- passage from "Everyman" by Philip Roth, Vintage International p. 126-7
Sunday, July 25, 2010
barefoot and wet and salty.
"Yet wide as it was, it was still his beach and at the center of the circles in which his mind revolved when he remembered the best of boyhood. But how much time could a man spend remembering the best of his boyhood? What about enjoying the best of old age? Or was the best of old age just that--the longing for the best of boyhood, for the tubular sprout that was then his body and that rode the waves from way out where they began to build, rode them with his arms pointed like an arrowhead and the skinny rest of him following behind like the arrow's shaft, rode them all the way in to where his rib cage scraped against the tiny sharp pebbles and jagged clamshells and pulverized seashells at the edge of the shore and he hustled to his feet and hurriedly turned and went lurching through the low surf until it was knee high and deep enough for him to plunge in and begin swimming madly out to the rising breakers--into the advancing, green Atlantic, rolling unstoppably toward him like the obstinate fact of the future--and, if he was lucky, make it there in time to catch the next big wave and then the next and the next and the next until from the low slant of inland sunlight glittering across the water he knew it was time to go. He ran home barefoot and wet and salty, remembering the mightiness of that immense sea boiling in his own two ears and licking his forearm to taste his skin fresh from the ocean and baked by the sun. Along with the ecstasy of a whole day of being battered silly by the sea, the taste and the smell intoxicated him so that he was driven to the brink of biting down with his teeth to tear out a chunk of himself and savor his fleshy existence."