06 April 2013

wait an hour or so

I used to spend summers in Delaware. It's strange to write that now; it seems a epoch ago. But from 1979 to 1987, my parents and I would pack the car with enough of our material goods to last 8 or 9 weeks and drive from Boston to Bethany Beach, an Atlantic seaside town that claimed, rightly or wrongly, to be the body-surfing capital of the East Coast. We'd eat Chesapeake Bay crab and corn on the cob for pretty much the entire summer. Days were spent on the beach and evenings at water parks or mini-golf courses. If it rained, the family went to the movies. In the summer of '84 it was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters. In '85, it was The Goonies. I learned to ride a bike and saw my first snake in the wild, which duly scared the living shit out of me. 

I was allowed to eat the sugary-sweet cereal that my mother usually forbade.

The days at the beach were spent mostly in the water; sometimes with a boogie board, sometimes with raft, sometimes without either - swimming and failing to dodge waves. The lifeguards only had to save me once, I think, which isn't bad over the course of 9 summers. There was some manner of riptide and it pulled me out and before I knew it, I was being pulled back in. The lifeguards were nice to me and my summer friends. We didn't realise they were hitting on our older cousins that would visit us. 

Lunch tended to be of the packed variety. PB & Js with a healthy dose of sand. Those awesome flip-top bottles of Grolsch that had been rinsed and filled instead with homemade lemonade. Damn we looked cool; a bunch of ten and eleven year-olds drinking lemonade out of vintage beer bottles. We fucking swigged that lemonade, man. 

And then came the wait. Full of sandy sandwiches and lemonade, all we wanted to do was jump back in the water. Lunch was nice and all, but most days it seemed like an annoying break from the relentless, joyous pace of play. But worse than the sandy sandwiches was the parental directive that followed it; we had to wait an hour before we went back in the water. The hour took seven in our heads. Every five minutes we asked if we could go in yet. It was the are-we-there-yet of the days at the beach. We wore Jams and had that weird zinc shit on our noses and under our eyes. We were neon-and-pastel-adorned kids in the eighties and we wanted to go swimming no matter what time it was. 

We could've built sand castles or played paddle ball. There were volleyball nets. But no, we wanted to do what we couldn't. The threat of cramps didn't scare us. But wait we did, disgruntled and impatient. 

This morning I made an espresso and poured myself a big bowl of cereal. I watched highlights from last night's baseball games and read a bit. And now I'm writing this post and remembering those summer afternoons because I can't quite go for my run yet. I have to wait a few hours after eating before going for a run. I'll feel quite ill if I don't. So I pace and fill the time and bounce on my toes to keep my feet and legs loose. 

I'm less petulant about it these days, but not by much.


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31 March 2013


It's usually around this time of year that I do a big wool wash. All the winter jumpers and scarves go into the machine, I double check the detergent to make sure it's the wooly one, and then double check the setting on the machine to make sure it's the wooly one, and away we go. I'd lay them flat to dry where I could, but usually just draped them on a drying rack and hope they didn't get too deformed. Once they were dry, I'd put them away for six months or so. They weren't needed anymore. Spring and summer were for cotton and linen, not wool. 

The clocks went forward in the wee hours last night and it's British Summer Time now, in name only. It's too cold to wash the woollens and put them away for a couple of seasons. The sun's out and glorious, but brings little heat.

I came down with another cold. Or maybe it was the remains of the last one, come back to haunt me. It knocked me out a bit, seemed to put everything on pause: it's still winter; there's still writing to finish. 

Instead of the wool wash, I tidied the house from top to bottom. The sort of thing writers do to not write. As well as the house, I tidied my desk, finding too many card receipts for too much money from too many bars. I chucked all the loose sterling change into a jar and piled all my Euro cents into neat stacks for the next to trip to France, whenever that may be. I have no idea where I've put my US currency, nor do I know when I'll need it next.

I like writing at a tidy desk, but I can write at a messy one, if needs be. Vonnegut rails against the idea of 'perfect writing conditions', and he's right. All you need is a certain loneliness, and the need to fill that void with words. No other conditions really necessary.

Except maybe a pen, paper, or a computer. 


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