This morning I woke up two hours earlier than I’d intended due to the frantic yowling of my neighbor’s horny cat. The cat, as it is an inside cat and was hanging out on a second-story balcony about eight feet from my bedroom window, did not have any other place to go howl, nor did it have any likelihood of finding another feline to make passes at, so this painful-sounding onslaught went on for nearly an hour without relenting. When the cat had finished, someone in a rather large vehicle decided to back it up slowly, prolonging the reverse-alert beep into an epic form of auditory torture. Doors slammed. A jet flew by. Cars honked at each other. After a while even the flock of itty bitty birds that perpetually chirp outside my window (and who I’ve learned to mostly ignore) became menacing.
The night before last I was unable to sleep because my apartment had been converted, in the course of twelve hours, into a sauna. The air was so thick and heavy that as I lay in my bed drenched in sweat at three a.m., I kept rolling around as if by moving I could shake off the weight of it. It’s only May, and already I’m beginning to regret that I didn’t take the financial and emotional risk of returning to the Island Of Misfit Toys for the summer. To have enough trees to generate sufficient shade, to be free from the sounds and smells of city, to have the ocean–swimmable ocean–only a 15 minute walk away…
I am not a city mouse. With two short exceptions, both of which made me moderately miserable, I have never lived in a place where I couldn’t walk to the beach. Though the water in Monterey was unbearably cold, it was there, and if I’d chosen to swim in it at any given point, I wouldn’t have been arrested or poisoned (with the exception of Lover’s Point, that beautiful shit-filled idyll in Pacific Grove, which we locals all knew to avoid). If it got too hot during the day, I could just take a dip in the drink and cool off. I’ve never been able to understand how people can reconcile the germ-ridden ick of public pools enough to actually get in them–until now. Though public pools will retain indefinitely their title of “bodies of water I’m least likely to step into,” I can understand the desperation that the sweltering hell of summer in the city can bring a person to, particularly if that person is a child and countless hours of nothing to do while their parents are at work.
Since I’ve been on my summer schedule (four days of working in the city, three days off on the island), it’s as though I’ve been living two distinct and separate lives. In one, I do very little apart from working. I wake late, laze around for longer than I should, and on the very hot days, I pray for rain. In the other, I am up before noon, out in the sunshine, the fresh ocean breeze taunting my nostrils and inviting me to go for a swim (I haven’t yet, and I have no excuse). Half of my week is spent looking forward to the other half. Though the social aspects of my life have not changed at all in the city (all I did was work to begin with), I feel I’m constantly missing out on something that’s going on on the island, something that I should be part of because–and it’s taken me years to even consider saying this–I might belong there.
I have spent many years pining for faraway places–California, Europe, New Zealand–and I pine for some of them still. I never thought, however, that I’d come at some point in my life–and certainly not so soon–to pine for where I came from. But then, everything is circular, isn’t it?