Partying in Palm Springs. Galivanting through Cabo. Rolling the waves off Waikiki. Yep, that’s me on Spring Break…yeah, that’s not happening. I’ve always been intrigued by the college ritual of Spring Break. Any excuse for falling down drunk, orgies, drug-tainted nights where you surrender yourself to whatever whim and desire you wish with the promise you will not remember a bit of it the following day or the next week, so there will be no guilt that you acted wildly out of character and hopefully anonymously. The fear of exposure makes you pucker up your brain and shrink away into a corner to hide.
I remember days like that so long ago, and I wasn’t attending college. It was more than a lifestyle. It was a mission to see how many party days I could fit into one day, to hell, one weekend. I proved that one could fit more hours into twenty-four hours, squeezing minutes into seconds, hours into minutes, and days into hours. Time was stretched and compressed so much that you lost the rhythm of the space-time continuum. Back then, there was no point in a watch. What would be the point? The watch could not measure the stream of lies you told yourself that this would be the last time you got this high and this drunk, the last party you would attend and then forget about it as soon as you left (Who are all these people? How did I get here?).
In 1980, driving a friend’s Volvo (What a great car) back from Miami to Washington, D.C., we stopped in Daytona Beach to catch our breath. Who remembered that it was Easter weekend and Spring Break? Well, we sure didn’t as we traveled up and down A1A looking for an empty room and finding laughter from the motel clerks instead. What do they say about perseverance and patience? Hey, it was a bed in a room with a shower and the sounds of drunkenness and sex and a party next door until they broke night, and you realize that there’s not going to be any sleep in this room.
Everyone outside has to be at least twenty-one or two or eighteen or even seventeen, not that it mattered as you walked the beach sands. You could swear there was a rule somewhere that driving your car in wet sand was not a good idea or even legal. Still, there they were, racing north and south through a gauntlet of screaming, hysterical, barely standing, barfing college students (I just assumed they were all college students, but something told me that this was also Spring Break for high school students too). We stood at the water’s edge and wondered why we felt so old in our early thirties, and partying like this was a strange occurrence. The only difference between them and us was that we were drunk in a two-story row house or the Hawk N Dove and not on an Atlantic Ocean beach. We also didn’t drive a convertible up and down Rhode Island Avenue half-naked, drunk, stoned screaming. No, we were a little more circumspect and cautious that we didn’t perform gratuitously in front of the police (Funny, I don’t remember ever seeing any Daytona Beach police). There was no sleep to be gotten that night. Not with hard-core partying on either side of our room (what was that rhythmic stomping coming from both rooms?). That was one of those nights that you knew you would write about one day.
This week, I’m content with hanging at Seal Beach and Sunset Beach and taking photos of the sky, ocean, and beach. Sitting at the sand’s end and closing my eyes and listening, a quiet close listening, for the sounds of the enormous container ships as they ride the still waters to their final destination. The screeching seagulls ride the waves of air, showing off their wide wingspans, teasing us to look up so they could aim for your head. Yuck. The sand was wet from last night’s storm. But there are the brave folks who, on an early weekday morning, are either walking across the sand or are firmly ensconced in a beach chair smoking a joint with only Catalina Island in front of them the twenty-eight miles from shore, the wealthy million-dollar homes lining the beach behind them. I’m cool with the peacefulness as I pump my meditation music into my earphones, allowing it to flow into my head and my body down to my toes. Spring Break. It’s just another excuse to search for and find those rare quiet moments when you can flush the bullshit out of your life, breathe easily, lazily, comforted by the inner voices that speak to you in many tongues, and you hear them say, it’s all cool. Daytona Beach is a million miles away and a thousand years ago, and that Spring Break is not this Spring Break.
With four or five weeks left in the semester, I am trying to get ahead in my studying, so I will use some of my driving and beach time to catch up on some reading and writing. It doesn’t mean I can’t mix chilling into the life I always dream about. The one where I’m done with twenty-four-hour parties and being reckless in Sodom and Gomorrah and trying to prove some dumb point which I forgot what it was a long time ago. No, I’m good with this life—this Spring Break.
The Ocean i look at it never setting my feet in it…not even the sand touches me. on the edge scanning the horizon searching for what’s out there the surfers in their black suits sailboats dodging the container ships that dwarf them your cars, furniture, spring clothes deep in their bays passing me and don’t have a care in the world because it’s the ocean i wish upon the majesty of its vastness the deepness of its body the hope of its promise waiting for me to stand at its edge and pray (not in that way) pray that it will always welcome me.