The water lapped over my feet as I sat in the shallow surf, the sand acting as a welcoming cold blanket to hold the heavy weight of my sodden body. I was focused on watching the summer sun shimmer over the watery horizon, ascending to spend a day in the big blue eternal.
I happened to be only a stone’s throw from the rest of the gang back behind me, who were content rummaging in the post-apocalyptic coliseum-like landscape of an old concrete water tank. It was half demolished, half drained and half open to the elements but it still contained a small pool of still water, resting peacefully in the centre. It provided ample dry space to camp in overnight as we burnt wooden flotsam and jetsam to keep warm. We would watch entranced as the flames licked dry the wood, as they curled high into the air, as pieces of free floating ember drifted out over the water. Occasionally the concrete couldn’t handle the heat and a bit of rock or ‘crete would crack and shoot off like an errant lost firework. It was peaceful and it was beautiful.
We were cut off from the rest of the town by a train hill, had to enter this ruined landscape by a long concrete tunnel bored right through. It was a visual rite of passage as we lugged our crates of beer through it and pocketed the bags of mary for later use, all the while watching out for puddles or malformed bricks to trip us up.
Only by sitting in the shell of the constructed past could we engage with our present, stars twinkling in their heavenly domain above, resplendent in their peaceful beauty. I am pretty sure that anyone who saw us would not think the same, of our matted hair and corduroy. Throwbacks to the 90’s. We completed the scene with empty cans and deep laughs, of guitars and harmonicas played deep into the night.
They say now that the ground is leveled, cleaned and scraped back. Houses to be built by their dozen, a luxurious bolt hole for the wealthy. The landscape of a decomposing industrial wasteland has been deconstructed and reconfigured to fit the needs of an expanding people. Water tanks turned inside out and re-shod with wood and tiles, distorted bricks re-cast for the foundations. The sofas we used to burn now litter the beach in their full splendor.
But still, when the wind blows right, the scent of mary and the sea can still be smelt, a reminder of a time long past.