Monday, September 24, 2007
New York vs. Paris Part II - Shelter Island Sunday
At a certain moment in my life, one particularly wrought with angst and trauma, I did my first escape job. I was only 9 years old, so the escape was, of course, facilitated by adults, namely my mother, doing the same kind of thing - escaping from Atlanta. Yesterday I had the opportunity to revisit my strawberry fields for the first time in 20 years. Shelter Island, New York - at the very tip of long island, a ferry ride across from Greenport, in the middle of Long Island wine country. We took the Long Island Express way up until it ended into 25 East. The road was interspersed with vineyards and open air markets. Antique shops and little cafes dotted the spaces in between. At some points the trees arched out over the road and you could almost just imagine you were on that one road in the south of France that has all of the branchy trees lining both sides of the street.
Then you reach the beautiful Greenport, this was the town my younger sister and I would save up our money and ride the ferry over to watch a movie and browse the bookstore. The ferry ride to Shelter Island is no more than 5 minutes and it was filled with the same excitement, wonder, caution and smells that permeted my experience of rididng the ferry 20 years ago.
Upon exiting the ferry, I was able to steer us immediately to the place. The Chequit Inn, the shelter Island drug store we used to live above, the bar in the bottom of the Chequit where Tara and I used to insert quarters painted red and perform our dance routine to Brass Monkey for the afternoon bar patrons. The quarters were painted red so they could be retrieved later for reuse when when the jukebox was emptied.
I ran into my cousin in the gas station. It was a strange occurrence and just reinforces what a small island it is. He was pumping gas there and Em went inside to pee. I knew it was him from the second I walked through the door and so after freaking him out by randomly questioning him, I revealed who I am. It was funny and he was sweet. He said he definitely remembers me, even though, I haven't seen him since he was 4 years old. He looked the same.
My field, the one across from the Chequit was still there and still picturesque with the sail dotted bay peaking through behind the gorgeous trees at the bottom of the hill. I used to lay in that field and miss my father. I was into the Beatles's then and Strawberry fields was my favorite song to listen to in my field. I made a promise to myself that I have never forgotten. I promised myself that I would always go back to my field when things got to be too much for me. When I needed the rest, reflection and solitude. So I did, I went. And it was everything I remember it to be, more.
I thought alot about my mother. How exciting and fun that time must have been for her. How seductive and beautiful the scenery. Maybe Shelter Island was in tall order for what she needed then. A woman leaving a 16 year marriage. What better of a place to feel that exhilaration of reentering your life, just being you. I can imagine what that feels like. I kind of did the same thing years later. I have often wondered and scant known how I found the strength to walk out on my situation the way I did. Yesterday, I understood that. The difference between she and I? She had three children that she took with her and I went a little bit further than she did. She crossed a bay, I crossed an ocean. She remarried, I went to college. We're both still in the same place we started - but I'm still searching for another way out.
~How I Feel About Paris Today~
New Yorkers have a taste for the finer things in life, things that are not really on any one's radar in the south. The nice Champagne and the smelly cheese and the fru fru coffee everywhere. These things have trickled into Atlanta, mostly due to an influx of New Yorkers in our Southern cities. Paris has a penchant for such things and after visiting shelter Island, I am able to see the roots of these tastes in my preferences.