You stand on the waterfront alone, staring at the boats and wondering about the lives of the people who own them. You wonder if your life will be like that someday. Maybe you could be a boat person too. You stare at the water. You watch it, amazed, that during the day, the water is so blue, so clear, so full. And now, at night, it’s so black, black. How did water ever get to be so black? The sky is still a dark blue, maybe not yet wanting to give up the day and become what it really is. Night.
After staring out at what you pretend is the sea, but what really is just a harbor, you turn around and let your breath be taken away. You knew it would happen. It always does. The city at night. The skyline, the buildings, so tall and the lights, so bright. It amazes. It’s so city of it, spread out, all sparkly and shining like that. It catches you off guard even when you look for it.
You stand at the end of that wooden dock, halfway between ocean and city and you first think of Gatsby and that silly green light. The one at the end of Daisy’s dock that made him feel so connected to her while she wasn’t really his. And you think of this green light here, now, at the end of this dock, blinking. And you decide that you will let it be your Gatsby light. The one that will connect you to this city, that may or may not be yours, you aren’t yet sure how you will feel, won’t know until you leave next week. And now you smile while you watch your green light blink and connect you. And when you are done laughing about this light, you stand on that dock and you stare at your city and you pray that you never forget these sights and these sounds and the smells of the water on summer nights like this.
And while you look at the skyline and take as much in as possible, you think about that little brown bird from earlier in the day. By himself, looking for something, so you fed it a crumb and he took it from your hand and flew to the ground. He tried to gather it all in his beak before he flew back to his home, afraid that any crumb he didn’t get would be gone when he came back to this spot. So he pecked and he gathered and you watched. There seems to be a thing between you and the birds now. At least these little, brown ones that hop and keep you company. So he gathers and as he pecks each piece, it breaks into a bunch of smaller pieces. So he tries to fit all those into his baby beak too but because he is only a silly bird, he isn’t realizing that the more he pecks, the more crumbs there are. Finally, he decides he has enough to take home to his little, brown bird family so he flies off. He took in as much as he possibly could before he flew home. You know what this means, of course. And you also know that when the bird came back to that spot a short time later, the rest of those crumbly crumbs, the ones he couldn’t fit into his beak, well, they were still there, right where he left them. So now you know, you can come back to this spot and it can still be yours, if you want it.
You also think, while you stand on this dock, wooden, long and seemingly full of thoughts, that as shiny as the lights of this skyline are, things aren’t as shiny down on the streets, right in the middle. The lights and the buildings and the promise and the way it is all laid out for you, that’s what is really exciting. Not the city itself, not the people, the long, dreary days, the race of it all. And you realize you will have to be happy with this. Maybe the pretty facade is all the good there really is here and you should learn to be okay with that. Once you go away for a bit and come back as someone changed. Maybe when you come back with the person that changed you and you stand on that same dock with your Gatsby light blinking, connecting you, when the sky behind you is blue, and the water is black, black, and the boats are white and you stand there as the new you, and you realize that you were worth all of this change and growth back when you were 23 and scared and alone and lived by the lights of the city. The sparkly lights against the dark blue sky. When you stand there, years on and you see that little, brown bird hopping over, its beak looking for crumbs, maybe then you will see that things are okay now and you can put this notebook away until you need to be reminded, so that you don’t forget how things were. So you can stay humble and grateful. Always stay grateful.
– – Brittany Forbes
Brittany Forbes writes in Canadian, loves in English, and dreams in French. She writes about travels and various other journeys over at Letters To Rayelle.