At 6:00am on March 22, 2012, I had an epiphany and moved to Rockaway beach. Okay, not that very day, but the summer that followed traces back to that moment. The Aha happened on a sunrise commute to my Upper West Side coffee shop job. Journal says: "3/22/12 Great ideas strike before dawn? I am biking to work in pre-dawn humidity. It occurs to me to take my own advice, to act on my dreams if I continue to say they're my dreams: live and work at Rockaway. Live fulfilling your dreams."
That Spring was ripe for dreams. My then-new boyfriend and I talked constantly about our visions of life, finding so much overlap, feeling everything possible. Diary entries demanded in all caps, "Remove your own obstacles. Get out of your way. What are you waiting for? Who do you want to be, and how are you not yet there? Who do you want to be??" He wanted: to be a rock star. I wanted: to be warm, hot even, and naked (or bikini'd) on a daily basis.
Through a morning of unlimited coffee and rumination, the plan turned from plausible to likely. I worked out details in my head, texting key players in my soon-to-be future. First, my future employer ("Do you need people to work at the taco shack this summer? Like me? Also, after you say yes, do you know anywhere I can live at the beach?"). Second, my roommate ("I have a big thing to talk to you about that I think could make me really happy. Can you meet me at Union Square this afternoon?") By sundown I was subletting my room; by the end of the weekend, solidifying live/work arrangements a half block from the beach.
The summer that followed I will never forget. There were crises ranging from "What am I doing working in a taco shack? I'm 28!" to taking the bus to an emergency room in Far Rock. There were times of frustration, mostly involving early morning/late night MTA treks to my boyfriend's place in Crown Heights. Overall it was a time of immense creativity, community and feeling connected to my one blue love, the ocean. That October, Superstorm Sandy rocked Rockaway in a physical and metaphorical tidal wave. The boardwalk where I trained myself to long distance run was ripped from its moorings and battered against houses lining the shore. The beach we pressed our sun-bathing bodies into lost half its sand to the sea. I had moved out of my beach-employee commune the month prior and spent the storm in a dark apartment on the Lower East Side, powerless both for the loss of electricity and to help my friends who rode out the storm in Rockaway. Since that summer, life has shifted and the Rockaway scene has, too. Each Spring I catch myself in the throes of summer fever- usually at winter's coldest- wondering how to rearrange my life for another season next to the sand. The circumstances haven't aligned themselves to find me a place again in the 11693 zip code (yet), but my commitment to the beach does not waver. I visit Rockaway now as a down-for-the-day friend, a tourist, who pledges her love to the beach in hours logged commuting across trains and boroughs to visit her paradise.
This blog is for the off season, some say the low season, when it's hard to remember what 90 degrees feels like, when you no longer find sand at the bottom of your bags, when you think Summer could never possibly come again. This is for those of us with Summer Fever year round. Hoping to inspire you as you continue to inspire me.
See you at the beach,