Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Stranded (Or: ACK, as They Say)
I don't want to be stranded anywhere, even if it's a place I took to instantly, with its moors, Japanese black pines, and scrubby plants. I'm talking about our trip to Nantucket this past weekend, where stranded takes on a different dimension than it does in most places in the U.S.. "Thirty miles out at sea"--you certainly can't swim that distance, though there have been reports of deer doing just that. It was Sunday night. The trees started to whip, a raw rain started to pelt, and there was Mark, Ned, and me walking down a dark road with our friend Joy Williams, who had accompanied us to a lovely dinner party. We couldn't have known then that the winds were only getting going, that it's common to be stranded "thirty miles out at sea" for a day, sometimes days on end, which is why one should bring sweatshirts, extra underwear and thick socks to such a place, instead of wearing Diesel loafers with soles that crumble like old Nerf after being left wet overnight. Nantucket is not the West Village, and you learn that soon enough.
But no sooner had we found out that all Monday ferries and flights were cancelled when rescue came, in the person of Maggie Conroy, the actor and playwright, the wife of my late teacher, Frank. I've known Maggie for years, always adored Maggie, but who would have expected her to open her house to us? To lend us her car, to be fun company, to put up with Ned, who was engaged in some sort of protracted Alpha struggle with Neville, her ten-month-old puppy. And there was Joy over for dinner Monday night--a delight to see Joy for the third night in a row and to drink two Joy Williams martinis. And go for rides to 'Sconset and Tom Nevers and to the highest point on the island where there's an otherworldly aviation-guiding device that looks like something out of a science fiction movie. At one point yesterday, as Maggie led us on a dog walk by Nantucket Harbor, I had a strong sensation that there was a profound reason behind our staying one more day, and I'm using the word profound with extra consideration, as it's not a word I believe in throwing around carelessly. I had on my late teacher's car coat, but that's only the smallest part of the story. I knew it would take me years to figure it all out.
(Pictures to come.)