Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Exit to Fire Island

Two nights ago I was sitting by a copper fire pit in a Long Island backyard, making s'mores, trying to look up the French word for 'Asbestos' to help an a guy from Adelaide explain something to a woman from Brittany. The something had to do with how the fire had been started by our host using a can of gasoline in such a way that prompted his one-toothed father in a sleeveless shirt to yell at him from the porch for a good couple minutes. Apparently even though asbestos being inhaled as particles is horribly dangerous for you, putting a sheet of it down on dry grass is a good idea for protecting against fire.

A group of eight couchsurfers, either living in or traveling through New York were camping in the yard so that we would be up and ready to spend the next day, Memorial Day, on Fire Island. It's a 50km long pencil shaving of a barrier island, and averaging about 300 m wide, just a bit east of where I got horrifically sunburned while on set for Men In Black III. We were headed for Atlantique Beach.

The ferry ride was half an hour on a cloudless day that left no doubt about summer's arrival. We sat in the upper deck, in the back, letting the wind do crazy things with our hair and the Aussie's beard (still substantial even after one of the slightly more inebriated locals had snipped off about five inches of it with kitchen scissors the evening before). We docked, paused for the restrooms and hilariously awkward debate with the Hong Kong native about guessing certain clothing sizes of women walking by. Then we walked the five minute walk from the bay side to the ocean side.

I've seen some beaches before, and this had some of the nicest white sand beaches I'd seen in some time. It would have been perfect had the water been warmer than ice. It was still pretty nice just hitting the sand and walking along the shore, pausing to grab a quart of Ben and Jerry's, sitting on a bench near the dock, passing it down a line and making fun of ducks.

In fact, really that was what made the trip: sharing stuff. Whether it was taking a walk with the Armenian interior designer to get coffee, a loaf of bread, and two dozen eggs to augment the bacon our host had out for breakfast, or three of us in a row at the chowder house near sunset, passing down our bowls of seafood bisque, Manhattan clam chowder, and New England clam chowder in a line so everyone could try some to wash down the raw clams and oysters we'd practically inhaled minutes before. The food was only part of it. It was the times and stories we shared to that made the trip. The only one things we all had in common was that we were all travelers registered on couchsurfing.org, we all had a decent grasp of English, and we were all there. And that was all we needed.

It's good to have weekends like these.

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