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Land of Fog

By Lena K. Felton

HALF MOON BAY, Calif.—In foggy California, time is a very funny thing. There’s diffused light always, so the presence or absence of shadows offers no clues. Dusk feels like morning, 10 a.m. like 4 p.m. I don’t trust that the sky will wax dark or that day will become night, but I’m not fearful either way. Here, I can believe in perpetuity.

In foggy California, the beaches are cold and the ocean colder. We pitch two- and three-person tents and trick ourselves into thinking summer won’t end. Children run around shirtless and goose-bumped. Their parents stoke fire.

Everyone can sense a particular strangeness here—my friends call the campgrounds dreamlike, a twilight zone. There’s nothing to do, we guess, but sit on the beach as the sun sets or rises. An hour passes before someone says that perhaps the sky has turned a little more charcoal.

I could melt into this moment forever. And I do for a while longer. My fingers grow numb; wet sand soaks the parts of me not covered by Tess’s scratchy Navajo print blanket. The boys laugh and the girls shriek and occasionally we all sit in silence.

In these moments of quiet, I think of Cambridge and how its clouds are more oppressive than these. They’re higher up and looming. They make heaven seem like a dark place. Once, alone, I looked out the rain-streaked window of a red line T train racing across the Charles, and I thought of nights in San Francisco when the fog is so thick it falls as drops on windshields. I almost choked up. Night never feels pitch-black in California like it did then.

For now, here at home, I like to breathe in hard so the air stings my nose; I relish everything of my timeless, foggy California. I will try to recreate this scene sometime soon when I’m riding the subway alone. The seven others will do the same, but none of us admits to this out loud.

When the sun presumably sets and I have to start using the flashlight on my iPhone, I crawl into my tent. Later, I wake. I can’t tell what time it is.

Lena K. Felton ’17, a Crimson FM editor, is an English concentrator in Dunster House.

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HighlightSummer Postcards 2014