A seagull pokes its head over the sand dune. Among beach grass and scattered feathers, it peers at us from a distance, then flaps its wings and disappears. The wind is strong on this day, scattering sand into waves that echo the ocean. Examined closely, the grains are fine, and the sand here is soft. In-between our toes, it sifts as if in an hourglass. I bury my foot deeper. The breeze is cool on the tip of Cape Cod, and for this overcast day the beaches are relatively empty. It’s late in the season – end of August or early September – and Suzie and I have made an impromptu trip to Provincetown. The year is 1995.
We had driven over in the rain, and somehow Suzie found us lodging for the weekend. The fall semester was set to begin in a couple of days. We didn’t want the summer to end. On our last day, instead of hitting the road, we made our way to the beach. Not the gay beach – it would be a few years before I learned the long and winding way through the marsh and dunes to make it there – but a quiet stretch of shoreline where only a few other brave folks withstood the chilly wind. I would have left early in the morning, but Suzie wanted a day at the beach, and in the first break from the rain, and our last hours on the Cape, we took it.
I listen to the waves crash rhythmically upon the shore. Their roar is muffled beneath the rushing wind. I put on a pair of headphones, as much for the music as to shield my cold ears. A Shirley Horn song begins as my eyes follow a fellow walking along the beach.
He is my fate,
with capital “F” in it,
Now in my dreams,
there’ll be someone definite,
ring down the curtain,
I’m certain at present,
my future just passed.
On a plaid pillow, I lean back. Suzie snaps a photo, likely at my insistence. The sun looks as if it wants to break through, but a layer of clouds prevents it. There will be no direct sunlight today. That doesn’t bother me as much with Suzie by my side. I don’t know then that this moment will be one of my happiest memories, before the entanglements of romance began for both of us, before the break-ups and breakdowns. For now, the hope and possibility and excitement of love looms beautifully on the horizon, just ahead of us, and the only thing bothering me is the impatient anticipation involved: I cannot wait to find it. To find him.
Don’t even know if he has been spoken for,
If he is tied, the ties must be broken, for,
life can’t be that way,
to wake me then break me,
my future just passed.
Stars in the blue,
though you’re at a distance,
you can assure me,
but sometimes a girl encounters resistance,
help me to win this boy.
I don’t know what he’ll look like, but I’ll spend the next several years searching, and seeking out the one. Some will come close, and I’ll try to force them into the place of my heart where I most want someone to fit, but I begin to doubt that anyone will fill that hole. Even those who love me, at least for a moment, seem ill-suited for such treacherous and tedious environs. I watch them pass on. I watch them walk away.
Here are my arms,
may he find illusion there,
Kiss my two lips…
There is passion I find along the way. Enough to sustain, enough to maintain hope. And there is love. Even when it is fleeting and ephemeral, it matters. I believe this because the alternative is too grim to fathom. When the world turns dark, and loneliness cries forlornly like the whimper of a trapped animal, you will believe in almost anything.