Friday, November 28, 2014

Flagler Drive Revisited

A few weeks back I returned to a path that had always provided solace and mental clarity. A stretch of road on which I've traveled for about 40 years. Unavoidably littered with memories.  Thoughts of all the folks who joined me for dates and/or Life Talks. Drunken stumbles home. Relaxing solitary walks, other times hard runs in all sorts of weather.  Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach is one of the most pleasant few miles you could take in this town, a place described as a "honky tonk wasteland" by Rolling Stone back in the '80s.  I drive on Flagler almost daily, but on a recent brisk evening I slowed down and strolled a good bit of it to confirm a huge decision.  And then to inform someone over the phone of my choice.

No, invisible audience, I can't talk about it. What did you think? It was work related; leave it at that. The point of this entry, aside from actually sharing a bit of my life once in a while, is to highlight how important it is to have that getaway, that place in which to clear one's head and regain one's sanity.  To power down and smell the roses, if you will. It is helpful that my special place is scenic: nice homes on one side and waterway on the other. One castle was already decked out for Christmas, miles of light strands around palm trees. There are always joggers and dog walkers, most ready to return a smile or at least a nod. Lovers on the seawall. Cyclists' headlights cutting through the darkness.  Something so organic about it all.  Like a surfer who surveys the aquatic and aviary life around him while he positions his board for the next set. You have to be there.

One of my 2008 entries for this blog spoke of Flagler Drive, which at that time was within walking distance from my apartment. It's funny to read it now. To reflect upon how much has happened since then.  How little I've changed, or so I think. For the past three years I've lived in a gated condo community further away, one of which I've grown quite fond. My preferred stretch of Flagler is now a bit out of the way and I don't get to it as often.  I frequently work late, otherwise I'm at the gym or busy at home. Or involved in a family-related activity.  Thank God. When I composed the earlier entry I was still single. I would not trade my life now for those days. Yet, I miss the time for those regular walks.  Something so special about it, something so conducive to decision making. I decided to return to school back in '98 while taking in the night air on that stretch. Finalized plans for moves there.  This time, I made another possibly life altering choice...but that remains to be seen.....

P.S. When I finally made that call I had stopped at a sandbar at the southern end of Flagler on the Intracoastal Waterway known to locals as "Summa Beach",  pictured above and named after the street at which it ends on the east side. It is indeed a small beach, with several trees and a bench, itself full of memories.  I just learned that Summa Beach was mentioned in the book Marley & Me. Apparently, the film adaptation decided to shoot at a location in Broward County to the south instead of at the real spot. Curses!

P.P.S.: Readers will recall that the dearly departed Chapel by the Lake (which sat on Flagler Drive) was also a frequent place of refuge for me.  They'll remember that it fell to the wrecking ball late last summer.  As of this writing, the proposed super condo has yet to be built. Right now, a lovely grassy field remains. It's a picture of serenity. Too bad they can't leave it that way and make it a park.

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