On the evening of November 17, 2021, I stepped onto the pier at Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight. I walked to the covered area at the end, the evenly spaced lights showing the way. Oliver and David returned to the shore and I stayed behind with my camera.
On the English mainland across the Solent, the glimmer of Portsmouth framed the receding dusk. It was a colder night than I expected, and I was underdressed. I lingered in the brisk air seeking something, though beyond a search for photos, I could not grasp what that something was.
Was it the green light from Daisy’s dock that had so captivated Jay Gatsby? Or another beckoning symbol of hope and yearning? When, if ever, does looking forward move from a mere dream to a thing within one’s grasp?
As I paced on the pier, I took in my surroundings: the soft glow of the moon, the lights of the old fortification onshore, the docked ferry to the west, and the lapping of waves against pilings. A seagull screeched, the wind sighed and the sound of metal hitting metal rang from moorage nearby.
I saw a small boat bobbing on the water. I leaned against the railing, watching as it danced across the surface of the sea. Flashlight beams animated the boat’s return to the shore, which suggested the cleanup routine at the end of a fisherman’s day. I was envious of this simplicity, humble and ordinary, rather than my rumination, visions and sensations.
Back in the moment, I returned to Oliver and David for dinner at The George. I took a photograph of the length of the pier. I told David I would visit again soon from my house, then only 43 miles away.
In 2023, I’m suddenly across the world, and I wonder.
Was my time on the pier the dream-come-true?
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