With New York in my wake, I have settled at my friend Alicia’s house forty-six miles south of Boston for a short stint. She has a cute, altered cape that sits up on a hill away from the road. Her home is decorated with plants and art and is perfectly comfortable with numerous extra rooms and a lovely back porch overlooking a garden. My stay is a far cry from the somewhat isolated existence I was experiencing living in New York in the pandemic. There is a lot of activity in her household. Her son, her animals and people who work for her trapse in and out. Friends that live nearby visit, and many evenings we catch a movie and drink wine. Some days, Alicia and her friend come to the house after work and the three of us put dinner together and enjoy each other’s company. As divorcees, we relish in the group effort to cook, and unlike being married, there is help in cleaning up.
The nights when Alicia is out, I find various things to do such as getting some writing done, and I also find myself entertaining her dog and her two cats. The cats come and go, but her dog Socky, short for Socrates, is a different story. He is a small shnowzer mix with curly black hair and white eyebrows who, at times, barks with anxiety at her absence, to the point where I had to develop a strategy. He has numerous psuedonyms such as Schmoize, Mertz or Chomps, which came about by his incessant chomping at his dry skin. Since I smoke, I figured I’d take Chomps out to the side stairs while I leisurely puff on a few fags, read, and keep him company. This seems to work.
On our porch smoking excursions, Schnoiuzenheimer or Seamus, has taken to eating grass and what is most likely cat dung in between chewing on himself. The grass eating distracts him from biting off his own limbs, one by one. At different times of the day, he breaks into a flurry of scratching and biting which is sometimes accompanied by a thudding sound that comes from his foot clanging on the floor. Alicia thinks it’s psoraisis, but it could be nerves or possibly crabs. Our evenings spent on the porch have proven somewhat therapuetic for both of us. It’s helped me burn through some books and he barks less. There is a ballet of spinning and kicking that accompany our time together, but it’s a small price to pay for reading David Sedaris sans barking.
My time in Plymouth also includes walks on the beach. A quick drive down the main road that parallels the Atlantic Ocean brings me to the Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church where I park. Bonaventure sounds more like a water park outside Philly than a place of worship, but apparently he was a saint. I make my treck down a private street to the mouth of a cliff that overlooks a secluded stretch of sand and rock. At the precepice there is an extremely long set of rickety wooden stairs that are almost three stories high. I descend the weathered, uneven steps for what seems like forever onto the divine beach with its large blue sky and ocean encircling rough, rocky breakwaters like exclamation points in the sand. There is an elegant breeze carrying the aroma of salt water that permeates my senses. The sound of the waves crashing instantly brings me to a place of serenity and quiet. I walk toward the water and my problems seem to vanish. I breathe and take it all in. Finally I can relax. I walk past several breakwaters. Suddenly I’m brought out of my trance. “Hiya.” I look over and see a thin man of middle-age with scruffy greying overgrown hair. He is clad in an over-sized t-shirt with the the arms cut off. He looks like the guy from Shameless (the American version).
Clutching a beer, William H Macy waves. I look around to see who he could possibly be motioning to. “I got my eye on you,” he said looking in my direction. I’ve noticed him on some of my walks with a shoulder bag of what I can only imagine are beer cans. I suspect his online dating profile pic shows him at the beach with his beer like they’re a couple, along with the caption, “Loves the ocean. Riveting conversationalist. Must love beer.”