Thursday, October 05, 2006

gilbert m. was my roommate for the short time that i lived on symphony road, tucked behind fenway park, rows of brick bay-window rowhouses that often had saxophones playing out the windows. i'd had my record albums lifted right out of a shopping cart that i was using to move all my stuff, when i went upstairs to look for the key, but i'd found gilbert to be a really nice roommate, and the deep green walls of the apartment, i still remember. gilbert was a native american, from los alamos, n.m., and was often silent for long periods of time. this made the moments that we were stuck hitchhiking together stretch out into the night. it could have been that nobody was going very far onto the cape, and we were trying to go all the way to the end of it. or maybe folks saw that a huge rainstorm was coming. or, as we suspected, it was racism, or maybe, just desire not to deal with two unknown men, which can be infinitely more threatening than dealing with just one.

anyway, we'd decided to hitchhike all the way out to the end of the cape, to provincetown, and it was taking us all day and beginning to turn into all night. we just couldn't get rides at all. it turns out that most of the last part of the cape are these wide dunes, just mostly sand, the sky, and ocean on most sides. if there are trees, they don't amount to much; there is one kind of changing house, a place where there is shelter, if you care to call it that, and a couple of fishermen were parked outside of it at about 3 am when we realized that the rain was turning into a downpour, and drenching everything we had on us. i believe we were prepared to camp, and had even unrolled our sleeping bags, if not tents, out there on the dunes, but within an hour of the downpour we knew all was doomed. it had not been the best expedition.

the fishermen did not even roll down their windows. they were going to do some serious fishing, i had to assume. gilbert was actually in a better mood about it than i was. maybe he had never seen such a rain. i felt kind of like a bad host; i went out on adventures a lot, wanted to show him how it was done; was hoping it worked out; felt bad that it hadn't. we wrung out our shirts and sleeping bags as we waited for a ride into town. no ride ever came; we walked a couple miles into a small town. in a laundromat we decided what we had to leave on while we dried the rest, and sat up on the tables to wait.

a young couple came in...this had to be about 4 in the morning, now. they were in love and probably high as a kite. had no business whatsoever in the laundromat, but we were clearly the only other souls awake in this small town at this hour, with the possible exception of the fishermen, and somehow they found us. the rain had let up outside but there were huge puddles everywhere. they'd been out jumping in the puddles, probably.

out on that sandy spit of cape, you could see ocean almost everywhere, and the dunes rose up from beneath you. when the sun came up we went to provincetown, or p-town as these young folks called it, but, somewhat in awe of nature, and sleepless, the little craft shops didn't do much for us, and we turned around for the long trip back. going back wasn't as hard as getting out there. somehow people were more willing to push us back to boston, toward the city, than they'd been willing to push us out to the edge, to the dunes. don't know if gilbert would remember this. don't know where he ended up, don't know how he saw all that pilgrim, yankee-type scenery. he did point out, though, that europeans had been in new mexico long before those pilgrims had arrived, and, that his people had been in the area much longer before that. i spared him the whole story of the early settlers of the colony...at the time, it seemed less like a colony, than just a windswept, storm-swept peninsula, drenched in gray seawater, shells cracking underfoot, and old pieces of beer bottle, worn circular by the tide, that would have skipped better, if the oncoming waves weren't so rough.

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