it's been just about a year since I've last posted. Damn. I suppose it's been just a year. So many of them happen and I needed time to just experience. Just, just, smust. Screw it. I'm not supposed to do anything...which leads nicely to what I did today. I went to Dead Horse Bay and picked through a beach strewn with trash from the 50's. A friend of a friend suggested it and so after my weekly therapy session, wherein, my therapist and I are trying to slow me down and work through my issues around spending time alone, I went.
Wow. I love picking through brooklynite's curbside garbage, salvation army racks and otherwise finding treasures, but the trash from the 50's is just so f-ing cool. I arrived at low tide, and so at first it was slow going: a tiny glass bottle, perfectly intact, but all beached; a miniature ceramic boy's head; a shriveled up pacifier. I took pictures of fragments of bottles with letters; an ambulance toy embedded sadly in the sand; the seductive curve of white porcelain toilet sticking out.
AND then, I rounded the corner of the bay, and found the Mother lode. The source of All Our Thrown out Crap was there to see sticking out awkwardly from the eroding dunes-
AND as the tide had gone out by that time, the beach was 50 percent full, lined with glass bottles, mostly intact. Outdated soda pop bottles: Kist, Emerald something or other, along with Pepsi and Coke, or course. A LOT of Pepsi and some Coke - Another common theme: Clorox Bleach. LOTS of brown bottles of Clorox Bleach. How Ironic. And then my favorite: a huge (14 feet long!) tangled knot of nylons: a knarly beached leviathan that was taken daily into the bay by the tide to make sure that no ladies undergarments floated alone.
Speaking of floating alone: shortly after the nylonmonster I came upon a man with a baseball cap and a rake, ignoring the bottles, overturning bricks and stones, combing expertly through the refuge. And so we floated together a little while. I played This American Life with him, which I've decided is WAY better than sitting on a subway listening to the weekly Podcast versions (though I DO LOVE these...).
"Lemme tell 'ya...this makes me happier than a pig in you know what! I got the fresh air, my body's movin', I can't sit at home with the old lady with a remote in my hand, I gotta keep movin' the retired garbage collector tells me. And after 25 years in the Garbage Business, the man knows his trash. He showed me a couple pieces of pink tinted 'depression glass,' shards, which, when whole, had been given out at the movies or in Quaker Oats boxes during our country's other depression. As we're walking together I can tell he's an expert at this, seeing past the larger obvious items (“I usedta collect bottles, but then I realized WHAT AM I GOING TO DO with all this crap? And so now I just pick up stuff that's worth something, gold, silver, coins, doing this is the BEST, I'm happier than a pig in you-know-what being out here”).
What was his favorite find? A cowboy doll from a tv show that he loved when he was a kid. I wish I had asked which one.
His strangest find? A hand grenade. When he found it, “I did a John Wayne,” he says, tightening his jaw and squinting his eyes, “then I pulled the pin and threw it into the dunes.”
I try to get some advice from him, asking him if he has any method for finding treasures. “First off,” he tells me, “You need safety gloves- take it from me, I've been in this garbage business long enough to know, the toxicity here is out of control.” I press for a more philosophical methods and get “its a mindset of discovery. You can't look for stuff. you just gotta find it.” I had no idea that I'd find him out there.