The northern east coast is rocky, rough, curvy and unpredictable. Some beaches are rock formations and some have sand littered with bits of brown seaweed. The smell of the ocean is saltier up north, and there is a consistent fishy smell I can’t quite place but keep experiencing as we travel north. Scoob had a good run this morning without a leash on a deserted beach on Plum Island, and came back to me perfumed with this stank of rotting molding seaweed and fish guts.
This morning, we awoke at the edge of Plum Island, a quite parking lot by the bay side. When I pulled in yesterday afternoon, I was elated to find such a peaceful deserted place. This was where I’d catch up on sleep and relax. For a while, that seemed like the ultimate plan. I took out the solar suitcase, charged the lithium battery, put on sweats and crawled into bed with a book. Not an hour later, bangs of slamming car doors got me up again. A large group of couples with their many children descended on my little paradise to fish the afternoon away. It’s not my beach. I’m the imposter. Exhausted, I pulled the privacy curtain and went back to bed. I don’t know if they even saw me.
As the night came on, the group packed up, and car by car, drove away into the dusk. Alone again, I could relax, and pick up the crying that I had left off. Seemed safe. Scoob and I walked a bit around the bay, and I had a nice light dinner of Vermont brie cheese and MA apples. Something kept catching my eye outside. A shadow moving along the coast back and forth. At first, it looked like a dog, but soon I realized I knew that silhouette all too well. We were being observed and watched by a coyote. I venture back out alone after the elusive beast has run off, and watch the meteors sprinkle down across the cosmos.
Hoping to take in another epic sunrise, I set my alarm for 6:20am. The jarring realization that it was still pitch black was a bit of a bummer. In the twilight of morning, a bird that looks a bit like a heron or a crane is bobbing back and forth on its legs in the water, moving it’s odd neck forwards and backwards as it struts through the lulling surf. Still, committed to seeing it all, I suited up, and Scoob and I headed out to the beach.
The clouds fanning out overhead created a pattern of bones in the sky. a bit of pink peeped through along the horizon, and golden rays attempted to push through the blanket of blue grey clouds crossing paths in the winds. Scoob had a righteous romp up and down the deserted beach, while I combed for little bits of sea glass and shells.
In the van, I have plastic containers I am reusing from Sunbasket deliveries. Each has a bit of something from treasured stops, such as sea glass from Fort Bragg and ceramic bits and rocks from Rockport. I label them crudely with a Sharpee. At some point, I will either combine them all into one Talenti plastic container or something more special. I like that I’ve made these bits of sand, shells, pebbles and glass more precious than any other souvineer I’ve obtained on the road.
Today was a relaxed driving day, working my way a little more up the New England coast through towns like Portsmouth, NH where I stopped to explore unique shops and an outstanding bookstore. People are fascinating, and some find me odd. There is a man struggling to walk with a walker. He looks about my age. I stop and make eye contact, and say hello. He beams and looks up, and says, “thank you.”
The life challenges I’m dealing with are sticky, I can’t smile them off or will them away. I can’t put on a happy face just yet, and not sure I’ll be able to anytime soon. There is this feeling that I’ll never get out of the trouble I am in. Like I’m a little kid and it’s all so overwhelming. This manic feeling is pervasive, similar to an anxiety attack but flowing more steadily through my system like an ironic road block installed on a race track. I feel utterly fucked.
Noshing on popovers with maple butter, and staring at my email inbox waiting for some sort of sign, I realize it’s time to just go and move on.
Winding my way up the coastal roads, I head by beach towns that seem deserted, emptied and shut down. The bright veneer of Memorial Day efforts has been chipped away, and the rust and wear and tear of the coast is blaring. Crossing from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, I drove through a town that had giant metal sails along the shoreline. Once brightly painted, the orange rust popped against the blue green shore. Parking spaces all empty, chair up on tables in cafes, and hotels chained shut. The beach is closed, go home silly. The abandoned shoreline towns, all done for 2019. The footsteps of the summer covered over by bits of sand blowing in the fall breezes.
I desperately need a shower. The sticky film and grease covering me is unmanageable, only hot water and good soap will get this past off of me. There is something sort of fun, and weird about showering at a truck stop. The men behind the counter look at me like they are surprised I’m going in there to bathe. Maybe that’s my insecurity, or a story I tell myself because I think that about myself. It’s not particularly wonderful, it’s sort of like an enlarged motel bathroom. But it’s my room with hot running water, a private toilet and sink. My place and I take my time and use it for all the uses I can think of. I wash dishes, pluck chin hairs, and look at my entire body in the full length mirror. I take my time in the shower. Hot water and privacy have become luxuries to me now.
Continuing up the coast, I see a cheese shop and pull over. The sun is setting and the sky is turning pink, aqua and purple. I notice the shore down the street and some lounge chairs. I lay in one and watch seagulls playing in that stinky seaweed. It’s smells like the stuff all over my dog. I walk over the rocks to take a selfie, and some pictures of the ocean.
“I can take the picture for you!” she says.
I decline, as it’s not a moment I need to cherish or hang onto that badly. She offers again. I’m not really ready for human connection. She keeps talking to me. That’s when I meet Melissa and Bob.
Melissa and Bob started dating two months ago, but they seem to have been friends for a very long time. They have a few things in common, their marriages ended in their partners cheating, they have grown kids who have given them their share of challenges and Bob just kicked thyroid cancer. They are in Maine, celebrating his clean bill of health. Love, they found love again.
They were, of course, intrigued by my story. In my current manic and deeply saddened state, I just wasn’t in the headspace to do my typical soft shoe. At this point, I have a routine I do about my travels. It’s an elevator pitch of sorts that is adorable and covers all the bases. Today, I can’t. I’m raw. My head isn’t in it, and my heart is still aching. Such warm, compassionate people they were. Melissa told me that she cried so many days when her son wouldn’t talk to her. Bob had stories of his own. He tried to cut the mood with some old dad jokes. He even told me I need to learn to laugh and losen up. That’s pretty funny, aren’t I the one who says that typically? Aren’t I the friendly and optimistic bugger? Not today.
What struck me as special was this anecdote that Bob offered. He’s an EMT and has challenges remembering how to spell words. When he writes reports, he often feels flustered dealing with the paperwork of his job. The other day, he brought a patient to the hospital, and he had to do the report. He was feeling rushed and stressed because he couldn’t remember how to spell “academy.” That’s when the moment of lightbulb came. He said aloud, “how the hell do I spell “academy?”
In front of him was an open newspaper with the headline, “Academy Raises 100,000 dollars…. “ The universe provided the answer. Bob said, that was the reminder, if you just slow down and let the universe help you out, it will. Everything works out in life, you’ll see.
The two of them gave me big hugs, and I headed back to the rig to continue my journey up the coast. Tonight, I made it to Ogunquit. I’ve got the perfect spot on the water to watch the meteor showers with the doggo.