If I could, I would take pencil to paper and draw the sight of the houses lined up like soldiers at watch along the cliffs in all their salt-water taffy colored glory. I’d color in the fourteen, fifteen, maybe even twenty different shades of blue between sea and sky, only to run out of options when it came time to add the greens on the hills and in the hedges and in all the little nooks and crannies that only greens can grow. I’d sketch the birds in flight along the coastline, the sandy beaches running right up to rocky ridges and back again, dipping here and there as the waves softly etch away the lines and wrinkles of children’s footprints and sandcastles and leave behind a peppering of sun-bleached seashells and round, smooth stones. Somewhere along the coastline I’d run out of paper and realize that no amount of shading could begin to convey the fullness of life that billows forth from the father laughing at the surprise of the son who was so wrapped up in the antics of the dog nipping at the waves that he himself got caught up in the frothy foam. Shades of grey and pink and yellow and brown can’t capture the warmth of sunkissed sand or the tickle of the breeze on a bare shoulder.

If I could, I’d bottle up the tantalizing smell of a bonfire on the beach, crackling with the aroma of sausages roasted to near-bursting. Add in a hint of the sea-salt laden air, mixed thoroughly with the scent of the breeze and happiness and sunshine and the panic of the last minutes of summer slipping through the fingers of the holiday-makers. Popcorn and cotton candy and the dark, heavy scent of tired bodies lacquered with sunscreen and booze and cigarettes. The smell of the sun going down. I’d scoop it all up and pour it in a jar and realize as I labeled it that there simply was too much left out to truly encapsulate something as dense, as complex, as a single moment in time.

If I could, I’d record the sounds of tired children whining and their mothers breaking under the strain of many too many sugared highs collapsing all at once as they try to get their offspring and vacationing paraphernalia loaded back into the family car where it doesn’t seem to fit as neatly or as nicely or at all like it did when carefully loaded not even a week ago. I’d mix those with the sounds of flip-flops on the boardwalk and the scuffle of one more game of soccer in the sand; with the slurping sound signaling the end a milkshake and the whispers of young lovers strolling hand-in-hand, hip-to-hip down the strand in search of some small, still, secret place to call their own. Lay it all over the reverberating whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the tide coming in and falling back as it has since the beginning of time. But as I went to play it back I’d realize that I’d left out “Sweet Caroline” sung with a Welsh lilt and and the strum of a guitar for accompaniment and at least a million other necessary sounds, rendering the entire piece flat and useless.

What’s that old song? Something about taking a feeling and bottling it up and making a million? If I could, that’s what I’d do. And then I’d spend the million on R&D to figure out a way to translate life into characters on a page so that I could share the honeymoon bloom of seeing and feeling and exploring a place for the first time.

1 comment:

Lora said...

Love this. Love you.