Thursday, 26 November 2009

θάνατος (day seventy one and seventy two)

Down the stairs, across the sand, down there, below the lighthouse, where petal waves splash down gently, hushed flops onto the sand, that's where the Atlantic is. Two months ago the Pacific was hugging the right hand side of the car. Now it's 10,000 miles behind us on a hundred different roads. Hours spent contorting beneath a steering wheel, chin rested in redundant left palm, thumb, index and middle fingers steering, rested on my leg, mouth howling a caterwaul of half remembered lyrics from none of your favourite tunes. Through cities and interstates and intersections, highways, curves and corners over and over until my shoulders ache from hauling a tonne if aluminium around the mountains. Now we contemplate an ocean, a continent behind us. Two speeding tickets the only red marks in the jotter. Silence but for seagulls and children.

Martha's Vineyard remains unsighted - the car parks were too hidden so we missed the boat (you always miss the boat). Economic calibrations lead to a tasty lunch; sandy crunch of onion rings and a panini. When did I become so predictable? The moustachioed hipsters say I'm losing my edge. My tae kwon do jacket says they're wrong. Falmouth wants to be so much more than it is - the shops die after a couple of hundred metres of sidewalk. Ran out of puns - Sundae School, Dog Days A-Rover... They're needed to add the quaintness they so deserve. Past a million mini golfs we stop counting everything (these blank paragraphs are nothing but numbers and whimsy) and go to Chatham, the elbow of Cape Cod. The Tap N Tin and Billy Childish and centuries of ship building never felt so far away. Name filching pilgrims. Keep your mitts off or I'll send you down me own bleeding self. National pride was restored this morning when Britain retained its binge drinking world champion title. Our teenagers win, once more. They stay within their designated parks, swigging and swilling, for dearest Blighty, swinging fists and snogging. These are our boundaries. My suitcase is overpopulated and the borders are closed. High rise living is bringing me down. Take me to my cottage, darling, I feel a little faint.

Farewell to Oscar. Just another Hyundai Accent that rolled off a production line last year. Undramatic, cantankerous silver car. Not a groan or a complaint for 12,581 miles. The whole journey was undramatic -two parking tickets, a couple of near miss bumper swipes, and hundreds of hours of plain driving, plane driving through every different American landscape. Our hands wave at the Alamo lot, as we leave him behind. Evacuees. The keys were nearly locked in the car... this is the closest we came to an incident. Our possessions lie behind us in a kilometres long Where's Wally? picture. Awkward goodbyes got left behind in Cape Cod. They are our last hosts. Yoga and weed in the forest. They all bemoan the drugs culture - what else is there to do? Stare at tourists or fish or putt. Visitors fill the guesthouses and youths chase dragons over the dunes. The final drive curves is round to Boston and one hotel from home. The dead autumnal cape is behind, some leaves red already, before the sun sinks down to a low arc.

Two buses and two trains to haul our luggage on and off of - heavy weights carried round a continent. The frat houses are putting up their Greek emblazoned signs. Papier mache entrances are being created, ready for keg parties. These town houses were built for the merchants of Boston to grow old in - now they youth wastes away in hurried brewer's droop romps and weak ale binges. Back Bay is flooded with college kids emptying their minds, in high fashion clothing, skinny and lithe. Stand outside bars and in cafes drinking coffees. Nostalgia for the university days is stalling my every step. Snatched conversations talk social engagements and homework, we sit in the park and ignore them all. Red brick churches hide in the shadow of blue monolith towers - juxtaposed ancient and modern. Trees line the pavements and malls by the designer boutiques - wealth is everywhere, the homeless denoted to the 7/11 stoop, heads bowed. They can't bear the eyes that stare and judge. Mani is ashamed of it all - he can only think of how he ended up here, alone, outside, a cardboard sign and a cup. Back in the public gardens businessmen perk their walk home with tinges of manicured green, watching the bored tourists on their slow pedalboat swan rides round the pond, getting close up views of ducks and algae. Lysergic horticultural preened, police mounted horse clopping around to administer justice to the coffee drinkers and the geese feeders. It all zings and sleeps at the same time. Everything is moving, everything is stationary.

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