Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Friends visiting means I get to go to places I've never been. Like Coney Island. Steph and I met in the darkroom at UCSD and going on photo safaris was always something we enjoyed doing together. Everything I read online about Coney Island said to ride the Cyclone, eat a hotdog and avoid the bathrooms. (Foreshadowing: I only managed doing one of those things.) I surfed online trying to find the hidden gems we could eat at. I thought there was a rule: all towns have at least ONE hidden gem. I guess that's a no. We settled on leaving early thinking we'd get some beautiful early morning skies for our photos.
We walked out the door at 8:30am on Sunday, making a few key stops: coffee from the Roasting Plant and the Sunday Times. Integral items for a happy journey. Hopping on the D-train at Grand Street I was all ready for the 45-minute ride. While Steph read the NYT I focused on slogging my way through The Metamorphoses by Ovid, a little 'light' reading for grad school. The train was slow and quiet, it actually went along nicely with my Greek mythology.
Arriving at Coney Island at 9:30am we were greeted by locals doing their early morning walks, closed hot dog stands and an already blistering sun. Rarely have I been to a beach where I wasn't drawn to the coastline, this will have to stand out as the lone example. We walked up and down the wooden slatted boardwalk. I could smell the history of the place, I could feel the fact that my Grandma had told me she used to come here and that she met my Grandfather here. I noticed there was no shade and I worried I would get tan. Funny how these days I worry about things like that.
Dozens of older men walked past us in pairs. Mostly shirtless and speaking Russian. They walked by, heads bent down in serious conversation. I couldn't help but wonder what they were conniving about. After noticing the men I noticed the women. Older, wider women using beach towels to squeeze and shimmy out of their bathing suits. They were adorable. I wonder why I thought the men were up to something sneaky but the women were cute and simple. There were lots of bikers out, even one guy on a bike that was a half rowing machine, half bicycle. It was like seeing something from my book: part man, part machine, a 21st century version of Pan. My mouth dropped open and I stared.
We finally made it over to Nathan's for the obligatory hotdog and lemonade. There was nowhere to sit so we promised Ruby's, the stand next door, that we would buy something from them if we could please just sit. So, because I prefer sitting to standing, french fries rounded out our lunch. They were all good, but not something I need (again) anytime soon. After the bad nutrition and the omnipresent sun we slowed down to a snails pace. It was like we had aged enough to join the surrounding demographic. We walked by the rides and glanced over, shrugged our shoulders and kept on moving. "Yeah, I think I'm done," Steph said. "Yep, me too."
Slowly we made our way back to the subway station and settled into the train for the ride home. Opening my book I tried to focus on the Greek gods but instead I heard the babies screaming and the men speaking loudly in Chinese. Using my finger as a bookmark and the seat pole as a headrest I closed my eyes. Tired from the Coney Island adventure I leaned back and fell asleep.