It’s 7pm. The Easter sun is glowing, above the roof tops, and slowing falling like the Miles Davis’ trumpet, from ‘Kind of Blue’. Seagulls fly over. I can hear their lasting cries, as my bedroom window, to my left, where I write, is cracked up about an inch. The western breeze, off the Thames River, cools my arms and face, as I sit in my white t-shirt listening to the cacophony outside and the jazz inside. This ‘Edventure’ is an Awakening. As symbolic as Easter is to most, this holiday has ‘resurrected’ my need to write, again.
Since my last post, in Maine, I’ve moved to Groton, CT: to a three-story tenement building, living on the third floor, in a three bedroom apartment (3-3-3). Even with moving all of my stuff, going up and down three flights of stairs, there are some benefits. Living in a “hideout,” within the tree-tops, offers a sliver of the river and the sunsets, for starters; and, a false sense of security thinking no one can spy on you. The other is…to be determined (TBD)—(sigh).
I wouldn’t have picked this place, but it picked me. I was living in a three bedroom ranch in South Portland before I moved to Connecticut. It had the suburban luxury of a yard and privacy. Now, the neighbors, in the building, and some of the tenants next door, have made this urban place “neighborly,” living on Thames Street. We all share the same cracked driveway, which T-splits to each others parking area; and, there are two basketball nets for us older “kids” to hang-out, and younger kids to play — day and night.
But the most “breathtaking” view is directly across the street: “GENERAL DYNAMICS”, as it’s painted, in bold black letters, on their five-story tall, lime-green, windowless building. And, to top it off, as I look down to their barbed-wire fence, guarding this “green monster,” is their neighborly sign: “DEFENSE PLANT – NO TRESSPASSING – NO PHOTOGRAPHING –Violations May Be Subject To Criminal Prosecution Under The Espionage Laws Title 18 U.S. Code.” And, to make everyone living here feel right-at-home and secure, patrolling this man-made beastly structure, are the unmarked SUVs and camouflage military police, riding back and forth, protecting us from them?
So, we live in harmony, in our half-court backyard: playing basketball, chewing-the-fat, drawing our sidewalk chalk-lines and making a lot of ruckus ‘til midnight. We call this place “home”, for now. All three of us, living in the same building, with our families and kids. Somehow, we watch-each-other’s-backs without fences and signs; however, we do defend our existence with orange-bullet nerf-guns, squirt-guns and a dog-bomb mine-field. However, the only ostentatious “high-life”, we do have in common, is our nice slum-lord. At times, I feel he tries to compete with GD and see how much he can charge for rent without having to take responsibility. When I think about it, sometimes these two are neck-and-neck.
So, New London, one of the oldest cities in Connecticut, is directly across the river. As an outlaw, I chose this side of the border to be closer to my kids living in Rhode Island; and, to be within an ear-shot of Eugene O’Neill’s home town. Surprisingly enough, being Scotch/Irish, I noticed there’s only one true Irish pub — Hanafins on State Street — versus the many years ago. (Why?)
This city has shrunk from its high-traffic seaport days. The history lives like rust. Not many remember what made New London, and the changes that brought America to new heights. From the beginning, New London had the best positioning of ports for merchants and military. Those were the booming days of: privateers, pirates, whaling and merchant ships searching for the American Dream: gold, war, adventure, new countries, treasure, women and luxury.
Now, the museums are…museums, or mausoleums, and…the military, too. (Can you tell the difference?) Where’s the innocent rush for adventure, again, in New London? What vacuum sucked-out the kernel of adventure and manifest in this town? Today, the town is a fading shadow: the denizens are mostly low-budget shopkeepers and invisible locals, going in and out of shops like mice; and, the thin business community tries to get a grip of politics, in one hand, and the dry tourist dollars, in the other. The town, on rainy days, looks sad, and, at times, is. But, this forgotten emptiness turns-on my contrarian intrigue because the stories are not dead, but ALIVE!
I’ve walked these streets and alleyways, and can envision the ghosts of yesteryear. My interest lies, in the turn-of-the-century, when the O’Neill’s had a major influence in the social fabric. Then, New London wasn’t “urbanized” from the wrecking-ball of the1950’s to the 1970’s; it still had the existence of the living wharves. The train brought in people from Boston to New York, and back. The steamship-ferries also gave the pleasure of a water-ride to town. And, the highway was just becoming a burgeoning commodity, as cars began to dominate the roads. This influx and exodus, in generations of souls, made New London rich in history and created its own romantic culture. But, where’s it now?
Tonight, as I begin to see colored pin-hole lights twinkle on the New London shore, the sun slips into twilight, and I desire to explore this “bright” land. “There’s gold in them thar hills”, as they used to say. I believe, by understanding the footprints of Eugene and his significances within his works, I can learn more about how to dig in “my own back yard”, and find those diamonds, as Diamond Jim used to proclaim. This gives me an ‘Edventure’ in my own right. Living here, I can write some “Sketches” and make new stories from the old. There is treasure lying within the old skeletal brick-and-mortar city. I just gotta find it. What a quest!
Now the inky night has arrived, and I unfurl my blue, twin, bed sheet over my window. In my cheap-penthouse of dreams, or “hideout”, I turn-away from the cold outside. In my warm space, with my reading light and computer, I can write the words to take me away to another time; and, Miles helps, slowly blowing his horn, like the New London train in a fog, taking me away to escape and discover these stories.