Friday, March 7, 2014

Things We Share

Wondrous simplicity, this complicated life of ours.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


In Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, protagonist Ms. Lily Bart, a twenty-nine year old whose beauty is just beginning to wilt, poses in a tableaux vivant depicting Joshua Reynolds' Mrs. Lloyd. She stands stalk-still in front of the society she so wishes to be a part of in a living recreation of the allegorical portrait. The mode of art was said to allow artists to "portray women in roles outside their normally restricted occupations, as well as to take the attributes of the Goddess or other figure represented." (Royal Academy)

Edith Wharton was shrewd to pluck an allegorical portrait from the bouquet of her subconscious. According to the Royal Academy (of which Reynolds was the first president), "allegory flattered the status of the upper classes, [though] it could be used to present images of women like actresses, who were less favored by wealth or breeding, and help to make them socially acceptable." Lily herself desired all those things, and was a chameleon on the many sets of New York society drawing rooms.

Lily lives beyond her means; she plays cards on Sundays; she courts wealth and bets little on love. So much has changed since the publishing of her story in 1905: women's suffrage, civil rights, the Feminist movement, WWII. Life in America in 2014 would be unrecognizable to Lily, though that's not to say that all taboos have disappeared completely. They've simply taken on other forms and names and faces.

One thing that has not since changed is our fascination with beauty. Wharton, herself a not a comely woman, went to lengths to portray Lily's attractiveness and the ways which it functioned in high societies. When Lily depletes her reserves in New York (both monetarily and in terms of feminine kindness), she flees to Europe to galavant with a fashionable set. They are taken by her looks and charm, and she does wonderfully, that is, until her chaperone--a married woman--tires of her antics. Lily fails to barter for a proper husband. She fails to craft a mind that would function like the setting of a diamond ring, requisite only to uphold the illusion of appearances.
The beauty of her character is this great failure. Lily cannot sell her soul, even after a decade of trying. She dies alone in a boarding house, the gaunt facets of her face at rest in what might just as well have been the depth of a mine. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

You Must Relax

"Whatever we believe, whatever we think, whatever we attempt, we die--so why live in fear? Fear is blasphemous; through fear the coward argues with God."
-Joanna Scott


Friday, November 15, 2013


Two and a half years ago I packed four dresses and a bottle of contact solution in rolling suitcase and closed the door on my worldly possessions. I left behind a bonsai tree that had moved ten times with me, a personal library just a few years old, at least three Jason Jones paintings (worth millions of hand-rolled cigarettes and Confederate dollars), and a massive hundred-year-old armoire purchased from a crying woman in New Jersey. All of it stayed behind. I fled the penthouse in Clinton Hill and the alcoholic roommate who screamed, and fell, and slurred, and hit in the middle of the afternoon. I left behind solitude and independence as I saw it then.

I was lucky to have a boyfriend who could coerce a buddy into packing my entire room a few days later. Unannounced and unchaperoned, they reentered the apartment midday to funnel the souvenirs of my life thus far into boxes and bags before stowing them in a nearby Brooklyn storage unit. We thought the cargo might sit for a few weeks or months at most before I unearthed it all and laid it out in some other clean and bright apartment, but it never happened that way. The boxes just sat there, collecting dust and memories for nearly three years like a short-term time capsule. Every few months I’d trek from upper Manhattan to Brooklyn, often by train, and swap out boots for sandals, or to slide a few extra records into the thickening columns of things.

I bought cedar rings for the hangers still in use, broke open a few boxes to find notebooks and files for a brief affair with grad school, but for the most part, my life remained as divided as the boxes. The longer they sat there, the further I felt from the person who had, even without being there, filled them. I had been a Brooklyn girl then, a daily bike rider, library visitor, typewriter owner and idealist, a young and hopeful what? What was I then? All I know is that I was different. I was sweet and small and young—there, that word again. I was inexperienced and full of belief—in potential, in the future, in my conviction that things, though tough, would improve. I was working a terrible job writing pop drivel, I needed directions to 10th and 36th, and naive enough to belief a complete stranger who didn’t seem to work or eat might not be terrible to live with.

Last weekend I finally emptied out the storage unit, bringing a Suburban full of boxes and antique furniture from one borough to the next. For the first time in five years, I was moving into an apartment actually designed to house as many people as would inhabit it. I unpacked clothing into a closet that was mine alone and attached to a bedroom. I found a mint green vase my mother had gotten in India or Japan or maybe California. A lamp made from the bust of a lion now sits on a dresser in a room that has four solid walls. And there are books, dozens of books, that will one day line the shelves that will frame the picture windows in the living room. I have a living room.

I cried when I opened the second box of books of happiness and surprise and lament. There was Sharon Salzberg’s Loving-Kindness, Frank O’Hara, Robert Lowell, Dad’s ancient copy of Catcher in the Rye and Mom’s Hemmingway. There were books of poetry I hadn’t yet cracked, tomes on Buddhism, journals with spines that belied their ages. There were all the thoughts that had been cut off mid-sentence. In their places, I’d had to start new novels, write new stories, invent a new history. But when faced with the remnants, seeing those books categorized like they’d been on my closet shelves, it was as though time was being presented to me as a gift. The past sat there, waiting for me to rediscover it and pick up the thread I had thought had been lost. How these two halves will sew together I do not know.

Last night I sat at the same desk I’d had throughout college, where I’ve written embarrassing half-truths and green misconceptions. Hopefully it is the place where I will manage to reflect an iota of the beauty and goodness in the world beyond its edges. It is there I found the small beaten and black Moleskin notebook I’d purchased just before moving to New York. It is filled with directions to sites of appointments long past, with sketches of things like a Higan cherry tree, with pressed leaves and book and song titles I’ve seldom followed up on. On one page half of the way through, I scribbled the following. I remember the morning, early on a weekend when the streets were mine alone. I had passed a restaurant kitchen and the singing of the cooks. It was quiet and warm and still. 

A discarded antique mirror—and what of the reflections?

How surreal to find the past leaned against a light post.

Friday, November 1, 2013

just friends

They met on a street
or at a party, two quiet types
drawn like water to the edges.

Rife with potential
energy, friction, heat,
stored and available,

they waited, stoic,
cognizant of their kineticism,
or rather, of the prospect of their soft human forms
pouring into a single vessel,
churning, bubbling, boiling over
with love and lust and biological impulses,
not so different, actually,
in its lyricism,
from a Duchamp mobile.

But winds freeze,
despite the warmth of the sun in June.
Leaves drop and rot
and for a few cool nights
protest by crunching underfoot
before succumbing to the numbness of slow decomposition.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

soothsayer // fruit purveyor

I once met a man selling fruit
who could tell of the future.

He said I was sensitive
while I stood there on the corner of 9th Avenue
holding a plum.

"Has anyone ever told you that?" he asked.

"You need to be with someone not from here."

Not from where? This cavernous iron plastic
or of this world which could, and does,
fit in the pit of a plum?

I did end up smiling
once he peered into the vessel
that holds all these tears,
where upturned lips float.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Fourth Wave

It had been so hot that day we returned to the hotel at four to partake in the sort of relaxation a century ago could have included tea or iced lemonade made from pressed citrus and slivers of shaved ice block. When we reentered the streets before dusk the humidity had settled and faint breezes passed through the narrow alleyways once crossed by carriages. We were carried on to South Street, passing murals of mirror and stone, window boxes inset with thin glass so delicate the panes looked to be made of sugar. Relics of Philadelphia's past, two-hundred-year-old town homes quickly gave way to project homes, their bricks newer, their faces unadorned.

Three blocks west of 12th Street, Philadelphia's old world charm vanishes. The humbly low skyline of the city seems to smother the sidewalk which, on the 4th, was crowded with idling men and children. It was growing late, and with the encroaching darkness, my tensions rose. That stretch of the city, so close to a symphony hall, to Starbucks, and the Victorian garden, felt dangerous, desperate. It reminded me of Crown Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn I'd experimented with for six months in 2011. For that long I lived absolutely within my means: the proportion of my income spent on rent did not exceed 50% percent. I shopped locally, relied on no one for financial buttressing.  

Within weeks I felt terribly uncomfortable. I'd first visited the apartment on Crown Avenue on the hottest day of the summer. Temperatures reached 100 degrees and few people were on the street, which seemed nice enough. I was intrigued by the fact that to the east, the neighborhood was entirely Hasidic. To the west, it was populated by a mélange of Caribbean immigrants. It was undeniably fascinating. Cultures clanked and crashed into one another, customs mingled, accents flew across the subway platform like dissonant flight patterns.

But by night it was not so cheery. I would walk home in the dark, often on roads with missing street lamps, always covered with trash. Swift, I'd think, move swiftly and keep your head down, but look tough. If anyone tries to fuck with you, shoot them down with your eyes. I took to wearing a faux leather bomber.

Days before Christmas the Eastern European man who ran the laundromat attached to our building was shot, and died. I grieved his death; I was traumatized. My roommate had left him minutes before he was attacked in what police described as a hold-up. They killed him for less than forty dollars.

When I left the apartment in January, it was with sick relief. My experiment with poverty was over. I fled to Manhattan, to Harlem, to move in with my boyfriend and his roommate, a friend of ours already. I threw most of my belongings in storage--books, a fox-trimmed coat, paintings. I had had the option of escape the whole time. Those young men I'd often see on the streets in Indian Summer doing nothing of great importance, waiting for breezes, for hours to pass, don't have the same chance. 

In Philly, the scene was similar. So many young men idled on the street. (I didn't see many young women out there, just waiting.) There were scant signs of industry in the city as a whole. There were plenty of restaurants and bars, chains mostly, and familiar-looking clothing stores, but you didn't get the impression there was any place to really go. We passed through the sprawling campus of Temple University, which I marveled at for its size; LaSalle is there, Drexel, Penn; but what is there to do once you've graduated? All of the friends I have who attended school in Philadelphia moved on to some other city. And what about the 19-year-olds who don't attend college, either because they can't or won't? What is there for them, in any city?

We walked north, up towards the Rocky steps and the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the fireworks. On the way, we passed two hipster-looking mustachioed men who leaned with apathy from the front door of a bar. Their shirts were the colors of sweat and dust. The Alpha's mustache was tipped with blue dye. In one glance he broadcast his disdain--with me, with the establishment, with the reality of life in the year two thousand and thirteen?

What is this life we're supposed to share, this American dream? Does it include a $100 thousand gourmet kitchen, even if we can't afford to pay our teachers well? Does it rely on a standard of living incongruent with our savings? Is the world--let alone our country--divided, more clearly than ever, into the haves and the have-nots? Do the have-nots always know of their situation? Do the haves care? Does Washington know where this next generation will go? How they will eat, survive, or care for their young who are already here, being yelled at by a cigarette-smoking father who swears to his three miniatures who still brim with enthusiasm and love to move the fuck over?

The fireworks began at 10:30, following a performance by Ne-Yo. The MC for the night took no pause to introduce what would be the capstone of the night which we celebrate each year to commemorate our freedoms and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That most cherished symbol of liberty went unmentioned. We watched, standing under the inky sky as it lit up before us, some invisible hand sketching mandalas and patterns whose meanings were lost upon us.

A wave of sound hit us from behind, and we turned to see a rush of stunned people running exactly towards us. Dozens of terror-stricken faces and pumping limbs grew larger. In that stunned moment as I tried to understand what was happening, I threw the rest of my pineapple towards the open trashcan. Amidst chaos, I sought order. Rory and I grabbed each others hand and turned to run. I heard someone say what I was already fearing. "It's a bomb."

We moved northwest with the crowd, running without letting go of each other. I saw two policemen stop momentarily at a street sign, the one in front pausing to lean his body against it as he peered in the direction of the explosion of energy that was at this point, only human force. He and his partner were slack-jawed and scared. But their ears were not pressed to radios with orders to evacuate. They did not panic, and neither did I.

By this point, we were two hundred yards from where we had stood. Bystanders streamed away from the epicenter, many visibly shaken. Some were on cell phones, recounting their experiences to recipients who must have ranked in their lives as Emergency Contacts. One young girl next to me held tears back as she told whoever it was on the phone that she thought it was a gun. Behind us, three teens, visibly drunk or stoned, yelled as they walked, "We gotta gun! We're all gunna die!" The crowd at that point knew to spread out, but ignore.

Cops were stationed along the closed streets, none yelling orders. Lights flashed blue and red, silent. We streamed along with the thousands through the downtown streets closed to cars. We pedestrians were enough to clog the wide, new alleys. Under the overhang of some metal and glass office building, a white-haired hippy played an electric violin, "The Star-Spangled Banner" eerily detonating from his speaker. It felt exactly like a scene in some terrible apocalyptic movie I'd purposefully avoid.

We kept checking the maps on our phones, unaccustomed to the streets, willing our way back to Chinatown. There was no way of telling who knew and who did not. Rory checked his phone incessantly, awaiting an AP update. None came.

We were swept into the stream of human bodies moving south. Under the florescent streetlights, it all looked grotesque. All I wanted was the safety and silence of my rented room, but all I could see was the endless stretch of asphalt to cross, corners to round. A group of drunk teenagers shared the sidewalk with us for blocks, so close for so long I had to pretend not to hear their conversations. They were high-schoolers, maybe, still high on the liberty of a Thursday night out. How many of them had been part of the stampede, had knocked knees or grabbed hands? Or did they at all? They didn't seem shaken. Maybe because, like someone had said, this happens every year. Maybe it happened at home, or at school all the time. Maybe this is just the 3D reality of 2013.  


Friday, June 7, 2013


“I look like a POW.” She did. She wore her father’s twenty-year old drab olive tee that had shrunk over the decades to the point that it now just about fit her 5’4” frame. It sagged, pooling at her sides with sleeves a touch too long. She wore twenty dollar jeans with Swiss-cheese holes and ragged white and unintentional fringes. This season, she paired the ensemble with two-year old white canvas slide-on sneakers, soiled past the point careless-chic, and made, undoubtedly, for pennies in the Far East.

Minutes, nearly an hour passed without much of note happening.

“This peach looks like a universe.”

“How do you mean?” she asked herself. “How do you know what a universe looks like? Don’t you mean solar system?”

“Perhaps I do. But the slope of its side, the way it melts from yellow to orange then red and purple, the way it’s flecked with minuscule golden dots like stars or distant galactic smears, that’s what I mean. Do you know exactly what a universe looks like?”

No. We don’t.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Time Bomb

Charles Simic, poet and genius, wrote a piece on aging for the New York Review of Books called "Looking It in the Face". Until days before his 50th birthday, he'd forgotten to feel old; or rather, the notion hadn't ever occurred to him. It's strange, because just last night I was thinking about time--how heavy and important it is, how monumental because it is so fleeting. 

"I go and squint at my face in the bathroom mirror and don’t like what I see," he says of waking at four o'clock in the morning after hours of tumultuous near-sleep. How strange not to recognize oneself in the mirror, to feel so different than the vessel we inhabit. But when does the inevitable morph into the actual? At the sight of the first pronounced wrinkle, jowl, or gray hair? Or does it happen so gradually that quick glances can't register the enormity of our mortality? I imagine it's the latter. The last time I saw my mother ride a bicycle, her helmet sliding over her small forehead and at an angle, I laughed.
                                      "You look like a child," I said.
                                      "We all are," she answered.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time Warp

I escaped from New York two weeks ago to the quiet of Virginia and slipped back into a world and pattern not so different from the one I left a decade ago. The trees still stood in their places, a little thicker and taller. I'd forgotten some of the road names, but never the routes. Right at Shore Drive still led to the ocean, 7-11 still trusted its patrons enough to leave the Slurpee machine unattended, its swirls of sugary ice so perfectly watery I drank two in a single week. You could wave three times in a parking lot to strangers who held doors, nodded in the heat, or smiled. It was like stepping foot on a set that hadn't cleared once the heavy velvet curtain dropped its weight. My lines came back slowly, the role revised with the alacrity of a method actor who smells smoke for the first time in months, in pangs, with pressure and lightness all the same.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


fills me like a vessel


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Relativity of Wealth

I'm not rich.

In fact, I'm teetering quite close to broke these days. I've started selling vintage clothes not just to make room in my overstuffed closet, but to add some bulk to my bank account. I don't eat out, strategize the purchase of my $109 MetroCard, and carry a water bottle to avoid dolling out a dollar every time my vacuoles cry for rehydration. Last week, I left a bag of spinach in the work refrigerator and ate from it for the three days I was in the office.

Wealth is relative, though. Just a few months ago I was working as an editor, dutifully setting aside funds for a 401K and still complaining about a lack of cash flow. I ordered steak kebabs, salmon, or sushi five days a week and thought nothing of stopping at Uniqlo for an oversized caftan on my way home.

This year, my tax return went straight to The New School as a down payment for next year's classes. Those funds, numbers on a screen or printed on paper, transferred from somewhere else to somewhere again. I never felt their weight; just passed them along.

Yesterday evening I rode to Chelsea in the mist for a few errands and found myself on the hush of petal-strewn 18th Street, home to one of my favorite thrift shops. I browsed through antique end tables, day-dreamed about adding a Lucite bamboo chair to some future writing corner, and poked at the books. (One thing I haven't been able to give up is the purchase of books. And what better place to find them than at a thrift store? Often, the spines haven't been cracked, and you're always certain to pay four times less than what you'd find even at Strand.) I caved at the sight of Anna Karenina translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky--the same pair who unraveled a collection of Tolstoy's short stories that has since changed my life. (Side note to the side note: I never paid much attention to translators until I read this last collection. I was at Barnes & Noble armed with a gift card trying to understand why two copies of the same paperback might vary so greatly in price. I only had to read half a paragraph The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories to understand: Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation captured the lightness and poetry of Tolstoy's work; the other translators' work felt labored and heavy. They might as well have been two different books.) Sure, the cover of this $6 Tolstoy depicts a close cropping of two knees bent which at a certain angle looks like an ass but it's a small price to pay for such a fine story.

There was also a teapot, one I thought might replace the small blue and white one I'd found in my freshman year of college. It had been perfectly small and unassuming with a simplicity of line that always reminded me of Japan. It lasted through the inevitable moves of college, into my first experiment with cohabitation, and on to New York. Finally, one of its cups ruined in a round of parlor games, its lip chipped and handle long-missing, I sent the set to rest. Ever since, I've missed it and the simple domesticity and order it represented. Converse to many other 20-somethings, my living situation has evolved into something less independent and more temporary as I've gotten older. At 18, I lived in a two-story loft all my own. At 24, I shared a bathroom with a stripper on the floor of a Brooklyn brownstone. Now, I live with two men and keep most of my possessions in a storage unit one borough away.  

This teapot was made in Japan of terracotta and glazed in a blue that looks like hundreds of tiny cracks and fragments, like the retraction of a wave on some russet-colored beach. It has two small cups that are free of chips or scratches. Its metal handle is wrapped with what looks like a vine. I played with its arrangement on the dusty shelf of Housing Works, tried to imagine taking it home. In the past, I've always searched in Chinatown for such a pot. There's one place, a huge supermarket with a basement full of utensils and ceramic that I check, hoping I might find something as simple as my old blue and white one. There rarely is. Usually, the teapots they have come in sets, packaged in black cardboard boxes with interiors the same color as the flowers stamped across the mugs. Every now and then there's one that's quite lovely, though it comes with price tag of around $30. That's a lot of money to pay for a thing you don't have space for. That's when I walk away, always a little sad. It's not that I want the thing so badly; for some reason I picture myself in Wisconsin, an older me living a life somewhere that's not New York but surrounded by its remnants. If I don't buy a teapot--or if a tourist forgets to haggle on Canal Street for an I Love NY tee--it's not as though our memories will fade, or that we'll have nothing to prove our experiences. I think it has to do with collecting little pebbles in colors you don't see at home. Over the decades, those pebbles form mounds, and those mounds take the shape of walls and ceilings and floors. We live in the spaces hollowed out by memory, each pebble a little piece of our past.

I bought the teapot, which the clerk wrapped in paper and slipped into an I Love NY bag along with two new books. Petals fell from the trees and as I crossed to 8th, I couldn't help but feel content. There I was, a young person in spring, free to fill her mind with stories about artists and saints, to drink tea made from ocean waves. It felt like being a bird who in the midst of weaving a nest of jute and saplings, braids turquoise string into a tiny opening.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Love Song and Ashes

A recording of Fritz Reiner and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony No. 7 in A (Op. 92) Allegro conbrio plays quietly on repeat. Our characters lean against a Formica kitchencounter as they blow smoke out of a first story window.
JACQUE: Where did you find that thing, anyway?
FRANNY: What, the record? It was his.
JACQUE: I thought you said you found it at the library.
FRANNY: Then why did you ask?

Jacque ashes his hand-rolled cigarette, though nothing falls. He blows over it and the end glows orange, the same color as the setting sun.
JACQUE: We should really be outside.
FRANNY: Let’s go to the front.

Franny picks up a milk glass ashtray as they pass through the living room, leaving the door to her apartment open. At the building’s limestone entryway, the two characters take their spots as if regulars, each with his back to the street, leaning against the iron banister. Nothing is said until their cigarettes are finished.
FRANNY: Shall we?

They settle into the living room, Franny on the edge of the couch while Jacque plays with a magazine left on the edge of the mantle.
FRANNY: I just don’t like talking about him and, it’s easier not to mention him at all than to go into detail. Or to try and avoid details. You know what I’m trying to say.
JACQUE: Sure.Yeah, but…

The girl turns her head quickly without saying a thing. Jacque can see her but does no tmake eye contact.

JACQUE: You know, it will probably help if you talk about it. To let it go.
FRANNY: I don’t have to try and let go. I’m not holding on to anything. He’s not part of my life anymore, so there’s no reason to even mention him. It might as well have never happened.
JACQUE: Then why do you play this record so often?
FRANNY: I like it! And it’s absurd to think that just because he got me that record that the song is somehow his, seeing how it existed probably for two hundred years before he was born and will go on to exist long after he’s made his grand exit from this play. Besides, if I were not to play it just because it reminded me of him, even though I love the song, that would mean remembering him more! It’d be the worst type of homage. There’s no way I’m giving anything up for him. Not now and not ever again.

JACQUE :What ever happened? You never really told me.
Jacque turns fully away from the mantle.

FRANNY: We were like this song; in the beginning perfectly in sync. We charged ahead, sure of ourselves and of our love, until one day: battle, a striking of chords.We clashed with the same intensity and passion that nurtured our love. I thought we had become a single unit. I failed to give credit to the single instruments on my side of the orchestra. My doubts went home on the bus, their secret instruments that cried with love stored away neatly in black beaten boxes.They opened cans of soup, took showers in tubs that were decades old and dingy white no matter how many times you bleached them. My doubts had newspapers to read, as did my dreams that didn’t picture him. My aspirations and plans to travel and what-if commentators all went home after the song had been rehearsed to death. The only time they quieted was during the rehearsal of that song. For a few years I, we were happy to rehearse; that was enough. But one day, I walked into the auditorium that he and I shared and realized that we’d only been rehearsing. There would be no performance because the song wasn’t ours to play. We were just memorizing someone else’s.
JACQUE: So, the love was the song?
FRANNY: And that’s why I love it so much; because it isn’t mine.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

yesterday's lunchbreak

A few things while I sit here at the foot of a waterfall, surrounded by blossoming cherry trees and daffodils:
Perhaps we need parameters to give contrast to "meaning." I worked a rather horrid job, the hours noon to ten p.m., for two years. The room was purposefully dark, four TV screens blared incessantly, however I could leave to couch paradigm-shifting, strange encounters in between those work days.

Once, I attended a great lesson the Dalai Lama gave at Radio City Music Hall (where I sat behind a row of Flax-clad ladies, possibly Boreum Hill or Woodstock residents who cooed and crossed themselves like groupies. One woman leered at her companion for taking a digital photo--only to do the same once an hour had passed).

Another time, I left at 6 p.m. to make a pilgrimage to The Plaza in order to interview a well-known hairdresser. A celebrity fashion-type, someone I'd just read about that morning, sat in his chair. Both she and I had climbed marble steps with red velvet carpets in order to make our meeting. When I returned to the office--both times--no one had known of my journeys. I carried them with me like delicate little trinkets, golden bangles hidden beneath the rough sleeve of a woolen sweater.

Here, in the presence of a waterfall on 51st Street, a high number of visitors play with their phones, content, I suppose, with their glances at the budding flora, with the sound of water crashing.