I assume that like most people, I have places in my life that are more like special sanctuaries or places of reverence than anything else. These are places that lead me toward feelings of comfort or solace. I come here when I need comfort or a place to go to think or find understanding, which is odd because I come here most when the place is empty.
I assume everyone has or needs a place like this. Well, I have a few places like this.
Like the beach for example. Or more specifically, the beach at Point Lookout. I have seen this place in every phase of my life. I have been here in my earliest memory. I have walked here in the winter time and in the spring, in the fall and, of course, I have been here when the sands are filled with bodies on blankets, laying out to let the sun toast the skin.
I have been here in troubled times and happy times. I have been here when my finances were satisfied as well as when my pockets were empty and my gas tank wasn’t far behind.
I have seen this place on clear days and on days when the sky appears ominous and angry, as if the heavens are about to open up in a storm and force us all to take cover. Something about this has always seemed fitting to me.
There’s something about the upcoming threat of a big storm and how the sky warns us to seek shelter. I think there is something relevant. I think that sometimes, the heat of our lives makes us crazy and like the hot days of summer, sometimes a storm breaks out – just to kill the heat or break the tension of our sorry little fiascos.
I have walked this beach from the rocks by the inlet and watched commercial boats set their course and the family cruisers set their sights on the local fishing spots. I have seen the local fishing boats set their courses to places like the Pink Hotel, which is somewhat close – or to the Cholera Banks where the lobster pots are, which is about nine miles out (nautical miles, that is) – or to the Yankee Wreck, or the other spots such as The Virginia, The Texas Tower, or The Hudson Canyon which is 72 miles out from the Jones Beach Inlet and a place that I’ve fished on a few occasions.
I have stood on the shoreline at the beaches of Point Lookout and told my secrets to the outgoing tide. I’ve come here to give confessions on an empty beach, seasonally vacant, and I have stood here in quiet supplication to make peace with myself or to whomever it is that might be listening.
I have come here after long, late nights out with my so-called friends or after a moment of lovelessness, wishing and hoping that somehow I could find my way.
See me, over there?
I am standing on a sand dune at daybreak. It is summertime and the morning after another night when I was out late.
My fashion is different at this time. I am more updated than my younger or less-fashionable years.
I am in a suit. I have a thin silver necklace around my neck and two silver hooped earrings in my left ear. My hair is long, all one length to about the tops of my shoulders.
I am not small anymore or puny. I am in the midst of different changes.
I am dressed from the night before, standing with an offshore breeze blowing in my face. I’m wearing black pants and a black coat with a black buttoned down shirt, which is no longer tucked in and my collar is open, spread across the lapel.
I am young and still defiant and I still have so much to learn.
I have so many layers to shed before I get back to my true self.
That’s me, over there.
Trying to pull off my look by retrieving a pack of Camels from the inside pocket of my coat. I cup the end like a well-dressed rebel, smooth, like someone in a movie, and pulling out my cigarette lighter in a pattern that’s been rehearsed by more people than just me. I light my smoke.
That’s me, over there, blowing out my first drag up into the sky.
I am young and tested yet I have yet to be tested by life in ways that I had never imagined.
I am watching the waves and the wind is blowing through my hair. Meanwhile, the colors of dawn are streaking across the horizon. There are peach details of a softly colored sunrise painting the sands as the new morning sun reflects its early warmth across my face.
There are so many things I want to see. There are so many things I want to touch and so many things I want to experience yet I don’t know how.
See, I never knew how to stand on my own – except when I am at places like this.
I never knew how to be still or sit comfortably – except in places like this where my mind is comforted. I view this as the honest purity of The Mother; like a child in the bosom of The Great Mother, herself – gently stroking the hair away from the baby’s face to ease into peace – gently.
I never knew that this is just life; that since this is life, nobody gets out alive. That in life, everyone is subject to change, deviation and alteration.
There were times like this one –
I remember driving home from a long night out in the City. I remember the need to be “in” or the poses or the different acts of trying to be “cool” and I remember the exhausting substance of the crowd and the fake pretenders and the pretentious bullshit or the arguments of which places are better because the price of admission is higher.
I liked the fashion of the times. I liked the energy of my City. I liked the music. I liked the dances and the places where the City showed herself to me. I liked the energy in the downtown spots in SoHo or the Village.
Yet, there was a symptom of loneliness. There was a momentum of something inside of me; something that was proving to be mismatched or something that didn’t fit. Yet, there was something building up inside of me that wished I could stand up and walk away. I knew there was something out there for me.
I wanted to be free, to push my chair out from the table where I sat, stand up, push my chair back in and simply walk away – to be happy.
I can recall driving after the long nights ended with the crowds behind me. I’d drive by my exit to the place where I called home.
I continued south on the Meadowbrook Parkway over to the Loop and across the Loop Parkway Bridge and then straight into the parking lot of the beach.
The beach at Point Lookout.
I’d come here when moments confused me or if my heart felt an indescribable ache that words cannot not seem to explain.
I’d come here when looking for a safe haven, to speak or to tell my secrets, or to just smile and watch the birds fly over the sea.
I used to walk here when I was a very small boy. The Old Man used to take me here when I was very little. In fact, this was a custom of ours on New Year’s Day.
The Old Man and I would put the struggles between us to rest and, each year, we’d walk for what seemed like hours to me. Each year, I’d always make sure to step in one of his footprints in the sand.
It’s because at the time of my young admiration and regardless of any challenges between us, I wanted to be more like him.
So, in my mind, if I could step in one of his footprints, perhaps I could follow in my Father’s footsteps. And be more like my Father –
See me there? I’m looking out to the sea. I am grown and I have yet to grow to my potential. As a matter of fact, as I stand there, contemplating the tides and wondering about the different variances of true love, beauty, and what the wind looks like blowing through a beautiful woman’s hair; her tanned skin, soft eyes that are unforgettable and weakening; I am standing on the verge of life and wishing that someday this would all be so..
I’d like to share this with you.
I’d like you to see this because in a way, taking you to this place is the same as introducing you to my family.
Besides, I don’t do cemeteries. That’s where dead people live.
But I will do the beaches at Point Lookout because, to me, this is where The Old Man sails in an outgoing vessel, standing in the wheelhouse of his little ship, casting in the seas of tranquil lines where the clouds only grave the sky in ways of pillowy streaks.
This is my place of worship. This is a tiny piece of my home.
This is one of the most important pieces of my life and one of the most sacred places that I own.
It’s here if you’d like to share it with me – but be gentle with it because well –
This is everything to me.