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Saying Goodbye To pleasure Beach

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I look across the desolate landscape; the crusty, garbage-laden ground makes this look like an abandoned land, which it is now. In my mind, I picture little girls and boys running around on black paved ground, the tar still new enough to bubble in the days heat. The girls pig tails fly in the ocean breeze, and the carousel squeaks around. The rides are all beginning to rust from the thick, salty air and laughter rings out across the water.
My vision fades, and I flash forward 80 years, to present day. I wrap the boat line around a cleat- rusted nails barley hold the cleat to the decaying, barnacle-incrusted wood on the dock- I heave my families 20 foot motor boat up to the dock and everyone boards onto the unsteady platform. My bare feet, worn hard and strong from shell and gravel, feel nothing as they silently walk across the sticky wood. I turn from looking at the land, to gaze out at a tiny, long island sound inlet.
Me, J.P, Joey, Caroline, Collin, and so many more friends surface from under the water. Water guns and balloons fly through the air, we wrestle each other off our tubes, laughing and screaming. Water speckles the atmosphere and seagulls, perturbed by our racket, take flight towards the Atlantic. Behind me, I hear a truck revving its engine. Don’t go, I whisper, but alerted back to life from my daydream, I cannot re-imagine that amazing summer day. Not looking back to the sparkling blue water, I trudge forward onto the island.
Wonders of what may lay ahead fill my mind. I pick my way up a path that leads from the dock. A baby cactus reaches out to me, leaves ruffle, waves lap the sand; it felt like magic was literally filling the air. I crouch under a fallen tree, and shiver as its green leaves momentarily cover my body from the warmth of the burning sun. I don’t move a muscle when I reach the other side of the downed tree; I suck in a breath, and then slowly breathe out. Artwork is what I am greeted by, here on this lifeless island.
Sculptures, paintings, quotes, all are plastered to foundationless cottages. Stretching down the length of the beach, as far as my eyes can see, there are houses. At first glance, I am disgusted; the pests that must live in these abandoned shacks are overwhelming. But then, at a closer glance, you can see the life, the life of recently painted masterpieces and the past lives of those who once inhabited this place.
I stumble further into the empty haven. I see a pair of black shoes, with rusty silver buckles on them. I create an image in my head of what the shoes owner must have looked like, what his wife and kids were like too. I tell myself a story as I wonder through the real life museum. After I skirt around the shoes, I find a Betty Crocker cookbook. This, I decided, belonged to the man’s wife. In a grassy knoll, I catch sight of a child’s tricycle. The little, three wheeled bike was faded blue, red and yellow. The beauty was utterly memorizing. I became entranced and slow, drinking in every once of my surroundings.
This decrepit neighborhood used to harbor hundreds of families, and now, my family and I are the only souls in miles of the place. Engrossing myself into the detail across the beachy area, I discover burnt bricks. A massive hole, now rid of its past foundation, is the grave for a dead house. Rusted gutters, blackened bricks, a broken patio table and rocking chair wobble in a pile stacked upon years of memories and hard work; now sitting in a pile on the dirt.
The bulldozers were getting closer; I could hear their engines groaning in protest to their laborious work. I was suddenly sitting in my kitchen, looking at the newspaper. HOUSE ON FIRE, PLEASURE BEACH, the heading read. That’s why the trucks and men were taking down the gravestones to past lives, houses marking a family’s territory, until those families were forced to leave.
When I first discovered this magical place, refurbished by this era's paintings, I was torn. I knew the houses were all death traps waiting to happen. Shingles and windows splinter in the wind, falling to the ground, spraying the too long, dead grass with shrapnel. Old propane tanks were beginning to explode, causing trees, and even animals, to catch fire. It was dangerous, I realized, yet still so beautiful.
I discovered then, standing under the roasting, noontime sun in my white tee shirt and favorite denim shorts that this too shall pass. It was a quote I saw, written in neon pink spray paint on a boarded up window. This too shall pass, all the hardships in life and tough times, death even, it all will pass. I shuffled down a dirt path, clingy tan particles flying up with each step I took, unsettling the dirt. I was going home, back to the boat; I said good-bye to pleasure beach then. The next time I went there, it would be a nature preserve. Not an once of humanity would remain. But I was all right with that, because I knew all those kids, younger then I, who had lived here 80 years ago, made it through life. When they all got booted out of their houses for government reasons, they knew hard times would be in their futures. But all the people took a chance, and followed the road their lives were taking them on. People cannot live in the past, no matter how hard the future may look; move ahead and good things will come.





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richellebarone said...
Dec. 18, 2010 at 8:39 am
nicole that was amazing, u should deff win the contest or whatever this isss<33
 
Campbell15 replied...
Dec. 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm
Thank uu : ) 
 
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