Friday, May 13, 2011

The Erie Canal

A time that feels long ago but really isn’t, I am sitting on the back of a motorcycle with my white knuckles digging into the driver. I'm yelling "faster!" over the motor and into his ear. I remember that at the time I can’t tell if he is scared too, but I know as he turns around to give me a thumbs up my grip is going to tighten.

The same time that I am picturing also includes an early morning along the canal with fishing poles sitting idly as the morning haze burns off. A time when none of us had jobs or furniture that matched and we lived with camping chairs and ate spider dogs by open fire. What people called getting by was what we thought of as living the life.

On the beaches of Tampa that time is coming back. The scene is playing out like a modern day Normandy and the soldiers coming at me are crispy 20-somethings invading the coastal battlefield. They are armed with surf boards and protected by ray bans; barefoot as they trample through the sand you want to join them, you want to learn from them and be taken prison in this lifestyle.

I lie across the sand while I take lessons from these warriors as they teach me to not agonize over life’s left turns. Here, Robert Frost has been taken literal and they are living his words. I can not stress where I am going or where I should plan to go because the pressing matters revolve around tan lines and the threat of raccoon eyes.

There are no questions about where you belong when the most calm and clear waters are beckoning you. Saying no is not an option and after just a few hours you learn the sun is infectious. The attitudes are that of people nestled not crammed between hundreds of your soon-to-be best friends, all applying tanning oil instead of SPF50. And so I don't feel so out of place when I wish aloud for UV rays to work faster.

The heat isn't how I remember it last summer, all the complaints I owned so righteously have turned into one long smile across my now sun-kissed face. I find myself embracing the thick heavy air as I step outside, sucking the humidity deep into my lungs.

That same feeling, which again doesn’t feel so far away, hits as beads of sweat form on my forehead while I sip coffee on the steps: this is how it always is or has been.

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