Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dearest love, I’ve been thinking of you there on your bleak, windswept ridge, so chilly out. I hope it has been possible to organize a delicious, fortifying cup of hot coffee to get your day started. I fantasize about being there with you, witnessing the forsaken place and its mysteries. I’m not the rugged type, I wouldn’t last long. But the landscape, especially with the thought of you in it, stirs my imagination.

I think of a summer I spent once in Maine while on break from school. I was a chambermaid at a seaside inn. One day after finishing my duties I set out for a walk down the lane to the beach. When I arrived at the lip of the ocean (visible from afar from the inn when the tide was out, much closer when it was in) the beach was utterly fogbound, under a dome of thick, all-encompassing murk. I could barely see in front of me. I kept to the wet sand, stayed parallel to shore, and heard the waves sounding, the waters lapping. Yet the sea in its overwhelming vastness was invisible. It was just me and my taking one step and then the next onto firm sand and chill mist dampening my skin and clothes. I could have turned back and of course it occurred to me to. (It had been merely and safely overcast at the inn and the narrow sand lane, and probably was now too.) It was spooky on the beach. Hardly anyone was there. And yet I knew others were there. The spookiness added a frisson, a thrilling dash of what I decided (despite my fondness of horror films) was manageable danger. It wasn't a "beach day." The vacationing tourists were gone that day and the beach was deserted. But a few other intrepid souls were out, taking in the ghostly atmospherics. Once or twice a person appeared, an apparition suddenly up close, visible for an intimate moment before vanishing, enfolded again in the vaporous dark.

My senses were heightened. I wanted to absorb every detail of the experience whole, give myself to it so that I could conjure it later. I stepped further into swirling nothingness, the encompassing dome of gray. English major that I had declared myself to be I was acquainted with Wallace Stevens and his words ran through my head as I walked further along (not turning back -- soon, but not yet), my footfalls matching his cadences and the heavings of the boundless surround,

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean

In my imagination I'm walking with you along the sand, surveying the contours of a vast, ancient ridge, admiring other contours too.

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