Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of the unfortunate.
I intended to write a day-by-day account of the last week or so, but when I went to catalogue each day I found that they blended into one smooth memory. So I decided to pick out highlights to share with you. I may illustrate them with a few photos as we go.
- Hanging out on the beach. Thursday through Sunday the weather held quite fair, sunny and often warmer than we expected. Brian’s grandparent’s house is on the bay side, so we were protected from the wind and the water remained amazingly calm and shallow for quite a long distance. Several times people waded out two hundred yards or more, with water up to their shoulders, and they splashed around there. They looked like strange ducks from a long distance away, and they came back chilly but exhilarated. I did not bring a swimsuit, and in fact packed all the wrong clothes for the beginning of the week: my clothes included warm pants, sweatshirts, and wool socks, when I needed skirts, T-shirts, and flip-flops. I managed by not wearing shoes, and only sunburned my feet the first day. The sun got us all, some worse than others, but any burn I had has turned into an early tan, watch-tan included. Despite the burns, we had quite a lot of fun and I ached to hold the moments in stasis forever.
- Our first three or so days we spent almost entirely on the beach, digging holes, making a Mer-Kurt because our friend Kurt never came down and we missed him, playing frisbee (or photographing frisbee players, if you’re me), taking walks and harrassing horseshoe crabs. We named one horeshoe crab Sparky, and another Belinda. Then we found two mating horseshoe crabs and made lots of jokes about horseshoe crab stamina, and the morning after, and so forth. The group size changed quite a lot, from starting with about eight people to upwards of twenty people on Saturday and Sunday. People tended to stay in smaller groups, but we all spent a good amount of time together eating, playing with sand, and most of all talking.
- Going for walks. Over the course of the week I went on walks with a half-dozen different people, mostly guys I kind of know but would like to know better. These tended to involve walking along the beach, then turning and walking along the road back to the house, but a couple times I went on adventures. Michelle and I walked as far as you can go on the beach; eventually we hit a river that we couldn’t ford, so we turned around and walked back. That day got quite windy, and our ears felt very chilly after a while. But we saw very few other people on the beach – this held for the whole time we were there, basically – and it provided a great opportunity for chatting. A few times I invited somebody on a walk, and other people joined us. This worked alright, but I found that I really prefer one-on-one walks because the conversations tend to be more honest. Maybe that’s just because I can only let myself be honest with one person at a time, or maybe it’s some other reason, but whatever the case I found myself wanting to take walks in pairs.
- On one walk we went to a cedar swamp at Marconi Beach, which is on the Atlantic side: much windier, but also more interesting and impressive. We walked a one-mile loop three times and I felt only a little disappointed. In addition to walking with one partner, I kept wanting to walk longer and longer distances as well. A nice long walk we took involved me, Rob, Darren, and Brian. On Tuesday (I think) we went to the the national park service building 2 miles from Coast Guard beach. I say went, but you have to realize that involved cramming four of us into Rob’s two-seat pickup truck: Darren and I jammed in between the huge subwoofer and lots of junk. We walked through the driving rain and wind to Coast Guard beach, took our photos there (not up because they all turned out blurry with raindrops on the lens), had all three of our gigantic golf umbrellas turn inside-out, and walked briskly back. We ate grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, not so much for the cheesy goodness but for the heat we absorbed.
Ian and I returned to Worcester after that walk, arriving back about 8:30. The next morning I did an interview with Charles River Laboratories in Worcester for a technical writing position they have open. They warned me at least three times that they did animal testing, and was I OK with that? I was, in fact, and hearing dogs bark while I work wouldn’t bother me in the least. I did my best, appreciated the lack of some lame surprise aptitude test, and came away feeling pretty darn good. I think they liked me; I liked them, at least. The hardest part of interviews is to know what tone to take. I try to be amiable, letting my sense of humor show through without coming across flippant or ditsy. Speaking of ditsy, I got all A’s for the last term, and that means I earned 23 A’s out of 24 classes I took at WPI, not counting my projects.
When I finished the interview, Ian and I packed up and left to finish our time on the Cape. We brought a cookie-cake for Darren’s birthday (Wednesday) and drove quite fast to get back within two hours.
- Hanging out. Several times during the week we sat around talking, playing cards or other games, and listening to Vinnie or Mike improv on their guitars. They strummed and we chilled. Later in the week we colored pictures and discussed Atlas Shrugged, an Ayn Rand book Darren is working on. I have spent very little time just hanging out with people of late, and I found it refreshing and fun, but also saddening — saddening mainly because I knew that we would never reclaim the carefree, casual, college-student easygoingness we enjoyed during that week. I laughed more in a few days there than I had in months (I also cried more, but that remains a blog for another day. Or perhaps that will remain unblogged and unspoken.)
- Miscellaneous. We did lots of things that hardly fit into categories. We drove as a huge group to Provincetown, at the far tip of the Cape and looked at all the closed shops; Darren and Mike climbed on top of the frieze of pilgrims and a cop stood and motioned them down with an angry look on his face; Penny swung on a fence, causing a mall employee to tell her to stop; Darren and Mike (again!) climbed on some rather shaky-looking nail-infested pylons. P-town was fun, but I ruined it for myself by getting miffed that we had to leave so soon when everybody got bored. I could have taken pictures for a week there, but with all the shops and eating places closed, everybody else found
the place boring.
We also spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen nibbling Doritos, Oreos, and other shockingly unhealthy food while bantering back and forth. Andy, Sean, and various others did about six puzzles in quick succession. I doodled a lot while acting as a walking advertisement for fountain pens and our new Prius. Brian drove our Prius and seemed to like it well enough, although he asked questions about number of cylinders and so forth that I felt stupid for not knowing the answers to (four, I looked it up). Ian and I joke about how a hill will need both our horsepowers, and the car honestly does not accelerate that fast. Still, when Brian and I got out, a fellow asked us about the car and eyed it with a rather interested look. And I love the car. Of course a trip like this evolved plenty of in-jokes: about horse-bikes, labeling for guys, mmmmmmmmmmmmayonaise, and accessorizing for your fat butt. The accessorizing particularly came out a lot, developing from an ad in Ladies Home Journal from 1945 that showed a very normal-looking girl in a suit and said, “What purse should ‘chubby’ choose?” The ad (for Tampax!) went on to explain that ‘chubby’ should pick a nice fat, wide purse to accessorize well with her figure.
After a week with almost no cell phone reception and certainly no internet, the discovery of an unsecured wireless internet connection from the house across the way threw some of the group into an excited frenzy rather like sticking a twig into an anthill. A group of people congregated around the fence, waiting to check their emails (30 to 50 unread ones per person, with maybe 15 actually important), grades, facebook, myspace, whatever fix they needed. It looked quite odd, to see people and their laptops unsubtly sitting across from the Internet, desperately clicking away. Darren, pictured with his laptop, also did a couple other interesting things during the trip: he ate seven bowls of coleslaw from the Lobster Claw restaurant and nearly vomited (I actually drank half a gallon of 2% milk that they were going to toss out, and later I just about tossed it myself), and he climbed up and down an extremely rickety stairway on the beach. Most of the stairways seemed pretty rickety since they have to rebuild them every year as the beach erodes back. Storms also damaged some, and the owners had not yet returned to fix them. Darren braved the stairs and survived, winning our endless…um, admiration.
I’m sure I have missed half the important things that happened, so I’ll just keep adding to this long blog as things come up. Probably nobody has read this far, but in case you have, here’s the last details:
- Mission: Impossible 3. When we got back from Cape Cod, we realized a whole evening stretched in its vast loneliness before us. So Darren, Nora, Brian, Ian, and I went out to dinner to TGI Friday’s, though I only got potstickers for a ridiculous $7 since that half gallon of milk was still with me. Then we saw Mission: Impossible 3, which I can sum up as great action scenes combined with lame/cheesy/sappy quasi-romantic scenes interspersed with some humorous one-liners. One of my favorite scenes involved Tom Cruise running with perfect form for 3/4 of a mile in about 2 minutes through a crowded Chinese street. Also they had a funny scene of two of the M:I people faking engine troubles in Italy. Generally I enjoyed the night more because it closed our Cape Cod time smoothly, helping me adjust to the realization that these people are stepping out of my life forever.
For all the joy and laughter of the last week and a half, I felt equally deep sorrow pulling me in two – sorrow that we just now, at the end, have started to form the kinds of relationships I’ve ached for for three years. But this time I have decided to pick three or so people to keep up with intentionally, not just let it all slide like I did with high school. God willing, I’ll have these friends through many more years and this Cape trip will only be the first of many equally enjoyable vacations together.
Bonus: How many words would you guess are in this post? (No cheating with a word counter!)