Cold Tomato Soup From The Can

New Land Jack Haggerty Of My Trouble I’ll Tell You Without Much Delight

Getting Used To My New Home
Padre Island
Oct 21, ’70

I walked over to see the four dudes camped by the fishing pier. They weren’t very friendly, but they did sympathize with my living conditions. My shelter of a torn plastic tarp, about a half-mile down the beach, wasn’t getting the job done, so I was invited to move into one of the abandoned shelters available in the area. I still wanted to be alone, but self-preservation took over as I accepted their offer. Being isolated on the beach meant that every time you took a walk, or went to refill your water jug, your campsite was open to scavengers (it only took one dishonest person). Among the people living on the beach there was an unwritten agreement, “I look after your stuff, you look after mine.”

My new campsite was now located under an old piece of abandoned commercial slide. I have no idea how the fiberglass piece of slide got on the beach, but it made a good roof. I was a stones throw from the four dude’s campsite, so I walked over and they offered me wine and smoke dope. As we sat around the campfire, I found out these guys were mostly from Texas and they had come to the island to get away from it all. For the most part, they had a permanent campsite, but they occasionally strayed to find work in Corpus. One of the guys had a part time job at Jeetos, the little store back on the paved road, about a mile away. The owner paid him with food instead of money. After we got pretty wasted on wine and weed, we decided to walk to the store and buy a candy bar. On the way back, I left the fellows, and walked out to the fishing pier. When I reached the end
of the pier, the view of the ocean in the fading twilight made for a
memorable moment. I made the moment last as long as possible.

I found the boys shooting up acid back at camp. I wished them well, and went to my slide to crash. The noise coming from their camp didn’t bother me, but the man-eating mosquitoes did. My only defense against these blood-sucking vampires was to cover up with my sleeping bag, but then I began to bake. I finally said, “Fuck this,” and moved closer to the ocean. At the water’s edge, there was enough wind to cut the mosquito population to almost nothing. I had gotten past the noise, the mosquitoes, and the heat, but the thing that did me in was the sand in my sleeping bag. It stuck to my sweaty skin like sandpaper. I knew I would have to do something about my sleeping arrangements come morning.

I was up with the sun. I had survived a hellish night. The rising
sun turned the entire ocean radiant silver. Breathing in the salty
air, I couldn’t refuse the sun’s invitation. I ran down to the beach
and dove headfirst into the plummeting surf. Playing in the Gulf of Mexico waves, I knew I had arrived; it was all worth it.

Beach life was a simple life. It was reading, walking, or visiting
the fishing pier. I would go to the pier at least three times a day.
Sometimes I would find myself perched at the end of the pier for
hours. At night, I would go to Jeetos and get a candy bar, pop, or
ice cream bar. The place became my link with reality; it was where I went to find out about the outside world. If walking to Jeetos and having sex were in competition, most of the time I wouldn’t know which to choose.

I met Jim and Collin on a sun filled beach morning. They were from Nova Scotia, touring the USA in their VW bus. I was already swimming when the two of them came to join me. The surf was really large and everybody had a great time. They told me that they really liked this beach and wanted to take advantage of it. They planned to stay for a couple more days. After our swim, it was time to return to camp for breakfast.

The tomato soup I ate wasn’t bad, but you had to be hungry before you could enjoy eating cold tomato soup from the can. I didn’t have the proper utensils to keep the sand out of my food, so I had just about given up eating cooked food. Reading was next on the agenda and I must admit; I was beginning to enjoy Nietzsche. I think I had also remedied my sleeping situation. If you stay close to the ocean, the wind coming off the top of the waves, keeps the mosquitoes away.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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