The Weeklies: August 4 - 11

Every writer should have a friend like Philippa -- she asks all the right questions. (Questions that even prompt essay-length answers.) Maybe it helps that Philippa is a writer herself, able to see the root of most things and to tap at that one specific nerve.

Saturday afternoon, we were both in the backseat of a Lyft. We'd just returned from a day at Ft. Tilden beach. Our driver was taking us on a highway near the water. We were sharing secrets.

"Do you feel bad about leaving stuff out of your blog?" she asked.

I sighed.

"Yeah, definitely. It's hard. I think one day I'll write about it all," I said.

Yet again, she hit the nerve directly, as if she already knew: I'm stuck. There is an elephant in the room of my life, and I've been writing as if it doesn't exist. Weeklies used to flow out of me like water, but now its a poker game. When I was in my twenties I wrote on Facebook: "All these things will make for good essays in my thirties." I feel the same now in my thirties about my forties. The best stories have to develop, then they have to settle in your mind. The internet now allows us to write and share instantly, but sometimes we need to be patient.

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In short: the beach trip was the only highlight of last week. Philippa had organized a day trip to Ft. Tilden, a little stretch of beach next to Rockaway Beach. You could get there the hard way on the A train, or you can hop on a ferry and pretend you're getting away. We all met on the pier in Manhattan at 11 am. I was wide awake and nervous. I'd managed to lug a Tesco bag of snacks and rosé on the train. When I got out at Wall Street, everyone else was carrying umbrellas and beach chairs, migrating east.

We got seats at a table on the upper deck of the boat and caught up with each other on the ride over. We walked through natural weeds and brush to a concrete path leading directly to the sand. Ft. Tilden is so wild and untouched that poison ivy supposedly grows on the path.

The beach was more crowded than in years past. There is a friendly atmosphere at Ft. Tilden. We ended up in conversations with several of the neighboring blankets, which hardly ever happens. I didn't leave the sand once, the waves seemed too rough. I was fine eating snacks, drinking wine and people watching under the brim of my hat.

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On Sunday I refused to leave the house. I was mildly sunburnt and still tired. I took a long bath and watched television with Alistair occupied himself with woodworking. It was a day that I reserved for writing but none was done. Around six o'clock we went on the stoop for a cocktail. The mosquitos got us.