Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Unseen Sunsets and Unstrung Lights: Progress Past and Present

I had planned to be on my way to Lutheridge this morning.  I had such a great time at quilt camp last year, that I vowed to go again.  But in the spring, I couldn't because my school was in transition, and I wasn't allowed to use my vacation time.  Some day, I'll look back on that sentence and shake my head about how I have allowed capitalism and the workplace to destroy the elements of the life I want to be living and to lay waste to what I truly believe in--but that's a blog post for another day.

This year, I am neck deep in projects that require me to be here or at least, I thought I was when I made the final decision last week not to go.  I have spent the intervening week second guessing myself.

I want to fill this time with some of the activities I might have been doing had I gotten away to the mountains for a camp experience, so last night my spouse and I went to a brewery at the beach--yes, Hollywood, Florida has a brewery at the beach.  Once they called themselves an organic brewery, but they've long since dropped that part from their name, and I wouldn't be surprised if they no longer brew the beer there either.  Still, they have great beer, and good specials:  last night, we each got a burger and fries, and a free beer.  I want my beer to taste like liquid bread, so I always get their stout.

I was surprised by how crowded the beach was for a Tuesday night.  Long ago, in the late 90's when we first moved here, September and October were months when the beach would be fairly empty on week nights.  I looked at the mobs of people last night.  Were they tourists?  Locals?  The beach has more condo buildings so maybe I was seeing people out for an evening stroll.  But it didn't have that kind of vibe.  I couldn't quite place the vibe I was seeing--there was a sexual prowling kind of vibe, along with a vacationing kind of vibe, along with an exhausted parent kind of vibe, along with a let's get this intense workout done kind of vibe, all these vibes swirling around, refusing to be neatly categorized.  I wondered about my own vibe or if I have I finally settled into the invisibility that comes at midlife, the invisibility that allows some safety and detachment, the invisibility that untethers all vibes.

It was a beautiful evening, not too hot, with a bit of breeze.  It was not crowded, so we didn't have to worry about anyone sitting near us, and it was an outdoor eating area, up above the Broadwalk where the hoards of people thronged.  The sun set offstage, to our west, behind the building, but that unseen sunset stained the eastern clouds with pinks and purples.  Unlike past years, the horizon held no cargo ships, no cruise ships, and I decided to ignore the economic implications of that clear vista.

I did think about the other changes, the high rises on this beach, condos in a time of climate collapse.  I thought about years ago when I would drive my car early in the morning to run down the Broadwalk and those mornings when I saw the huge steel vats in the building and wondered, could they be building a brewery?  And indeed, they were.  I think of this brewery as new, but it's been here a long time, especially in beach years, where in the words of Dorothy in Oz, "Things come and go so quickly here."*  

As we drove home, I was on the lookout for Halloween lights, but their absence heralds another change.  These neighborhoods have been shifting from residential to short term rental, and Air BnBers do not string up Halloween decorations.

It was good to get out, good to sit on a patio that's not my own, good to watch the waves and the people, from a safe distance.  It was good to resist the lure of reruns of past programming on TV.  It was good to get away from our screens and to look at each other again.  

*Dorothy actually said that people come and go so quickly here.

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