This must be the place

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It is 11:16 a.m. on Wednesday. Sitting in the lobby of the Dunes Inn & Suites in Tybee Island, GA, I can finally recover and write this review, seeing as the Wi-Fi is only good in the lobby and not in the motel room (# 132 ) at the rear of the property.

I woke up not knowing where I was for a while, which usually happens once in a while when you’re on the road. You wake up to this unfamiliar space of seashell sheets and booming cable TV from the corner of your bedroom at $ 57 a night. Half-drunk beer bottle on the nightstand. Take-out containers of this delicious burger and potato salad on the table nearby.

The sun is out and is entering the room. It’s fine in the morning, but what time is it? The smell of cigarettes on your clothes and in your hair. I don’t smoke, but everyone did that I sat down with in bars last night, this latest vestige apparently of smoking indoors in public places, especially in terms of nightly libations (the latest call is at 3 a.m.).

Currently, I’m on my way to Florida to host a music festival. Quite possibly the final melodic boogie of its size on (at least) the east coast until spring. Several large-scale acts. Thousands of spectators. Take the microphone and turn people on to the live music again, right?

Whenever I’m near Tybee Island, I pass through. It is not necessarily out of necessity. More so, this magnetic urge to, maybe, come back to a place that resides in the back of my mind, in the depths of my memory. Even so, it is the holiday season. The air is fresh. The beaches are emptying. No one really around. But, I am drawn to the forces of the universe, whether known or unknown.

As I cruise along US 80 East to Tybee, I see the sign to the right in the middle of the bright lights: The Quarter Bar & Grill. It’s already past 9 p.m. and I know very well that it will be difficult to find a meal elsewhere if I don’t stop to order a cheeseburger and potato salad to go. Go down to the bar counter. Place an order for food. Order a Budweiser. Check out the college basketball game on the TV above me. Chat with the locals – all smoking and drinking, all talking about the craziness of the now over summer.

I can see my signature still there in black marker on the wall, with the years 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016 and (from that night) 2021 on it. In 2007, when I was 22 and in my final year of college in Connecticut, my two best buddies and I (Brett and Dan, whose names are also still on the wall) hit the road. from New England to Tybee for spring break.

We pitched my parents’ vacation home for a week – lying on the beach all day, running around bars all night. Hunt the girls. Drink beers. Take photos. Sunburns and sun. Memories for life. Organized chaos. We were young adults and the world was our oyster.

I remember signing this wall for the first time 14 years ago and wondering if or when I would ever come back and post another year under my name. Fourteen years later, here I am, still here.

Since then: the endless miles traveled, the many loves found and lost, the trucks driven and scrapped, all the wonderful (and mysterious) people, places and things, the idea of ​​nothing and everything (and everything which is in between). Everything is so overwhelming and incredibly beautiful at the same time.

Pay the bill and check in at Motel Dunes. Eat the burger and the potato salad. Take a shower. Cool off in an effort to, well, get to town – looking for a strong drink and warm conversation. No need to go down this lost highway if you are not going to make new friends or new experiences. Dear. What is the good of not participating in life as it happens in real time?

Walk a few blocks to Doc’s Bar. Tybee town center. The exact last place I had a cold beer and hung out with good people before the nationwide shutdown in March 2020. I was heading to Florida to spend a week with my parents. We stopped at Tybee for the good old days, for sheer love of the place.

At that time, my native New York was already closed. My house in North Carolina closed a few days ago. I found myself in Tybee with the rest of the country and our new normal quickly drew closer to me. Everything is getting dark and uncertain in the rearview mirror. The conversation around Doc’s that night was about Georgia shutting down the next day. The mood in the bar was, “Let’s go, who knows when we can start over? Truth, my brothers and sisters.

By the time I entered Florida the next afternoon, St. Augustine had just imposed its closure and restrictions. So much has changed since that night at Doc’s. For me, for every soul on this planet. Every day is a new, unknown landscape, at least for the moment. And yet, I remain optimistic.

It was so ironic that Doc’s was closed right upon my return for the first time since March 2020. Off season and looming winter means the early hours. Just as I was about to return to the motel, I heard the ocean waves crashing into the nearby beach. I wandered to the shore and disappeared into the darkness, away from the streetlights. Looked up at the night sky and the luminous constellations. Surrealist. Prodigious.

So much gratitude for this existence in this universe, hell or high tide. Leave the beach, head to a nearby dive bar. The Café Rose des Vents. Order a cold domestic beer. Sip with enthusiasm. And I think of everyone who reads this (or doesn’t read this) on a night by the ocean of cold sand and hopeful hearts.

Life is good, grab it, all of you.


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