Lido di Camaiore

random thoughts from days on an Italian beach

Lido di Camaiore, colored pencil

It’s weird to be in a place so dreamlike, staring off into the distant mountains, waves relentlessly rising and falling, pushing you forward and pulling you back in the trough, hearing the laughter and splashing of kids, and feeling weightless floating in the sunny sea.  Contemplating my future, trying to turn myself into something, foolishly.  Why can’t we live without needing to “be” something, why can’t we just be, why can’t we just live.

Moments later I’ll be pulled back, out of the trough that is my mind, perhaps by a shout of one of the boys, or by the end of a thought. And I’ll realize where I am, and how I’m being innundated with words that sound familiar as if trying to remember a dream, and then I give up, with still the words flowing in and out of my ears. Reminding me where I am, and reminding me that even though I’m here, I can never truly be a part of it.  I will always be an observer of the scene, because resting in the sea while staring off into dreamy blue mountains isn’t a normality for me, It’s the people that don’t need to look twice at their surrounding, it’s those that swim in it, that are a part of it. 

The beach, is this mix of perfection and hell.  You’re in this beautiful place, blue mountains, in the not too distant horizon, with cool sparkling waters refreshing your feet that were burned by the sand some moments ago, and the salty waters mix with your spf 50 sunscreen that will sting your eyes for the next 30 minutes, wash off in the water, and end with you being sunburnt to a crisp.

After a few of these disconnected thoughts, slowly I noticed how cold the water started to feel, so I worked my way back to the shore. I began to realize that there are little pockets of warm water, where the water absorbs more sunlight, you just have to feel around for it, take a step here or there, stick out your leg, idk maybe it’s a metaphor for something.

the Brooklyn Bridge at 5am.

Apparently 5 AM is the quietest time in the city, but don’t take my word for it.  If you’re not in a rush, see it for yourself, the fresh city smells, not all tasty. Take a walk through Brooklyn down roads with little traffic in these early hours, awaiting the early risers, runners, trying to escape the miles of overpriced grey slabs, in every resounding footstep.  Walk towards Manhattan and behind the tall buildings will emerge the Brooklyn bridge, and you walk across. Above the cars, and the river and with the wind as a guide, you make it to the top and in bated breath, wait. Wait and watch and soak up the Hudson river like the bread of a gyro that you’ll eat for lunch, and wash it down with American Tune by Simon and Garfunkel.

And I dreamed I was flying, and high up above my eyes could clearly see

The statue of liberty, sailing away to sea, and I dreamed I was flying.  

And finally you’ll start to feel the light even before you see it.  Realizing the sun didn’t actually forget about you, you stand up there for a while feeling invincible; until the world begins to wake back up, so you’ll walk back home.  The light of day uncovers things you didn’t notice were there, like the color of the sidewalk, or the dark circles under your eyes that you catch a glimpse of in the passing car window.  You forgot how many dogs there are to pet, and how many cars can fit in the street at any given time. You forgot about the flowers that adorn every window on the block of brownstones, the green that squeezes its way into every nook and cranny.  And how hot it starts to be as the sun jumps to the highest point in the sky and then proceeds to do a somersault falling back to the ground. You forgot about how many bright skirts and color could adorn the gray. And so you walk quickly until the colors become a blur, because that way you won’t forget.

finding comfort in nostalgia

If you know me, you know that I’m quite a nostalgic person. In my free time I might get distracted and spend hours reading through my old journals dating back almost 10 years. I look through boxes of dusty photographs my parents took of my brothers and I; old trips to Disneyland, play dates in the park, and my favorite: parading through the streets on Halloween in hand-made costumes. I even collect rubber stamps like my grammy used to, paper dolls, records, and own two film cameras. All that is to say I find pleasure in looking back.

I realize that it is a privilege to look back, and see a carefree childhood. Not everyone has this positive experience. To me, however, nostalgia has been restorative and has helped me feel more rooted in myself.

I think nostalgia can come in any form. To me it often comes in the form of smell and touch. It’s the feeling of rhythmically rifling through a box of photos, the glossy paper swishing against each picture. Nostalgia is the smell of cedar that takes me back on a summer bike ride, singing and laughing as we rode through the grove of trees. Or it’s the faint scent of a wood fire like a lazy summer day in hills of northern California at my grammy and poppop’s, and their old shed.

It can even come in the form of reuse: being given a hand-me-down item of clothing, or an object that someone no longer has space (physically, emotionally) for. Often times family members such as my grandparents, will gift me with objects they used in the past, such as clothing, fabric, etc.

Nostalgia allows me to look back at myself as if through a reflection, then look forward at who I want to be, and see the same feelings, emotions, cycles. The same soul carrying me through life.

I often feel nostalgic not only towards my past self but when I’m outside, admiring the beauty of the earth- the trees, the grass, the sky, things that have been admired with awe from the beginning of time, to this very moment.

Dedicated to Ruth Peterson, my grammy