Temporary Suburbia

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The three of them walked to the edge of the pier. At the base of the path he’d noticed how the noon sunlight cast such an unimaginably solid and bright set of shadows underneath onto the sand and the pylons below. The moment — again he’d consider it some form of an eclipse — and the place needed a name. Under the boardwalk? It needed a better name, and there wasn’t a lull in the conversation — mainly between these two friends from high school — to make some form of a casual observation about that light.

The friend who lived in New York mentioned she had been interviewing in Los Angeles. That made so much sense, actually, even though she’d just signed a new lease on a single one-bedroom a block and a half from her current apartment — and he was surprised he hadn’t ever considered it so obvious where she might move. She was flying there all of the time anyways because it was where her nieces — who were four or five and maybe eighteen months — lived.

In his mind it now had a wall card, floating somewhere, or maybe tacked up to the base of the railing with its framing resembling driftwood, weather worn into grooves. The last time he’d walked with these two women had been at a museum, in the winter, about thirty months ago, and they’d had lunch on the upper floor and then he’d walked much more slowly through the exhibit, to the zenith in which everyone else left to go to other social engagements and he was still there with his notebook looking at the seams and taking notes two hours later. The imagined wall card was untitled but it sure felt like something he’d never seen or really noticed before. Was there a difference?

He wasn’t slowing down so much this time, with the walking. Just slightly. He was trying to keep up, at least in pace, certainly not conversationally.

The wood was lighter at the edge of the pier, just in front of where the sinking and upturning cement ship held all those birds. He could see that too, through the chain link fence, and thought about how like with the light below, here was evidence above of patterns of movement, a gradient abstracted. No space in the conversation for that, either. So he just kept listening, and they walked further back and up along the pathways next to the ocean and a poem of older couples sat in pairs of folding chairs outside of their recreational vehicles they had towed from probably tens or hundreds of miles away, silently reading next to each other. Usually one person was reading and the other was just sitting. In the sun. There were dogs. And that pattern rhymed with itself all along the parking spaces all along the sea wall. A temporary suburbia. 

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