Every year since 1991, my family (my parents and my aunt Rory and uncle Peter, that is) has rented a house on Nantucket for one to two weeks. I’ve been able to go almost every year (I didn’t go the year Jonah was born, for example). Santina, Jonah, and I will be leaving Monday to fly to Boston. Tuesday we’ll drive to Hyannis and catch the ferry to Nantucket. We’ll be there for almost two weeks, so my blog won’t be updated much, if at all, during that time.
What does Nantucket mean to me? Nantucket, or rather, vacationing on Nantucket, is about doing nothing. Well, maybe not nothing, but doing relatively little. In college I valued my vacation time for being low-intensity. Nantucket epitomized that. I’d play some tennis, go out to dinner with my parents, and maybe write some poetry. Nice and relaxing.
Things have changed a little since Jonah was born, but Nantucket is still relaxing. I’ll leave you with a Nantucket poem (I’ve added a couple to my poetry page). Until then, meet me at the grey house with the white trim…
Traveling to Nantucket
I long to travel. To board a ferry
bound for Nantucket. Across a blue strip of ocean,
not too far,
but far enough. Far enough that I can’t see the cape
from the island.
Far enough to get away from cities
with their smog breathing in, their traffic,
the cars coughing men. And work and school,
the tedious and tiring, the reinforced
concrete and painted steel,
dominating skyscrapers and vast cement boulevards.
away from here.
I long to travel. To step off the ferry
and walk onto an island, Nantucket,
walk on cobblestone streets or red brick sidewalks.
Stroll down Main Street, past the planter box
in the middle of the road,
the one all the cars drive around,
the one with the red and yellow and orange
flowers. To turn down a side street,
float past the antique shops, art galleries, seafood restaurants,
and most importantly,
the cafés and bookstores.
But the time will come to visit all of these places.
Before all else, I will rest.
Sleep in a room built with wood walls,
a house covered with gray shingles. Sleep
past noon and then go for a walk.
Back to the center of town, past
the bed & breakfast inns where young
couples always stay. Again down side streets,
streets with English names line North Water,
Orange, or Pleasant. On an island of Indian
places-Nantucket, Madaket, Siasconset.
Grabbing names slinking off their signs,
crawling up to me, tugging on my shoe-laces as if to say:
You will not find San Mateo here. No Los Altos,
Alameda de las Pulgas, El Camino Real.
California this ain’t.
When I have tasted my fill of names, then
turn into the next shop. A bookstore,
a place to browse, to lose an afternoon
just looking, reading bits and pieces of books of poems,
reading thought-provoking science fiction from an obscure
Polish writer. Slip out onto the red brick sidewalk again
to find a café, a place to sit at a marble table
on a black-and-white tile floor and contemplate.
Contemplate poetry, both the books freshly purchased
and my own slop. Catch
snippets of conversations,
odds and ends of discussions
on politics or religion sometimes, but mostly
about others. Gossip.
Listen to the gossip, absorb it through osmosis.
Maybe smile at the waitress with the long, dark brown
hair. Drink another cup
then leave. Return to the wood-walled
room. Tomorrow I leave. Tomorrow I
return to the dark constructs of man.
Tomorrow I begin to long to travel, again, to
long for those June days of espresso and chocolate-chip ice cream,
of subtle flowers and subtler poems.
Now I long to travel, to Nantucket,
once more, on my own.