I admit, bad behavior shouldn't be encouraged, but this one has a wrap around porch and the most beautiful view in the world. If your experience of Texas beaches has been south padre or Galveston, mustang island is nothing like it. The dunes and beach area were turned into park and protected, which means development is far behind high tide at the very closest, and in some areas even farther back than that. The dunes are also protected territory. I'd have to look up the exact number of feet, but trust me, when you're driving down the beach, some of the development is as straight as a ruler up to a certain point beyond the dunes. It's not a long walk--I mean, I can see people playing on the beach right now--but it does keep teh beach itself gorgeous and so you don't have to stay at any particular place to get access to the beach. It's for everyone.
A couple of miles down is the bay, where you can see the huge ships come in and out; between houses I can see a massive one leaving now and going out to sea; on the horizon,you can see them in the cloudy distance coming in and going out, along with the occasional yacht, boat, small fishing vessel, and oil rigs in the distance in pale green outlines. Texas made its name in oil and oil is still life here, even now. It's hard to explain if you weren't born here or in an oil-rich state, how much the memory of the oil boom influences us; my family has no less than two petroleum engineers, both of whom went aboard when oil crashed here decades ago, and not always worked in places that were entirely safe or entirely legal. That wasn't unique, by the way; oil families, not just engineers, had to go far afield to get work when there was nothing here left for them. When people talk about the dangers of contractors in Iraq, I wonder if they know about the ten, fifteen years before, where people didn't have the protection of being called a contractor and simply took their chances in Libya and Iraq and did quiet business in Egypt and in the coastal cities of the middle east with only the promise that they'd be pulled out if it was possible, but knowing the chances of possible were very, very low.
I was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen when we head the stories of endless flights into German and Italy and boats taken at night from Malta to cross the Mediterranean. It was exciting then; I was a kid. I traced their routes on giant maps--Austin to LA to Berlin, driving to Italy and flying to Malta for a boat across the water. There were other ways, too. It would be a decade of romantic imagining before I took a class in US policy and woke up half way through the semester for five sentences in a forgettable lecture I don't remember about embargos and diplomatic silence and above it all, oil, oil, oil, how we had to have it and had to get it. I still don't know what happened, but now I know there was a reason they went; they're Texans who worked the rigs of the gulf coast in view of the beaches, pale grey ghosts on the horizon I'd wave at as a kid like they could actually see me standing there.
...to this day I don't know that they ever worked a rig I could see from the beach, but I refuse to believe anything else.
I'm from Texas, a state drenched in the oil boom and still feels the echoes of the crash that wrecked a million lives, even if you didn't work the fields; oil was life. He's the reason when I went abroad, when I got my immunizations updated, I was given hepatitis again, just in case. I wasn't going anywhere it was a danger, but I'm not sure he actually cared about that part. I think he wished someone had told him to get that one, too. He was in the states when I left and when he came back six months after I did, I had a jar of cloudberry jam for him, which was the one thing he couldn't get anywhere and missed.
Walking the beach is all brown-white wet-packed sand from high tide, farther up beige-white and hot to the foot; I'm a country girl by birth and can walk hot tarmac, but nothing, nothing prepares you for sun-heated sand. There's seaweed washed to shore, but not more than what happens every three to five years, and the stretch of beach is filled with covered pavilions clustered like flowers in every color under the sun. Not that anyone stays under them; they're a nod to avoiding the sun when you're going to do anything but. Another giant ship just entered the bay, slow and pendulous and so long it feels like it will never stop, and even there hasn't been a cloud since Thursday.
I'm not sure I ever want to leave.
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