We'll Always Have Today, 1970

Snapshots in Prose - We'll Always Have Today, 1970One Sunday in late June, I used twenty-five dollars of my college loan money to impress Maddy. I rented a 1965 turquoise Mustang from Hertz. Cool—and not yet a classic. Since I needed to drive a station wagon for deliveries, I had a driver’s license, unusual for a teenager in the city, especially for someone who could never afford a car.

Now, instead of spending over an hour standing in hot, crowded subway cars headed to Far Rockaway Beach, the Irish Riviera of Queens, we went to Montauk on the tip of Long Island. There was no subway connection between Montauk and Manhattan, so going there became a vacation, an adventure.

We played. Giggling, she covered my legs with sand while I lay on my stomach. And when I stood up, I carried her into the ocean. The water was very cold, and she hugged my neck and pleaded with me. But I kept walking. Cold water was not going to stop me. I wanted her to know that I was fearless.

When the water was up to my chest, I stopped, and we held each other and gently rose and fell with the waves. When her legs tightened around me, I felt strong and confident, and I loved her very much.

At the end of the day, we lay on Maddy’s old bedspread with our faces inches apart. When the day became gray and windy, the sand blew against us. We pulled the sides of the bedspread up over ourselves, and we became children playing under a table covered with a sheet.

Inside our special world, we told each other secrets, things we’d never say to another person. We made embarrassing confessions, because we wanted to share everything. We wanted to be vulnerable and trusting, and I never felt so safe.

“You have beautiful eyes, Jamie.”

“Yours are beautiful. Golden beautiful.”

“I love yours.”

“They’re yours.”

“Always?”

“Always.”

“I know. I just like to hear you say it.”

“It’s getting late, Maddy.” I felt the blowing wind against my back and heard the sharp tapping of sand against the cooler. Behind Maddy, I held the ends of the bedspread together.

“We may become a sailboat if we don’t leave soon.”

“I’m so happy here.”

“We’ll always have today. We’ll always have Montauk.”

“My boyfriend’s a poet.”

“That’s from Casablanca. I changed ‘Paris’ to ‘Montauk.’”

“I never saw it.”

“Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman that she has to leave him for the fight against fascism, but they’ll always have the memory of loving each other in Paris. They’ll always have Paris.”

“My boyfriend’s very romantic, too.”

“You make me romantic.” Maddy didn’t say anything for a while.

“I would never leave you, Jamie. You could never make me leave you.”

“I never would. Never. But this is our Paris.”

“And so are Central Park and my hallway and… .”

“You’re the poet, Maddy.” She always made me happy. Suddenly she pushed the bedspread away, sat up, and looked at the ocean. She didn’t say anything, and I knew to wait.

“Someday, we’ll go to the other one…the one on the other side, and I’ll wear my red beret every day for my blue-eyed boyfriend.”

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