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April 17, 2001
Plugging Back In


You will unplug your small appliances, pause the newspaper delivery, let a few people know where your taxes are compiled (done but as yet unfiled) and where your incomplete novel resides, and then load up the car for your trip and join the masses hurtling out of town on the nation's fine freeways.

You will follow a course plotted on the map and hunt down roads as they get narrower and narrower and finally trail off where land ends, by a mossy, modest pier. There you will park your vehicle, unload your stuff and hand over a stack of banknotes to a toothless, white-haired gentleman who resides in a shack flying a Jolly Roger underneath a confederate flag. In exchange for the money he will agree to ferry you to a sandy strip off the coast and pick you up a few days later.

You will gingerly step over a sleeping dog as you carry your boxes, bags, coolers to a leaky boat and speed off and away from the coastal towns with waitresses named Shirley and sandwich shops advertising they're "sub-sational." The southern gentleman will guide you expertly through a maze of grassy patches lying between the coast and the barrier island.

Once you've completed your amphibious landing you can choose to hang out with the day-trip crowd flocking to the lighthouse and the visitor center, or push on toward the ocean side, courtesy of a pickup truck labeled "the mule" or your own car if you've chosen to bring it.

Since your species has long evolved itself out of its capability to survive in the wild you must erect some sort of shelter and go about cooking food and taking care of associated bodily functions. Animals, by contrast, can simply wait it out when it rains, choose not to bathe, don't mind if their food comes with a side of dirt or sand, and they dump their organic waste in plain sight, with ease and utter lack of preparation. They also never consume alcohol, at least not willingly, and here the difference will assert itself even more strongly. You will sit across from the crashing waves and drink the hours down, and when it gets cold you will build a bonfire. If you choose to throw the empty bottles into the fire you should be aware that they will explode and produce shards, and that a cork pressure-fired out of the snout of an empty, heated wine bottle will duplicate the function of a tracer bullet across the night sky pretty effectively.

If you're lucky you will encounter schools of dolphins passing you by as you sit on the beach with your drink in hand, and you will see at least five different kinds of seagull -- the prize being the amazingly huge, elegantly tuxedoed Greater Black-Backed Gull -- not to mention terns, sandpipers, pelicans, and cormorants. It's best to maintain a measure of sobriety, there'll be a quiz later.

In the end you will get dirty and tired and your appointment with the southern soldier will approach -- pesky annoyances that wild animals can easily lick away or safely ignore but you must handle. You will bundle up your belongings and garbage and catch your ferry and retrace your steps like a well-trained dog. You will come back to your waiting piles of commitments and your house. The former will appear bigger and the latter will be pretty much the same, if welcoming in a restrained manner and showing its needs a tad more than just a few days ago: dust me, clean me, keep me from sagging too much too soon.

You will plug the small appliances back into the power grid and go to bed. Tomorrow it'll be your turn.

Kids enjoying the spray from a fire engine's hose, Charlottesville, ca. 1995

Kids enjoying the spray from a fire engine's hose, Charlottesville, ca. 1995.

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All text and images © Aziz Gökdemir's Archive unless otherwise indicated or credited.
The current banner photo was taken on the grounds of the Hains Point golf course in Washington during the snowstorm accompanying the Curious George Bush Junior inauguration weekend. For the story on the foxes in the picture see this January dispatch.


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