Friday, May 18, 2007

The shores of South Carolina...

Sitting on the beach here in Hilton Head, South Carolina, I'm as far into "the south" as I've been, since I don't think Disney World and Miami count, and it's delightful.

Yesterday, in spite of the clouds of smoke from forest fires raging many miles away in Florida and Georgia, I walked along the beach in my work trousers, flip flops in hand, and collected tiny sea shells like I did when I was a kid back in South Jersey. I haven't been anywhere that feels quite this much like home in a long time, and if I weren't Ocean City-bound next weekend I'd be sad to go.

There's something about the Atlantic Ocean that just mezmerizes you and takes your mind off of whatever it was that worried you. Maybe its the vastness, the unknowable richness of the life beneath those waves of which we get to see mere trinkets - shells along the shoreline. I collected tiny pieces of the sea and stuffed them into my pocket until it could hold no more. The water seeped from their cracks to stain my bulging pocket, giving away my contraband as I tried to slink past the crowd at the poolside bar returning back to the hotel.

I have a box with shells I collected from the Indian Ocean, much in the same way, although without the pleated work trousers. Every time I look at them, I'm taken back to the shores of Kerala and the time I swam in the Arabian Sea after my friend's wedding in Delhi.

I rinsed the shells, one cupful at a time, in my sink to wash away the sand before storing them in a paper coffee cup with a lid inside my sneaker and packing it in my bag. I'm hoping some of them make it back to Brooklyn in tact, mementos of the time I stepped in the Atlantic in May and didn't think my toes would freeze off.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How I REALLY Injured Myself After The Arcade Fire Show

The Arcade Fire show had ended, and rather than fight the hipster wave as it roared towards Williamsburg, I stopped for a drink. Or three. Ample time to let the swell abate as I traveled back through the underground railroad from Mount Washington Heights to deepest, darkest Brooklyn.

The first stretch was uneventful. Placid even. I had no idea what I was getting into.

The A train squealed to a stop in the bowels of the Port Authority, dingy and dank. I maneuvered my way around the crowd, heading towards the passage to make my connection.

About halfway through, the lights flashed, and it grew dark. Pitch dark. I could hear water running and the air grew cool. I stopped in my tracks.

Whoosh! Suddenly, torches lit along the walls, no longer the sooty white tiles of Gotham's underground, but slate. The ground was slick. Uneven. WTF?

"I'll get you this time," came a gravely voice from behind.

I turned to see a tall figure, with a weird, spiked hat and evil eyes gleaming from above a ninja mask.

"Oh shit," I mumbled, stepping aside as he advanced. I slid on the slick stone floor, squealing as my ankle gave out. But I was too stupefied to wallow. "Is that… Shredder?"

He glared my way, but just as he was about to step forward, a voice cut through the black.

"Not so fast, Shredder!"

Could it be?

Green arms and legs whirled past me, and there they were. Poised to do battle in what had just a moment ago been the Port Authority. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

"Michaelangelo! Save me!" I shouted in my best damsel-in-distress voice.

"No problem lady! Cowabunga dudes!" and the turtles were off!

Leonardo's ninjaken whirled through the air, hitting Shredder squarely on the head. Donatello leaped on his bo staff. Whacking Shredder in the back of the knees. The giant went down. I had really thought there'd be more of a "battle", but they made quick of it and Leonardo grabbed my arm.

"This way!"

He lead me down a dark passageway I'd never seen before in the Port Authority, taking care to move quickly while still respecting my slight limp.

"Where are you taking me?"

"Brooklyn, silly."

"Uh, okay…" I decided it was best to just go along with things at this point. This was, after all, New York. Things happened.

We came to a roller coaster cart on a rusty old track.

"This is the secret ride to the Slope. You totally bypass all of Chinatown and Ft. Greene. It's awesome," he said, pulling back the safety bar. "Hop in!"

"Can't I at least buy you a slice?" I said, knowing the turtle's fondness for pizza. "You most certainly saved me from ultimate doom!"

"It's cool," he said, locking the bar across my lap. "Just close your eyes. Sometimes it's dusty in the tunnels." He pushed a button, and the car lurched ahead, taking a steep dive like Space Mountain.

I squeezed my eyes tight. "Aaaahhhhhhhhh!" went the inside voice. My stomach flew around inside my body, I re-tasted my lunch.

Screeeeeech!

With a jolt, I opened my eyes.

In front of me was a map of the New York City Subway. On the grimy orange bench sat a lady in a jean jacket, reading US Weekly. A bum was on the other side of the door.

"Is this the Q Train?" I asked her, trying not to sound drunk.

"Um, yeah. Seventh Avenue," said jean jacket, looking at me like I'd just beamed down from the mother ship.

Word. My stop.

"What a crazy ass dream," I thought, standing.

I stepped toward the door and gasped at the sharp pain in my ankle as I put pressure on my foot. Humph.