When I go back, I visit a store that sells hand-painted driftwood signs. There are periwinkle and eggshell striped pillows on found art benches that cost the same as a taxi to NYC. A woman in a linen set smiles at me and then says something to a shopper about seeing Billy Joel that morning.
Here, Billy walks around the hardware store in a torn shirt holding an ashtray. I want to be able to walk around the stores of Sag Harbor with an ashtray, but I don’t smoke. Once though, I put rum and coke in a water bottle and went to the ice cream parlor that my grandfather took me to before he stopped walking.
I wonder if Billy, like me, has the coordinates to this place inked between his third and fourth rib. I wonder if, for Billy, the ink leaked everywhere.
The women in the little tourist shop have stopped talking about him now and the place feels like people who “summer” and eat out of hand-blown cereal bowls. I point at the Sag Harbor coordinate sign above the register and tell the woman what I’ve done.
She smiles. “Are you from here?”
“Not really,” I say. Her head cocks to the side.
I don’t explain how I moved eight times before I turned eleven but Sag Harbor didn’t. That my family always stayed at the only hotel, the one that smells like vintage photographs, in the same rooms for two weeks every August since I was seven. That my sister and I would hang our feet off of the concrete pier at the end of Main Street and stare at docked yachts. Soft overheads on decks that blinked lavender and azure, a hundred floating spas lighting up the night. There were never any people on them.
“Oh?” she asks. Fine lines bow around her mouth.
“Just loved coming here as a kid.” I say.
She nods, unconvinced, and I can tell I’ve lost something, so I buy a candle that’s called sea glass and leave.
Later, back in my hotel room thinking about the woman’s rippled skin, I throw open Google and find the needled numbers on a map. That spot where my ink meets boned skin is none other than the convenience store parking lot by the bridge. All empty plastic bags filled with air.
It doesn’t matter though because, over time, those coordinates will shift, and that little tourist shop will become a condo and Billy Joel won’t smoke outside his home and my ink’ll get sucked up in lymph nodes and fatty tissue and the hotel will sink under the Long Island Sound. One day, my chest will be Sag Harbor and I’ll remember my skin sloughing off into the hotel bath. Flecks of white and blacked toner slipping through wrinkled fingers as I try to catch the shreds.
Salena Casha’s work has appeared in over fifty publications in the last decade. Her most recent work has appeared in trampset, Bending Genres, Scrawl Place, and Rejection Letters. She survives New England winters on good beer and black coffee.