Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

April 9, 2004. On a sand dune at Jockey Ridge.

Lying on a sand dune in the sun, eyes shut, sand drifting across my bare shins and buzzing as it hits the sleeves of my windbreaker. Silence but for the wind and the sand, then voices of people climbing the dune, calling each other, laughing. The sand is almost warm in the early April air. Lying there, thinking of nothing at all, existing only in the present with nothing but the soft sensation of breeze and blowing sand. Reality is suspended for a moment, there is simply being, and the light coming through my eyelids.

Then I rise from the sand, shake it off my legs, wipe it out of my eyes, feel it gritty in my teeth. Survey the desert world around me and put my kite in the air. Flying the kite is a form of mediation. Keeping it in the air takes constant attention, subtle motion, and considerable force. Gentle pull on the right and it spins off that way, strong pull on the left and itís over and back. Both hands in and it shoots straight up, out and it drops again, left and itís over and diving for the dunes, left again and itís aiming for the sun again. Lines out horizontal and it takes constant force to hold it back, sitting in the sand and bracing on my heels. After a while itís just a sway of the body, left, right, lean back into a gust, relax when the kite is high in the sky. The sun is moving, Iíve been at this for a long time. Out of the corner of my eye I see a couple climbing the dune watching. I turn to look for a moment and lost my concentration. The kite crashes and we all laugh.

I decide I want to photograph my kite in the air, so I approach a man with two boys and ask if heíd like to fly mine so I can take pictures. To my surprise he points to the youngest, who couldnít have been more than five, and tells me Kevinís the only one who could fly my kite. Sure enough, I hold the kite and this tiny child sends it speeding into the sky while his considerably older brother glares in annoyance and his grandpa holds his waist so he doesnít skid across the dune with the kite. Way to go, Kevin! Later I offered his brother a chance to fly my kite, but he declined Ė he was too frustrated to even try. Itís hard when your baby brother, little twerp, can do things in a snap that you canít get no matter how much you work at it.

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