seeing it for the first time
Sunny and gorgeous although a little too hot really we arrive in Provincetown for our annual vacation to visit my spouse’s family and our friends. And by friends we mostly mean the breakwater, the pond and the ocean. I don’t really remember the people of the cape as much as I pine away for the feel of the fresh water pond smell filling my nostrils and surrounding my body in warm/cold/warm fresh water. The feel of the squishy sandy bottom, watching dragonflies have sex and listening to the frogs call out to each other to be quiet. The wind rustling through the trees constantly turning the leaves silver/green/silver/green as the branches sway in the ocean breeze. The sun reflects off the white sandy bottom at the mouth of the pond shore and the water is as clear as if it came out of the tap. Floating on my back I can block out all the cries of my children calling me into the present of motherhood, responsiblity, commitment and adulthood crap.Floating on my back I can just be a girl, staring at the sky with nothing but that moment of loveliness to enjoy-no past-no future just now.
Night falls and the streets of Provincetown swarm with drag queens, leather men, bears (its bear week-the best week of the year), Germans, Canadians, Japanese, families, transgendered folks, lesbians of all persuasions, teenagers, eastern Europeans, Russians, wash-ashores, Townies and every type of person you can possibly imagine. This year, for the first time in 11 years one of my children noticed the overwhelming population of Provincetown and stated on our second night in town, “Hey, um, you know the gay guys here are really, um, you know, um, really really gay.” I explained that yes they are and they are her people-most love lipgloss and tight pants and adore pop music and so she should feel right at home. She smiled and said that most look really pretty. Fascinated by drag queens and street performers we encourage her to join the ballroom dancing couple who is offering free lessons in the waltz-all you have to do is step forward. Using her shy excuse to not be noticed she refuses but I can tell she would love to dance on Commercial street.
We eat too much candy and onions rings. We eat a giant breakfast lunch and dinner everyday. I am constantly saying “NO” to 3rd desserts and 4th helpings of candy. Our feet are usually filthy. The dog smells like low tide and growls at his tail and scratches his ears. There is sand in our bed and our suitcases. We paint shells and rocks, stand in the hot sun at low tide while little fish nibble at our toes. There is a seal in the harbor one night and the low loud horns of the whale watch boats blow every four hours until sunset. Bikers and walkers crowd the side-walk. It’s amusing to watch women in platform shoes navigate the narrow streets, sidewalks and rickety steps. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a drag queen or bare chested with leather shorts.
Each year I feel less and less at home although it still feels familiar but I don’t quite belong any longer. I am too old, out of touch and have out-of-state plates on my car. It’s good to go back and every last few days my husband and I try to hatch a plan to stay longer the next time we come but we have pesky jobs that can’t wait in the summer and children in school in the fall and spring.
It’s exhausting to be busy everyday but we made the best of it. The last day was the best day swimming in the pond and wished as we were leaving we could come back the next day to swim and catch frogs. Our big 8 year old girl swam all the way across secret pond this year with her Dad.
I don’t always feel so old but when I go to Ptown I do now. I don’t care how many people tell me I look young. I feel and am old. I long for that time 20 years ago with a young trim body, disposable income and nothing in my future but vacation plans.
Now my future seems more uncertain even with its elaborate plan of children, school, work and life as a married person living in a house.
Its like Ptown is this mirror that reflects both ways. Arriving I see myself in my youth, the first time crossing the bridge and winding down Rt. 6, smelling the lowtide and watching the cloudless pink and blue sky spread out before me. Leaving town I see what I have now. A good life. Sweet children. Fortune. Health. Stability. Love.
I think it’s just as nice to be on vacation as it is to be home.