A Visit to Coney Island: Walking In The Surf

Coney Island Greeting Card

So now we come to my favorite part of every trip to Coney.  The place where I leave my landbound troubles behind and walk down to the water.

I love beaches.  Any beach.  They’re very elemental places.  You can’t put your feet where the Earth, Wind and Water come together and think about bullshit.  Dreams and fantasies, yes, especially those, but never bullshit.

A beach is the only place on a round planet that you can go to the end of the world and look over the edge.

I have said these things before, maybe on this very blog, and I’m going to keep saying them, because they’re part of my truth.  Sometimes I think I’m like Antaeus, and I need to draw my strength from the Earth, but unlike Antaeus, there are only a few places I can do that.  My parent’s home is one.  My college is another.  Then there are the beaches.  I go to Coney not just to cool off and eat greasy food, but to draw strength.

Anyway.

One thing I used to do, once I reached the East end of the Boardwalk and walked out onto the sand, was to check out the houses that opened onto the beach and wish one of them was mine.

Since Sandy…

P1000319 P1000318 P1000317 P1000316

…not so much.  Still, you go down a little further…

P1000314

…and it gets better.

P1000323

Turn and look to the West…

P1000320

…and it just stretches on forever.

So I put my feet in the surf – a moment of cold, then I’m used to it; the water is actually quite warm, it’s just that the day is so hot – and start walking.

Told you these jetties punctuated the beach.

Told you these jetties punctuated the beach.

For me, the best part is the walk itself.  Get in the water  up to my knees, put some rock and roll on my iPod, and fade into another world.  I’ve mentioned before how much I love to slip away into that universe of American Rock & Roll, and while the stereotypical face of that world is a monolithic gotham or an open road through the wastelands, wild summer nights and burning beaches are just as ubiquitous, and as necessary as roaring motorcycles.

Many times, when I’ve walked that beach alone, I’ve imagined being a teenager again, walking that boardwalk with my girl at my side.  Thanks to my lady for helping that little dream come true.

Ah…but you can’t take a picture of any of that, can you?  So let me show you some of the sights you can see in this world on the way:

P1000329

I have no idea what this is.  Part of a pier, perhaps?

I have no idea what this is. Part of a pier, perhaps?

…and as you get in closer to the center at Stillwell….

Steeplechase Pier, another of my old friends wounded by Sandy.  You'll see more when I get closer.

Steeplechase Pier, another of my old friends wounded by Sandy. You’ll see more when I get closer.

P1000348

P1000354

That public bathroom from the first post, front view.

That public bathroom from the first post, front view.

P1000358

Steeplechase pier, landward.  See the construction?

Steeplechase pier, landward. See the construction?

And more.

And more.

Fortunately, at least you can walk under it now…

P1000368

…but on the other side, past the commercial center at Stillwell, you start to see more scars from Sandy.

Coney beach closed in high July?  Not  healthy.

Coney beach closed in high July? Not healthy.

Of course, the most fascinating sights of all are the people.

P1000313

P1000353

I’d show more, but this is still Brooklyn, and you can’t necessarily count on people’s reactions if you start clicking away at them while they’re in their beachwear, expectation of privacy be damned.

It’s a shame, really.  Most of the people you see at Coney are just regular folks like you or I, with a bit of belly or some cottage cheese in the seat.  Most know their limitations when it comes to beachwear, some don’t.

But then there are the perfect ones.  The young gods, carved from ebony or ivory or mahogany or topaz.  You don’t fall in love with them; it would be like falling in love with a mountain or a storm or fire.  But you admire and adore them.

I wonder what it’s like to be that perfect.  Is it hard work, or did they roll a critical success on the genetic dice?  Some combination of the two, surely.  Do I envy them for their perfection, or does it just mean that their sense of loss will be even greater when time takes its inevitable toll?

And you keep walking.

I should warn anyone thinking of following in my footsteps here, walking barefoot on wet, hard-packed sand can get to be like walking on concrete after a while.  The feet and the ankles, they ache.  What’s more, there’s a belt of broken shells collected just below the waterline, the remains of sea gulls’ dinners.  I tried to take pictures, but they didn’t look like anything.  Instead, take a close look at this rock:

Those black things are shells.  Sharp ones.

Those black things are shells. Sharp ones.

And here’s something else to consider:

P1000372

What you’re looking at right there is the true face of Coney Island.  If they didn’t truck in tons of soft white sand every year, that’s what you’d have: a beach of broken shells and gritty sand.

But I avoid the hazards and continue, until I reach:

P1000378

P1000373

P1000384

This is the Final Jetty.  The end of Coney.

Oh, the land continues, but beyond this jetty is a gated community:

Yeah, I wanted one of these, too, but if you look at how some of them are still being rebuilt, let's just say I'm reconsidering.

Yeah, I wanted one of these, too, but if you look at how some of them are still being rebuilt, let’s just say I’m reconsidering.

…so as far as us common folk walking the Coney Island beach are concerned, the world ends here as completely as the world beyond the wall in the Rue D’Auseil.

So I stand at the jetty and I look out to sea, drawing my strength from the Earth and Wind and Water, and I think of many things.  Youth.  Love.  Stories.  The shining horizon.  The things I want to build and make with my life.

P1000391

I’d have more to show you, but as I said, it was hazy that day, so I couldn’t get a good picture of the lighthouse.

Finally, heavy-hearted, I turn from the sea and head across the now-burning sands to start the journey back to the land.  And that will be our next and final post before the story begins on Wednesday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspirations, New York Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s