Published in the Long Island Advance, September 20th
Last Sunday night was the one of those perfect evenings for walking. Almost fall like, it was cool and clear and the scents that perfumed the air overwhelmed me.
When walking outdoors, I have a few routes that I take that always lead me to the bay. Even on very cold winter days, that’s the direction I head, never north, always south, because I love the smell of the sea air.
On this particular evening as I started out toward the bay the first scent I noticed was that of a backyard fire place. I love the smell of fire places and used to have one in my yard. We would sit around it at night, drink coffee, talk with whoever showed up to sit and watch the fire burn, and listen to the Screech Owl that lived in the woods nearby.
Layered over top of the burning wood smell, was the scent of autumn clematis in full bloom. Growing vigorously throughout the summer, it blooms in a mass of tiny white flowers that perfume the air with a heady, sweet scent. This particular smell I recognized immediately, having planted this variety of clematis in my garden years ago and each summer, watching as it climbed its way up the side of my dining room window, with the scent of the tiny white flowers traveling into the house on the heels of the breeze that blew in through the open windows.
As I got closer to the bay, the scent of the sea air mingling with the others made me feel wistful, missing home before I have even left it. I love this smell, the smell of the bay and nearby ocean, that mixture of seaweed and salt, shells and suntan lotion. I have a “sun and sand” candle and a perfume called “Beach,” both of which if I close my eyes and breath in deeply, remind me of what it’s like to lie on the beach and listen to the surf roll onto shore, and watch the gulls as they glide on the ocean breezes.
As I continued my walk my son pulled up to the stop sign on the corner of Brook Street and Rider Ave. Having only seen him a short while before for dinner, it was amusing to run into him again so soon. Further up the road, I saw my father as he rode his bike across Rider, heading back home from his evening bike ride and one of my old neighbors as she cut her lawn. It’s odd to feel so excited about moving away and so sad about it too, sad to think about missing out on these every day encounters that for so long I have taken for granted.
My pile of boxes in the living room of my brother’s house is getting larger. I keep trying to keep in mind what he said when I was starting to say good-bye. (I’ve been starting to say good-bye in a variety of ways for a while now.) He reminded me that I’m moving to Queens, not California. I often use that line when talking about my move to other family members, like my 12 year old niece Regina, who I have also lived with for the past three years. We are making plans now for things she would like to do when she comes to visit me. This way, she too can be excited when I move, and not sad.
There’s a very good possibility that the next time I appear here, I will have written this column from an apartment in Jackson Heights. Hopefully I will be able to regal you with amusing tales and observations about how different life will become. I’m thinking that possibly I can get over the homesick part prior to actually leaving, at least that’s what I’m going to hope will happen. I’m feeling a bit dramatic about it all; you would think that I wasn’t planning to be back at least every other weekend. And in between, I can always turn out the lights, light my “sun and sand” candle, spray on my “Beach” perfume and close my eyes and breathe deeply.
(I can't believe I still have not posted my birthday column. Actually, I'm still working on it. )