Friday, December 30, 2016

The Edge.

Dear Combers,

Call it the playa, shore, seaside, plage, strand, or lido; the beach is the liminal space between the sea and the land.  A twilight where two worlds collide.

I once lived near the beach- at night, and on calm days, one could hear the breakers.   You could see the water from just one window, in the small bathroom.  The bottom half of the window was a pebbled 'privacy' glass, but taller people looked over the white wood sash and the roofs of the houses to the sea and an oblong of sky, criss-crossed by telephone lines.  The delightful thing about a window view like this is that you go to it purposely to look out; it isn't the view from the sofa, it requires a small pilgrimage to see it.

The beach is most glorious in tempest, or dark, or fog, or howling wind.  It is most raw and authentic on grey or stormy days.  I would walk to the beach at night, in damp drizzle, and it was perfect; it held no one, reflected only my enormous solitude and sense of self.  This is the thing about what is sometimes called loneliness- it is you, this feeling, it is you at your most expansive, most real, most true, most small, most fearful, and most at one with the world. 

You will hear, often, on these squinting bright days, with a limitless and textureless blue sky, a bubble of homogeneity; that it is a 'beautiful day at the beach.'  Zounds, how little we desire!   It isn't at its best in that glare at all, it is at its best in the weather of human discomfort and difficulty: in the dynamism of wind, wet, and dark.