I am starting to grow fond of New England, its land and its people. It is different from the South, where I grew up, but it has similarities. Their food is regional and specific while the people are kind but guarded. It has history and haunting beauty in its scenery and culture that reminds me of my own family and heritage.
In the heart of Rhode Island, I am reminded of those old Southern roads where the weeds crawl up from the ditches on either side, soaking up the pavement, although there is far less kudzu and no roadkill to be seen. The coasts are breathtaking. Never in my life have I seen so many sailboats. They make me think of E.B. White who sailed small boats off the coast of Maine. At sunset when the blue turns to an orange and purple afterglow, Narragansett Bay is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It makes perfect sense to me that tycoons like the Vanderbilt’s built their mansions on those Newport cliffs that overlook the chilly Atlantic waters of Sheep Point Cove.
I was lucky enough to get to spend the entire weekend on one such property. The estate was beautiful, peering out over the rocks onto Sachuest Bay and Second Beach, where beach-goers lounged and tossed footballs in the sand. The water was calm, and the majority of surfers and their boards were washed up on shore. I’d like to say I got in the water, but truthfully, it was too cold for my taste, being used to the sun kissed waters of the Florida coastline. I managed to nurse a can of Founders while reading Stephen King short stories on my beach towel, Brooklyn Nets cap pulled down to shade my eyes.
King often puts me in the right mood for New England. Yes, his stories take place in Maine, for the most part, but the setting is not so different. Characters (especially pre-AA King characters) drink “Gansett” beer and speak fondly of Sox baseball, as they do on Aquidneck Island. King could’ve just as easily been walking down an old road in South Kingstown when he got hit by that infamous van in North Lovell. I’m probably showing some ignorance here, and I apologize if I offend any Mainers or Rhode Islanders when I draw the comparison. There is simply an air of old world strangeness akin to those old King tales I grew up reading that I can’t seem to shake when I’m in the Northeast part of the country. It’s electric with the unseen and a sense of foreignness that excites and intrigues me. I am falling in love again.
Sitting on Second Beach, I made the decision to put down my book and climb to the top of the dunes behind where we collected as a group of beach-goers. I set to walking up the steep bank, patched with grass like sophomore facial hair, and when I reached the top, I gazed out over the entirety of the beach, taking in the great rocks where children perched like Fraggles, lean bodies toasting in the sun. Behind us, away from the shoreline was a large, grassy marsh that turned into a dark pond almost out of sight. A green hill sloped up from it’s bank on which stood a cottage with deep brown clapboard siding, in the old New England style. In that moment, I wanted to live in that house, waking up every morning to pour myself a cup of steaming hot coffee, the Boston Herald lazing beneath the Newport Daily on my table, bitching about Trump and supplying fishing reports. I’d finish my cup, collect myself on the seat of an old bicycle, and pedal to the dock to cast out for striped bass and fluke after doing a healthy amount of writing in my study, of course, where paintings of local lighthouses don the walls.
It’s fairly idealistic, and I’ll admit that I’m the first to fantasize about where I’m going to live next, even if I just moved to a place. The prospects have included Nashville, New York City, Buenos Aires, Chattanooga, Denver, Memphis, and countless other places, some of which I’ve actually lived and others that remain potential homes where I’ll raise my future family with my future wife. I have always been a restless person, and I’ve quit trying to quit. It’s in my nature; I’ve accepted it.
The trip back to the city was more or less eventful. I95 in Connecticut is something the devil concocted, stretched out with bumper to bumper traffic of some of the biggest, gaping assholes you ever did see. Sharing the road with those morons, I admit I lost my temper once or twice and had to be talked down from the precipice, as I put my entire weight on the horn for a solid minute and a half, furious at the lime green Boxter in front of us that cut us off and then kept stopping abruptly with a license place that read “GoKaaart” just begging to be destroyed. Marisa and Kate, I apologize. Again. Turns out I’m one of the assholes too.
Leaving Rhode Island for Brooklyn felt strange, like leaving for Nashville from Mississippi before I called it home. Coming to a halt in Stanford, I let myself have that fantasy again, the one where I get home from work and walk across the street to sit with Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary and drink a few too many ‘Gansetts’ and talk about politics or the latest sports gossip—that is, before any horrifying events unfold and I bury my wife and child in an ancient MicMac burial ground. And in that moment, I was happy. I was satisfied just sitting there with him on the front porch in my mind, listening to folksy wisdom in his coarse New England accent and talking about Mississippi and how the two places really aren’t so different.
Maybe it will happen. Maybe I’ll pack my things in a few years and get the hell away from everyone and everybody. Who knows. Shit happens and things change in an instant, but for now, I’ll sit tight. Brooklyn is home, and it will be for the foreseeable future. New York City still holds some magic for me of which I’ve yet to shake or grow tired, but the more I think about New England, its old roads with fading white houses at the end, the more that old feeling starts again and I start to look at maps to see how far I can go before I’m too far away.