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17. Coney Island

A group of us went to Coney Island in mid-winter because it was a friend’s birthday and he thought it would be super rad to go to the beach. Well, there wasn’t any snow or anything because the winter has been really mild. So mild that some people are convinced this is really just an extended spring or a crazy fall sans pretty foliage. Anyway, we all rode the subway a frustratingly long way because Coney Island seems to be far away from everything, unless you live there, or in like Bay Ridge or, you know, that lower part of Brooklyn. We met up around eight p.m at the big Nathan’s that’s really famous and scarfed down hotdogs and burgers and lemonade and pretended that it was really July and we had our swimsuits on under our wool coats. We talked about Raven’s Revenge although most people didn’t really know what it was and how awesome it was to be a child. We watched music videos on someone’s computer and lingered around Nathan’s much longer than we needed to because we were unsure of what to do next.

But then it started getting late. And people started getting anxious and were saying things like “Let’s get this show on the road” and “Let’s find somewhere to get a drink” and “I’ve really gotta piss.”

So we tried to satiate all of those needs. We took the show somewhere else but unfortunately we were the only show happening in Coney Island that night. The Coney Island museum was closed, so we couldn’t drink and we looked across Stillwell avenue and saw a couple bars with neon signs and burly-I-give-no-fucks men and decided that maybe we gave too many fucks to even be caught dead in there so we journeyed aimlessly. Not before long, people started getting cold. Didn’t wear enough layers or something. Talked about how nice it was in the day and didn’t concern themselves with the temperatures that plummet in the night.

“Where are we going exactly,” someone yelled.

“To the beach,” exclaimed the birthday boy.

And we went.

The moon hung low in the sky and someone suggested that if we jumped high enough we might be able to catch it. So we struggled and jumped and laughed at how stupid we were for being so naive and laughed because it was easier to laugh than accept the fact none of us would ever touch the moon. We poked around an empty Luna Park. Someone brought up that movie The Warriors about the gangs in New York City. We could have been a gang, maybe. But we didn’t have the strength or the badassness or the weapons to back us up. So we poked around dark corners, clustered in groups, sometimes shaking in our boots at the prospect of a crazed person jumping out from the shadows and then shanking us.

The amusement park was so big and quiet. Like the toys of an overgrown child that rest when the child rests. And it was amazing to see all of those shapes, the drops, the motionlessness.

We made it to the boardwalk and it looked like a postcard of the moon and the ocean and a boardwalk. And even though it looked like a postcard, like something someone else had already seen and recreated, we were mesmerized by it. So we stopped and considered ourselves and considered how beautiful it was to see the waves lap at the shores and how yellow the moon was. And we weren’t at all bothered by the fact that we had entered a platitude. Platitude or not, it was beguiling.

The birthday boy challenged everyone to run to the ocean. The brave, the ones not concerned with the cold, ran like children and it was funny seeing them run like that. They zig-zagged around the sand, and those of us who stayed on the boardwalk, could clearly see them smiling even though their faces were obscured by the night. And after running long enough, they were enveloped by the night.

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