To Gulf Island Campgrounds (first letter)

A healthy-looking lesbian couple adjust lycra bicycle shorts while conversing in soft-sounding German. Two eagles circle overhead as faux-Rastas play hacky sack. I’m thinking about the first hill along the way to you and the backpack straps that will dig into my shoulders. I’m thinking about how remarkably relaxed I was the last time I got off the ferry. Can you regain that kind of calm after an extended absence? The goal seems doomed from the start. Expectation negates it.
My last gourmet coffee for a while is emptying. Too many cars disperse from the boat.  It’s over in an instant. The coastline around the dock is redeveloping. The girl at the general store looks older. Everything here seems to be momentary, changing, on the verge of disappearing. This is perhaps one of the most startling of Bourgeois Civilization’s reoccurring nightmares, in part because it is irrefutable. It is, in a most uncomfortable sense, true. The significance and remembrance of the most mundane and spectacular of experiences is confused and displaced. It’s enough to make you neurotic. It’s enough to make you reconsider what it really means to be a sentimental fool.
You are always reminding me of a claim by W. G. Sebald (I first read one of his books on a trip like this one — just before his death by car accident in 2001): “Melancholia, the contemplation of unhappiness as it is occurring, has nothing in common with the desire to die, and at the level of art in particular its function is anything but reactive or reactionary…. The description of unhappiness carries with it the possibility of overcoming that unhappiness.” To join you is to witness an unstoppable passing, and also to hope somehow that this loss or destruction can be surmounted, at least for a little while, by doing so. There can be a sense of time slowing down in being with you or in moving towards you, but this is not reassuring or suggestive of some alternate reality. In actuality, quite the opposite is the case, with one’s attention being drawn with ever more violent and profound force toward an already nagging sense of the end of things.
It can seem as if you reside precariously on the collapsing outer barrier of a global matrix (or perhaps just beyond it) but you are also an accommodation within such a system, a kind of release valve or simulation of radical reform. Maybe you are one of the last places on earth where there might be discernible traces of a now deceased, pre-grid-like existence, or still more likely, the possibility of imagining such a thing. To endure this state, to see it through, must surely promise a kind of peace (virtual or otherwise), a sort of coming-to-terms with the collapse of time and space within modernity, and the finite and rapidly depleting tolerance of this planet to host our cancerous evolutions.
You’re a final repository/resting place for the ongoing and unspoken, colonially-conditioned desires of the underclasses — a want of both autonomy (escape from the division of labor) and ecological integration — an always/already compromised idle retreat for contemporary indentured servants and the imagined peasantry of past Golden Ages. You host people trying to crawl out of their heads, out of language, out of culture, out of the socially necessitated.
More Hollywood holiday homes have blossomed around you since last spring, replete with tennis-courts, surveillance cameras and helicopter pads. They appear occasionally in the distance behind elaborate gates and manicured shrubbery, breaking up an already ad-hoc arrangement of abandoned farms, wooded lots, ill-kept grazing fields, modest prefab trailer homes, lattice-encrusted gardens and D.I.Y. front porches.
I can hear a thousand insects in the few feet around me.  It’s an almost silent riot.
I’ve reached one of you again and sit on a grassy slope by the waterfront. The ocean is busy with speeding vessels and wakes. A fire is lit, the sun is setting, and all around us the world moves in slowly.