Friday, June 26, 2009

The Smell of the Gulf, the smell of the sun

There were a few patches of shade today in the parking lot at the former motel restaurant I stopped for lunch. The old bay side hotel had been converted to housing for Visa workers who did house-keeping and other jobs at the beach side hotels the man owned.
He's a lot better than other resort owners who stack Eastern European workers in three bedroom rat-holes six to a room and charge them for the pleasure.
The parking lot is rumpled blacktop and I found a pinch of shade beneath a scrub oak.

Today was nice. It was only 91 and the breeze from the bay was steady so I never broke a sweat. As I crossed that lumpy asphalt the smell of salt water and someone's bait and a hint of Coppertone covered me for a few seconds and I wanted to be ten again.
I remember riding on the beach in the back of somebody's daddy's truck, feeling the effects of the sun on my shoulders and knowing my hair was a big tangle and looking into the rear-view mirror to see how bad it was.
I was beautiful. My pond-scum green eyes were full of fire; sparks of gold and bright green with the colors made bolder by the savage island child color of my face. My hair was a big tangle of white sand-colored strands mixed into the usual pine-straw red.
When I left the restaurant a skinny laughing woman in a floppy t-shirt and shorts passed me on her way in with her man. She looked like my youngest aunt for a second with long hair hanging over her shoulders like a girl on a 70's album cover.
I wanted to call my aunt and see if I could drive down right then to go to the beach and go crabbing with her and collect the best sunburn we could in a few hours.
I let that daydream tumble behind my eyes from the restaurant back to the office, never trying to work the logistics, just enjoying the vision.

I'll be going to spend the weekend with Mama soon so I have decided that we'll snag my aunt, a cooler, a net or 3 and some chicken necks and head to the beach. We'll get too much sun and wear our hair down so the wind can tangle it in knots and lighten it up. We'll smell like Coppertone and beach sand and I know my skin will nearly glow in the dark and feel warm even in the coldest air conditioning.

I'll be happy leaving footprints on the ancestral beach sand with these women who are so important to me. I've always looked at them as ethereal critters whose toes barely touch ground; faeries who dance across flower tops and hardly ruffle a petal, women who are so grounded and deep in what being a true woman is that they ascend the mundane world that I inhabit when I'm not looking.
One day, with much effort, I may be like them.

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