Thursday, October 30, 2008
Well, I knew I'd screwed up royally when the taxi pulled up to the dock in Sayville and there wasn't a person in sight. I hadn't realized that the ferry schedule had changed two days before. Only two boats a day now from the mainland, 6:45 AM and 3:15 PM, and you can see why it would be difficult to have a second house in a place that's that hard to reach. (One of the reasons the house is up for sale.) I thought back to something I'd heard on the train. A man said, "The Great South Bay? If you stay out of the dredge channels, you can walk across it." Why does that make me think of Jesus? Well, I wasn't about to creep through six or seven miles of waist deep water. It wasn't possible to wait around for the 3:15 either; I'd have to spend the night, which would mean I'd miss my morning flight to Chicago from Newark. Feh.
I called Mark, and cried, "I'm an idiot! I'm a fucking idiot," and we laughed some, because, well, missed connections are not exactly foreign to the Doty-Lisicky household. (Mark mentioned that missed connections are pretty much the subject of the better part of our blog posts.) I walked the mile and a half back to the station, past the Carvel, past the health food and liquor stores, with my stupid rolling suitcase, aware that the people inside the passing cars were probably saying, "And that fool thought there was another morning boat?"
In any case, I did have a nice enough train ride on the way out. All the reds and coppers and golds of the trees; the Waldbaums and King Kullens speeding by. I picked up a stray copy of Newsday from the floor. Teacher Murders Wife in Bethpage! Husband Poisons Wife in Center Moriches! The endless opera that is Long Island. If you're ever at a loss for something to do, check out the Wall of Shame in Newsday's web edition. It's barbaric: anyone suspected of drunk driving on the island automatically gets photographed for the newspaper. I think it would be utterly reprehensible if the faces didn't look so human and vulnerable. Even the hard faces have a dignity about them--not that I'm making light of drunk driving.
On the lighter side, I often think of Long Island, at least the Suffolk County before you get to the Shinnecock Canal, as another version of the South Jersey in which I grew up. In that way, I can appreciate it with the detachment of someone who's not from there. The landscape's so similar, that meeting of barrier island, back bay, and Pine Barren; the grassy, sandy soil; all those subdivisions by Levitt and Birchwood Park.
Of course, when I got back on the train, I was seated across from two college-age sisters. One of them saw my MOOSE FOR OBAMA T-shirt and smirked. Which prompted them to talk about their pro-life stance. Not a minute later they were talking about some party in Coram, where one of them had five beers and four shots and passed out. Pro-life indeed!
Above: Fall Foliage, Levitt's Ardsley model in Strathmore at Stony Brook, My Moose for Obama T-shirt.
Here's a short passage from my pal David Hollander's novel, L.I.E., which is largely set in Medford, Bellport, and Patchogue. I don't know of anyone who writes better about that very particular portion of the world:
Out in the bay, maybe seventy-five yards from shore, there's a small floating platform. It bobs gently in the black current. It's been there for years. On hot days, Bellport residents will sometimes brave the thick, pungent water and paddle out to the platform, saturating themselves in the Long Island humidity. Diana stands and leans over the gazebo, inhaling the bay's sweet rot, the masts of sailboats improvising a rhythmless fugue as they clash with hooks and pulleys. Chain lightning shatters once again. Diana suddenly points out to the platform: "Oh my God, somebody's out there!" she says. Scott and Renee look up. "What?" Scott queries. Harlan adds: "What kind of fucking moron would be out there tonight?" The four of them wait, their bodies leaning seaward, the gazebo's wooden rail digging at their thighs.