From Monterey





Dear Kate,

You know, you can take your toe, and draw a line in the sand, and you can dare whoever you damn well please to step over it. You can be as strong, and as willful, and as smart, and as beautiful as anything that ever walked this December beach. But in spite of your best efforts, in spite of your skillful designs, and in spite of your better judgement, there's a salty ocean wave who never even notices as she wipes the best of your intentions out into that gray ocean.

-Monney, Virginia Beach




Dear Ellen,

Yes, that's the magic of the abandoned. You want questions. Questions about the people. But you know, if the truth be told, I'm not nearly so interested in the people as in the things the people leave behind.

I walk through a cold yard of dead Tennessee grass, but no one has mowed or tended this yard in a good while. In the upstairs there are two rusted bed frames and some marbles. A closet with rusted hangers and a decaying Time magazine. A side porch that will be gone the next time we pass by here.

I stand in a foundation that's all that's left of a springhouse. I hope no one ever disturbs it and it can dissolve into the Tennessee dirt all by itself.

-Monterey, Route 27 - Roane County, Tennessee




Dear Adele,

It's no different than every other time. I walk down to the water's edge with every intention of going in. I sneak up on a receding wave and dip a bare foot into the water. The sensation takes my breath away, though not quite enough to distract me from watching the Atlantic Ocean dance over and around my feet. "Maybe it's too cold to go in today," I laugh to myself as the second thoughts take over. But then, without being aware that I'm moving, I notice my legs walking - neither fast nor slow - into ever-deeper water, waves surprising more and more of me until, without even thinking about it, I dive head-first into a wave. All my reservations, all my hesitation, and all my misgivings are washed clean from my body.

It's no different than every other time.

-Katherine, Virginia Beach, Virginia




Dear Ellen,

I keep my ear to the ground. My nose to the wheel. My eyes on the prize. My finger in the wind. Or maybe my finger is on the pulse of something, I can't remember. But I know I'm onto something here. Something big's about to happen. Something important. This time tomorrow, everything in world will be different. Or maybe it's this time next week. Or maybe not everything, but a bunch of things. You mark my words, sometime soon, something will be different. I'm almost sure of it.