ALBION BEACH... - Michael James

The “Beach House” was my bachelor pad on the edge of the earth, a secluded hideaway crib with a close-to-nature vibe. In the early 80's I lived in this space, situated near the end of the Loyola Avenue alley at the edge of the Great Lake Michigan overlooking Albion Street Beach—now officially called Hartigan Beach.

The window in the dining area framed sunsets straight west down the alley behind Loyola Avenue. The other windows—kitchenette, living room, and bath—looked directly north, across Hartigan Park, Albion Street beach, the east end of Albion and the Lake. These large windows offered a near-ninety-degree view of the Great Lake Michigan, a slice of aqua pie.

Through those windows I observed people and nature: the shifting colors of the landscape, the hues and shades of the sky and lake, motions of the waves, patterns and flow of the ice, the cop on the Loyola University beat religiously giving out parking tickets, people playing (and making out) in the park, on the beach, and in the water.

During the heat of the summer an older couple arrived each morning to swim from the beach to the pier and back. They inspired me to begin swimming that same route, often passing them going or coming.

The Lake was an open expanse seasonally dotted with sailboats and motorboats, the rare windsurfer, a canoe or kayak now and then. Occasionally I spotted something unique: a pick up truck that didn’t belong, stuck in the sand; a commercial fishing boat, boats repairing the sea wall or a freighter. Once on a very frigid, still, and quiet night I tracked a lone freighter far out on the horizon, way beyond the ice, its distant dim shimmer moving slowly south toward Gary, gradually disappearing from view.

Sometimes I entertained and partied in my little Beach House, but I also took refuge and rested up there. I worked on and nurtured myself with cooking, reading, writing, and stretching. From this solo living space I readied myself for things to come, dreaming, imagining, and making big plans, some more realistic than others. From this tiny spot on the edge of the earth I ventured out into the World, seeking adventures and trying to make Mother Earth a better place.








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