Beach towns are fun places to be, in the summer. Labor day closes the summer door, catching wisps of sunscreen-scented beach towels. My dog and I walked the beach late Sunday morning, stopping occasionally when someone who wanted to pet Lily and chat amiably. We sauntered along enjoying the warm sum until a police suv pulled up alongside to let me know the beach restricted dogs through September, and the fine is $250.00. Thankfully he let us off with a warning but did follow us off the beach.

Monday morning after walking Lily along the roadside I bought a newspaper to see what the town had to say for itself when I heard a lot of seagulls crying outside our house. I looked out the front window to see my neighbors had thrown a pizza on their driveway and the gulls were battling the crows for it. The crows won.

Since we were not welcome on the beach we walked the public access ramps on the creekside where the boats are. The boat’s wakes and the small tidal surge on that side of the island creates tiny waves that lap on the sand. Enough anyway to raise Lily’s curiosity, until one of those little waves lapped an inch or two closer than the others. Lily sprang up to avoid getting her dainty paws wet. How dare this thing be aggressive to her. Still it fascinates her.

The best way to find out about a place is to chat with passers-by. In a beach town occasionally someone comes along with time on their hands only too happy to talk about the area. It seems the city hall are keeping things in something of a stranglehold and make working on your beach house complicated. I have a curiosity about towns that are so worried their townfolk have no sense of decorum or such a longing for nonconformity there will be little eccentricities popping up along every street. Little eccentricities are what make a place have character to my way of thinking. Not much fun in having everything look the same, I think.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Stranger in a familiar land

When I came back home if was more for familiar things- the scent of pine trees, streets and neighborhoods I know, Most of my friends have moved but I have always loved where I was born so decided to move back here. Thomas Wolfe may have been right when he said you can’t go home again. The scent of pines is still here, but the people are gone. My people, my family, friends. The familiar has become foreign in its unpersonalness.

Three years ago I mentioned to a neighbor I thought of moving again to be in a place where I could begin again. She and her family moved a few months later. Never said a thing. Then another neighbor mentioned she and her husband were thinking of retiring to another area. They were gone after a year. A couple 3 houses away moved a few months after that. With all my things in boxes for all this time I have been the readiest person to move and am still there.

For the next 2 weeks my dog and I are on the coast of my homestate of North Carolina. We will look for a house. I have a realtor who is helping me. I do not know if, in 2 weeks, I will find something I like. The rest of my family are in Houston. Why don’t I just find a place in Texas? Since my brother declined a job offer someplace else the suggestions by his wife for my moving there have completely stopped. In fact, I have not heard from them since then. Why is this not easier than it is?

I have rented a house, rather half of a house with some other people downstairs which my dog does not like at all. The realtor who rented the house sent me a list of things the house did not have for me to bring. So I brought them and the house has everything I was told to bring. What it does not have are a tea kettle and wifi. I found an unsecured link which does not worry me. Maybe it should. Maybe more than my dog barking or that my car is ungaraged or that there is no tea kettle. But there is air conditioning, and there are ice trays. And an ancient mocrowave that has more power than my brand-new one at home which, thankfully I did not bring.

I just wish I could decide what to do.

Small towns

Where my brother works they have removed the conventional coffee maker and replaced it with one of those single-serve coffee machines. These are great except there is never a pot of coffee at the ready. And each person has to bring his or her own single serve supplies. So knowing how absent-minded Jon is I have taken to sending him boxes of them so he will (generally) have them, unless I forget too.

One of the coffee brands I bought this time was something I have tried and liked before called Community Coffee. Somehow this made me think of small towns. You know, where there is a dry goods or general store on a prominent street corner and everybody gathers there at various times of the day sitting out on the front of the store drinking coffee, or around the wood stove or some kind of heat source inside the store.

I lived in a really small town for a while in middle Tennessee that had such a store. It was the kind of place where no matter what she felt like that day the proprietress would greet you with a great big smile and a hello and, if applicable, a reminder that your monthly “tab” was getting larger than normal or it had been a pretty smart while since you’d paid it and you might want to pay on it when next you came in. All the latest gossip could be found here, passed along in unruffled monotones, same as the day’s farm report or weather forecast.

And they sold everything, from lollipops to clothes irons to chicken feed to canned goods. Hard-scrubbed bare wooden floors, shelves along the walls and through the center of the store laden with all manner of mercantile, the cash register area groaning with overstuffed magazine rack, cigarettes, cigars, toys, candy and overwhelming clutter. And if they didn’t have it and you needed it right away well they knew just where to get it or, if you could wait, they could have it for you in a matter of a few days.

Something about these stores was friendly and true. There was a sense about them that so long as they were here there is a center to life that could be referenced to, where you and everything else mattered.

And your favorite box of cereal or brand of chili peppers was always in the same place on the shelf.

September 11

It’s never going to be just another ordinary day in America. And every year after the first shocking day the threats loom greater.

I was a librarian then (my 5th and final career). One of 4 others as a telephone reference team. I answered a frenetic call from a coworker I thought was calling with some made-up story throwing smoke to hide being late. It wasn’t made up.

We were sent home. At the time I worked in downtown Charlotte, NC a couple of blocks from the Bank of America world hq building so the entire area was evacuated. I’d much rather have stayed at work. Going home I was alone with my thoughts and the television, watching a horror unfold in a disconnected way.

Too stunned to be afraid. I answered the phone, my son’s small voice, “Mom?” His classes had been cancelled, we did not know what to say. Incomprehensible. “America’s going to recover, we may have been knocked down but we won’t stay down.”

Any words sounded terrible and hollow in the face of what was happening, most of which we would not even know the extent of for days. Weeks.

And now 13 years later. We are watching. And praying.

Pss. 16, 18, 23