasn’t summertime swimming-in-the-ocean weather, but it was a beautiful day, and people were all about, soaking up the sun. We didn’t bring beach towels. Just found a spacious spot for two and sat down. Eventually, we laid down. She fell asleep. And then I did. We stayed that way for quite some time.

I don’t know for how long. That’s the beauty of it. It’s so rare to be enveloped in that kind of comforting mystery.

The sun going down woke us up. At first I had no idea where I was. But I did feel a distinct warmth, one that made me feel truly rested, and safe, and right where I was supposed to be. Where we were supposed to be. The beach had emptied out. We sat up and let the evening’s quiet be our guide, not to mention the resonance of finding a respite from the relentlessness of what’s next. We were there, the waves were crashing, and the sun was setting on a clear blue sky. We watched it together. The hues of the lingering light are as pure in mind now as they were all those years ago.

Fell asleep on beach
setting sun awakened us
hues stream the sweet dreams


Subway to the Ocean

When you think of New York City, you don’t think of the beach. Tall buildings, taxis, shows, hustle and money and fancy clothes and cuisine, day and night. People from everywhere, walking this way and that, fast.

It’s the city that never sleeps, though it does, in a way that only New York City can, on a moving subway car to the end of the line because you slumbered right past your stop.

Think of it as a dream. This is a city surrounded by water, after all. You wake up early. Let’s not make this about summer. No beach towels and coolers are involved. There’s a snowstorm about to land, so you put on long underwear, wool socks, jeans, a sweater, heavy coat and hat. You lace up your boots with an extra tug.

You leave your apartment and head to the subway. It’s a weekend. The subways are all fucked up. You listen to announcements over muffled speakers and ask, “What did she just say?” Actually, there were no announcements. You just imagined that. No one was saying anything.

Finally, the subway arrives. You hop on and sit down. It’s a mostly empty car, and you embrace the comfort of that, not unlike climbing into bed after a long day and pulling the covers over your shoulder tight.

It is a long ride. You are not even halfway there.

You pulled out a book awhile ago but haven’t read a word. You keep holding on, though, in case you change your mind. Your thoughts are with your eyes, staring out the window, which is able to see out and over distant neighborhoods. You are on the outskirts of the city.

A crazy person gets on the train at a stop you’ve never noticed before, and will likely never get on or off the subway, ever. He’s not yet saying anything, except with his bleary, busted, watery eyes. You look away. He starts to shout. Crazy talk, you understand nothing, other than yes, this person is crazy. You tune him out. He is not there.

Was he ever there? Have you been staring out the window this whole time? You don’t remember seeing anything at all. The book is still in your hands, unopened.
Finally, your stop. You get off the train. You adjust your hat down, rework your scarf, and bring the coat in closer.

The snow began, and it has fallen hard. But it’s a short walk.

In no time at all, you have arrived, and are welcomed by crashing waves, which are just for you. No one else is there.

— Jeffrey Yamaguchi

Traverse to water
chasing turmoil to the crest
welcomed by wave crash