So you leave steaming Manhattan behind, you travel underground, eastbound on the MTA grid, you hop off a subway, climb up to daylight at a major Brooklyn terminal, catch a real double decker train with real windows onto real views of the suburbs, keep traveling east while standing in the isle of a packed upper deck – this being a Friday afternoon exile to the Hamptons and everywhere in between – and eventually, you are spat out at a station erroneously called Bayshore.
But you have been there before and know that said bay and shore lie some 15 or 20 minutes walk time away, so you walk, frowning upon the shuttle bus service that offers to let you catch the next ferry for the modest sum of $4 per person.
Yes, I said ferry. You are bound for Fire Island, one of New York City’s most accessible and yet most perfectly isolated weekend getaways. There will be rules. Once on the ferry, you will probably sit on the outside upper deck and look around curiously at the colorful crowd of regulars commuting to their part-time beach house. You will see a few dogs that fit into handbags and also many young human specimens escaping the city for a couple of days of drinking. I mean fun.
When you set foot on the island itself, you will suddenly be struck by a strong case of the Fridays. Loosen the tie. Phone optional. Bare feet encouraged. No cars allowed. Time flowing at a different speed, more like molasses than blood. Bob Marley’s absence of worries embedded in every inch of the place. Lots of sun, if you are lucky. Many odd characters. Like Larry and Richard in Weekend at Bernies, you will feel like the place is yours to conquer. A real island.
So you will lose the shoes, loosen anything tight, slow your inner rhythms to that of wind and tide, and you will see this. At least I did. An angel. But I confess I had brought her along with me.
But then Dan, Nancy and Ariana, our hosts whom I affectionately refer to as DNA, were perfect. They did not interfere. They know better. They have been on the island before. They understand that everyone gets different feedback from Fire Island. Murmuring to your ear like a mermaid luring a sailor deep into the ocean with her songs. “Come, stay, relax, swim, walk, drink. Never leave me!”
The song I hear is likely to be nothing like yours. As potent, as sweet, as charming. But mine speaks of many memories past, all island-born, all sun-bleached. What is your song like?