My first week in Massachusetts, I spread out my beach towel at Wingaersheek Beach.
All around me I hear the Massachusetts accent. The “aw” sound is distinctive, easily recognizable and so different than the “o” sound in words I know, south of the Mason Dixon line. There are clusters of people on blankets, under umbrellas, in beach chairs. A couple strolls by me toward the water, their hands linked together. I feel conspicuous, like anyone who might glance my way would pity me; a loser. All alone at what is obviously a glorious beach day.
I was sixty-three when my government service changed. I had worked in an area I enjoyed, public affairs. My office was located in the executive suite with wall to wall carpeting and a receptionist who screened my calls. Then, I was transferred to the corner of a mouse infested fifty-five-year-old garage. The person whom I replaced – in the facility’s garage – was being prosecuted for theft. Unable to fill the position because no one wanted it, I was assigned there. I shared a restroom with the maintenance crew, pumped gas and parked cars.
Since my salary was not reduced along with my circumstances, I stayed until I could retire with a pension. Then, I sold my house and moved to Massachusetts.
A year later, I obtain a summer parking pass for Crane’s Beach.
In early June, the sea air is cool as I spread out my towel. The crowd is sparse, there is no one in the water. A couple walks past. I can hear snatches of their conversation in the accent to which I have grown accustomed. When he lies on his side on their blanket, she sits perpendicular to him, resting her head on the side of his chest that faces her. It is so intimate; I can’t take my eyes off of them, until the shrill of a seagull makes me look up.
White wings spread out; he soars. I don’t see another anywhere. He lands near me. Folding his white wings onto his back, he has ribbons of gray feathers down each of his sides. The seagull cocks his head and takes a few web footed steps toward me before his spreads his wings out again and flies off.
Scanning the fluffy clouds, I cannot see him as I rise to walk along the water.
Caryn Coyle now lives in Massachusetts