A rough few weeks and a city settling into spring. A Saturday free of any responsibility and a jump over a low stone wall, a shimmy underneath a hole in a fence where moments before a lifeguard’s truck stood sentry. S and I slipped our way down the side of a cliff to find ourselves on a remote, abandoned beach where twenty years ago a section of houses broke off and fell into the Pacific. There’s not much left now. A few stone foundations. Sections of wall and street. S picking up sea glass and letting the fragments catch the light. Me picking up hermit crabs and remembering the two I had in college, Ender and Volcano. They died within a week of each other and I buried them side by side in emptied out jewelry boxes in a Cambridge backyard.
On our way up and out, we passed a family full of small boys. A half dozen small boys, seemingly multiplying by the minute. A dad drinking a can of Bud in a public park. A mom doling out gentle smacks on the butt every time someone didn’t mind her.
S took my camera bag and I sunk down into the dirt, pulled myself under the fence in a way I meant to be graceful, in a way that was probably clumsy and awkward.
When I stood up, one of the little boys was staring at me. When I smiled, he smiled.
“How you do that?” he asked. He was four or five, maybe.
“When you’re older,” his dad said.
We hopped over the stone wall.
I almost called back to him, the little boy still watching me—don’t worry. I don’t feel older.
But there were so many little boys. All of them in a disorganized bunch. I couldn’t remember which was which.
photographs taken in San Pedro’s Sunken City.