I've been here since Saturday -- Chris arrived Sunday afternoon, having attended his father's memorial service in Maine -- and it wasn't until sometime around yesterday afternoon that I began to feel as though I were really on vacation. Away. Time off is one thing, extended time off is yet another... but time off in a peaceful location by the sea, hundreds of miles from home is something entirely different.
Yet I must continue to remind myself that I don't have to do anything, I don't have to be anywhere or report to anyone about some terribly urgent matter that cannot wait lest it negatively impact the future of someone I've never met...forever. This morning I had a donut first, then breakfast -- scrambled eggs, toast and linguica, Portuguese sausage made in New Bedford and not generally available anywhere but this part of New England. A pot of good coffee. And when I've finished this post, maybe, an iced cinnamon roll.
Provincetown hardly changes, year to year. Stores open and close, of course, while others have been in business for decades. Restaurants come and go, depending on the trends, while others are mainstays that serve consistently good food no matter the season. In season, Commercial Street is packed with day-trippers and vacationers, window-shopping and having their pictures taken with the seven foot drag queens handing out cards for their shows. (Observation: there are always a number of posters around town advertising appearances by lesbian comedians -- comediennes? -- who seem content to go onstage as themselves to do their thing; while I don't think I've ever, in all the years I've been coming here, seen a poster for a male entertainer who wasn't wearing a dress and a wig the color of Kool Aid. I'm just saying...)
Off-season, the streets are quieter and the sales have started -"50% Off Entire Store!"- meaning that, at least in the case some of the men's shops, there's a lot of inventory that's now only rather expensive, as opposed to "are you fucking kidding me with these prices?!" expensive.
The beach, of course, does change, the shoreline constantly eroding and being built back up. The marsh one traverses to get out to the far reaches of Herring Cove is never the same year to year, yet always seems the same: the tidal pools, the grasses and scrub pine and beach plums. The smell of the sea. The tidal pools full of minnows and the crabs with the black shells, decorated with gold calligraphic patterns, burrowing in the sand at your toes.
I've been coming to Cape Cod since I was a kid. My mother was born and raised here. I've certainly been to other seaside resorts, other beaches in other parts of the world. But there is nowhere like Provincetown, tucked into a crook at the far end of the Cape, surrounded by water, its air and light unlike those of anywhere else I've ever been. It isn't home, it may never be, but it always feels like it.