I walk the beach at night. I walk the beach for miles, and lose track of the sand I’ve traversed. I walk the beach barefoot, trudging through the loose dunes, or listening to the soft shush of my feet barely dragged on the wet packed tide-way. I walk the beach and tangle my toes with the seaweed. I am looking for treasure.
I avoid the beach in the day. I am not a daylight person, anyway. I am a night thing, but without an owl’s ears to guide me, without a cat’s sight to see by. I stay up into the wee hours. I like to be about in the dark.
In part, I just like places that stay open late, place where I can keep the oddest hours. It’s not about partying, or going out drinking. I don’t do those things often. They are not once-a-week things, but once-in-a-few-months things. Instead, I simply like the night. There’s a stillness that is not quiet. You can hear a place better at night. When all the noise and rush of shouted conversation, the shrieks of glee and surprise and horror, the murmur of social obligations die away, you can curl up cat-like at the throat of a city and listen instead to its pulse. You can meander out to the shore and feel it thrum instead of roar.
And that’s why I walk the beach at night: not so much to hide from all that happens in the day, but to seek out what I can only find by moonlight. The sound of the surf by itself. The sea turtles, hatching, and turning away from the city’s blackout dark in their season. The length of the Atlantic and Florida laid side by side like lovers. The remains of sand castles, untended. These are the treasures I hope to discover.
When I write, I write in the thick of the crowd, in the center of the rush, amid cacophony. When I think… I walk the beach alone at night.
It’s been a quiet night, and I feel rich.