The zipper on my wool vest had broken while I was unpacking and I had left my gloves in the car but I forced my legs into making the short walk to the water. (Besides, the weather report had said it would be gray and drizzly most of the week with freezing temperatures and a chance of fog so I had better make the best of it.) The beachfront was vacant except for the relentless push of the cold wind so I wandered it on my own, gasping at the first dead fish I encountered, whole except for the eyes which were as dry as the Texas grass, sockets as carved out as I felt. The sand was brown and coarse, a thin strip I walked despite its uninviting countenance. A herd of tree stumps littered the strip of weeds that comprised the next stratum along the beachside, bleached driftwood that resembled heads of longhorn cattle. The site had patio tables and chairs upturned on their faces, abandoned by the last renters who had statued them into their final configurations before winter’s strong lake breeze had claimed them, and I was working hard not to take everything as a "sign." (It was the winter of our discontent, indeed, Richard. Indeed.)
“THOUSANDS of hopefuls. TEN finalists, but only ONE will get their own show. SOMEONE’s life is about to change!” the commercial screamed before showing the promo: an Oprah project, a rip-off of The Apprentice. My stomach turned; the TV on as background, its sound, my weak companion. (I had promised myself I had come to this remote location to avoid the television that was partly responsible for making me sick, but I couldn't shake the isolation and abject quiet I had experienced while unpacking and walking the locale without seeing or speaking to another human, although I saw many RV’ers around me.) I had even tried for an embarrassingly short spell to read and/or write down by the water's edge, which had plenty of sittable and inviting boulders, and I did get to see one dazzling patch of sunlight flash across the lake but I left after that last hurrah before sunset because my fingers were too frozen to hold the pencil or to turn pages.
Where was I to go and what was I to do to begin to feel better? I wasn't hungry or thirsty. I was tired, but only of the tedium. The San Antonio theatre scene had had 21 roles posted for males and only 2 age-specific roles for females within the last auditioning month (so much for liberal casting). My job was a dead-end energy void. My husband and I were at a standstill and my teenaged son and I had hit a brickwall, or as one friend phrased it so perfectly: “There is nothing more selfish on earth than a sixteen year old.” I had caught him in a lie and it had betrayed me as deep as I go. We'd had a blowout late Wednesday night when I was determined that something, ANY thing would jar him from his idyllic existence. So this city girl is hunkered in an off-season campsite, starting at zero without even a grocery in sight twenty miles in either direction, settling for a gas station where I was forced to buy a pint of skim for $3.00.
At what age are you too old to “go home”? Never too old, I guess, if your parents are a good petri dish upon which you could launch a healthy comeback. Well, let's just say that Mother's Milk I ain't got, and here I am with nowhere else to go. . .
“This place RUNS on scandal and skin, heart-breaking homicides and I should know. My own mother was one of them! Dead women obsess me. Murdered women haunt me. Welcome to my wickedly wonderful show. . .” the attention-starved host threatens from the television screen, a crutch I wish I could kick while knowing that—at the end of Day One—I am surrounded by a pitch blackness that only a desolate place can provide. Black, black, blackness.
This is what I had asked for and I had had to pay good money to get it. Regardless, it was going to be a long, lonely night--and I had better shut off the channel's programming or be freaked out the rest of my stay by every bump and the crush of footsteps passing the cabin outside, imagining everything from werewolves with opposable thumbs that could turn doorknobs (Wolfen) to cannibalistic Texan farm owners who liked to wear their victims chainsawed off faces as skin masks. Shoot, at least, I had my own INDOOR restroom.