Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smith Island, Maryland

Like I said in my last post, and I'm sorry I am not doing more of these these days, I went on a short vacation to Maryland. I'd been through Maryland before, but never to Maryland, and I found myself rather a bit enchanted by the place.


I admit, I half expected Baltimore to look like a bomb hit it, and I am sure there are parts that do, just as there are right here in Dayton, in NY, in LA. But what I did see of Baltimore, I was more than a little pleased with. Sitting, almost majestically, on the water, it was wonderful, made more so by the lively people who were making very very good use of the waterfront.


The next day, we went to Annapolis in the morning, a town that reminded me of some of the older places in New England. Those of you who, like me, came of age in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts know the look and feel I mean. It's that combination of new and old mixed with the sights and sounds of the sea being almost everywhere. It is a feeling that immediately embraces you, as the immensity of the power of the sea also sits there, quietly reminding you that one of the great forces of divinity lies right there at your feet, nurturing life yet dangerous to it.


We eventually head out toward the Eastern Shore, and South toward my friend's home on Smith Island. Understand something, the difference between Smith Island and Baltimore is like the difference between an anti hill and Dubai. The shift is almost immediate. Once you cross over to the Eastern Shore you are in a different world. A world that seem familiar to me, having lived in Ohio now for over a decade. It is a quieter place separated from the bustle of the Western Shore by the Bay's waters. The Scenery is almost breathtaking in parts, and then it becomes less like the sea side and more like the farmlands of Ohio that i have become accustomed to, that is, until you get to Salisbury, and are therefore near the point at which you will eventually head over to the Island from Crisfield.


Obviously, the waters here are calmer than they are on the actual Ocean shore. They are almost tempting, but I am assured that this time of year, the Jellyfish would make that an uncomfortable situation. Of course, I am not a swimmer, but the waters were inviting, almost as if Poseidon himself were calling to me.


And then, after a forty minute ride on a clunky, yet utterly charming boat captained by a man who, well, looked like he should be captaining that boat, we arrived at a world I had hoped I would see when I got there.


You see, there is NOTHING to do on Smith Island except breath and run from the mosquitos. Sure, if you live there there are the necessities of life to take care of, but if you're visiting, there really is nothing to do, nothing to see that can't be seen in 20 minutes, and then you just do nothing.




And you know what? That is exactly why you go there. That is exactly why you make your way there and leave the world behind you, and the great god Hermes lead me there for a reason, to remind me of a simpler life, and the magnificence of silence. But, I was with my friend, Steve, who for several years now has lived there, sometimes part time, but for a few years now, has made it his home. I was inspired to see him go about life. He does,  he creates, he fixes, and he makes himself useful to the people of the island, and in so doing he is able to  pay for those things he must, and by recycling the things others no longer want, or which are no longer needed, he lives and is made happy.


This was the lesson Hermes meant for me, I know it is, that I have been looking for a nebulous happiness that means nothing in the end, that it is possible to find happiness in simple things, in the beauty of a small boat plying the water, in the smile of a lonely woman seeking friendship, or in the strangely musical accent of a local woman as she speaks, happily, quickly, and with passion about her air conditioning unit.


That I, like so many of us, have been seeking happiness in things, and have forgotten that there are smaller things, simpler things, and things that we take for granted on a daily basis that can bring me that happiness I have been longing for, and all I have to do is figure out how to reach for it without fear and leave the complexity of this life behind me once and for all.


Babs said...

Bravo! You got it! Having lived on Smith Island myself, so many people just don't get it....24 hours there feels like a week....and when you're back to where you pay your bills, you daydream of those 24 hours and then you ache to return -- to nothing......

H├ęctor said...

Wow, small world. When did you live there?