“It’s crowded. What are these people staring at?” she said standing on one of the horizontal telephone poles that marked the line of demarcation between the asphalt and the sand. “There’s nothing to see.”
“They’re here for the sunset,” he said.
“It’s a cloud,” she said, “There’s nothing to see.”
“It’s like Key West,” he said standing next to her looking out at the scene before him.
“This is not Key West.” She said, sick of the sand, the people, and the cloud that was blocking her vision of the sun.
“No, in Key West the people are piled twenty deep against a fence.”
“Did you hear that man?” my wife asked me, “Piled against the fence. Twenty deep.” She was sitting and kicking the broken shells out of her sandals. My wife and I are taking a belated 25th anniversary trip to Florida and Key West is on our itinerary. We were both close enough to hear their conversation. Of course hearing their conversation wasn’t all that hard to do.
“Yeah, but did you hear her?” I asked looking out at the blazing colors that outlined the ‘cloud’ that the woman was so verbally distraught about. I looked back at where they were standing and they were gone – retreated to a gift shop or, more likely, their car. I was sure she would be bemoaning the fact that there were so many people “staring at nothing” far past her trip to Cape May.
My wife had not heard the woman. They were a middle-aged couple; I suppose they were about our age but as couples we were obviously looking at two completely different sunsets. I felt that I had to look again at the view and see it with eyes that weren’t poisoned by the woman’s freely offered but never asked for opinions. And so I did.
She missed it. She never saw the colors that exploded around the edge of the clouds – the shimmering feathers of light that were painted like bright orange brush strokes against the canvas of the sky. The sparkling reflection of ambient light on the water so close to where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay. She missed the magic – the celebration of another day turning into night. The thing about sunsets is that no two are alike. Each one is different, unique. Each has its own verse of poetry to whisper in your ear. You either appreciate that or you don’t. Sunsets are moments in time and moments are fleeting, they are unique - they are precious.
I thought of the man on their car ride back to wherever it is they were from and whatever their life together has been thus far. “Poor bastard,” I said.
“What?” my wife asked.
“Huh? Oh, nothing,” I said and we returned to the sight before us.