10:17:25 pm on
Sunday 14 Jul 2024

Last Day on the Vineyard
AJ Robinson

In the movie Logan’s Run, Last Day is an important time. It is the thirtieth birthday certain people, in the city, anxiously anticipate. On Last Day, they go to Carousel. It’s the day they renew themselves; the day when they are reborn; well, supposedly. Recently, I took a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the east coast of Massachusetts, and was reborn.

A solo journey.

Yet, I also faced my Last Day, my last full day on the island. I made the trip on my own, Jo Ann and Antonio, my wife and foster son, electing to stay at our campsite, which was best. I had some issues to deal with.

The bus dropped me off between Oak Bluffs Harbor and Sunset Lake. I walked around to the edge of the Campgrounds. There I came upon something surprising; Craig’s old cottage was for sale.

Of course, his family hasn’t owned it in years. Still, it was still a hoot to walk around the cottage; to recall the fun shared there. I had a pleasant chat with the realtor that was running the open house. She, of course, knew my brother, Steve. Listening to her talk to the people that came to look at the place made me smile. She sounded a lot like Steve.

Then a somber moment struck me. I paid my respects at the Merrill place. It was locked and boarded-up, but I knelt at the door as I remembered dear Mrs Merrill.

Walking around the porch, of the Merrill place, memories swirled within me: the boat on the side porch, the clothesline by the back door, and the stones in the narrow garden that they used to decorate. The Merrills used to put a group of tiny figures on one stone; they looked like mountain climbers.

Days of yore.

I opened the small door by the steps that gave access to the lumber storage bin. It was where Mr Merrill kept the wood for his carvings. It was dusty and dirty and covered in cobwebs, but all I saw were those wonderful chains he used to carve. I don’t suppose he carves much anymore.

I moved on, strolling through the area. I stopped at “The Ark,” the cottage of our old friends the Firestones, as I wanted to leave a gift for Marina, the mother. She is one of the oldest friends of my mother. Marina had left on an early ferry with her son; I gave her daughter a copy of my anthology of stories about Martha’s Vineyard. I hope she enjoys them.

As I walked along Circuit Ave, a growing train of specters began to accompany me. A young Dailis Merrill and I checked out the comic books at the Wigwam Paper Store; now a real estate office. Reed MacDuff was at the Arcade Soda Shop to share an ice cream with us, even though the place has long since changed to Sharky’s Cantina. Jimmy Virtue joined us for a movie at the Island Theater, although the current building, abandoned and condemned, stands eerily alone; then his brother Eddy went with us to Town Beach to jump from the jetty. I was saddened to see the beach nearly gone due to erosion and climate change. Finally, good ole Lisa Dawley laughed and smiled as we rode the Flying Horses to try to catch the brass ring; it’s one of the few unchanged constants of the island.

It was then time for me to return to my own era, my own life. I had to bid my old friends a sad goodbye. Walking toward the bus stop, I caught a whiff of the pizzas cooking at Giordano’s, the bell at the Flying Horses rang out and I saw a few kites flying in Ocean Park.

I long to return.

That is truly the way to leave the island. I bathed in the sensations that make Martha’s Vineyard so special and unique. I shall miss it and long for the day of my next return.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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