The Amazon Trail

By Lee Lynch

Fort Stage Park

Fort Stage Park


The Last Holiday


Why are we celebrating the obligation to toil most of our lives? Seriously, why is Labor Day an American holiday? Is it an excuse for one last blowout before – before what?

I’m tempted to research the origins of Labor Day, though I have no doubt that I learned all about it back in fourth grade. It’s never made sense to me to get a day off to celebrate work. Of course it’s never made sense to me that we have to expend so much of our energy to make money so we can spend money on such things as celebrating something with which most of us have a love/hate relationship: our jobs.

Even as a kid, Labor Day was no picnic for me. My parents might travel from Queens to see family in Boston, and we might fill a carload or two with parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. In the trunks would be coolers of iced liquids, sun tan lotion, towels, pails, shovels, diapers, beach balls, inflatable swimming gear, flippers, masks, snorkels, lawn chairs, and the rest of the paraphernalia required to have a few hours of fun, in our case, at sunny Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The ocean always turned out to be too cold for swimming, and the site was too windy for sunning, but there were some climbing rocks and a small playground, an ice cream stand and, for me, activities to help me forget I had to go back to dreaded school.

Today, I live in a seaside tourist town. Here, we celebrate Labor Day for a unique reason: the tourists go home. In season we can barely break into the thick traveling traffic to leave the house. Once headed toward town, the out of state and inland drivers are completely bonkers. It’s like bumper cars in an amusement park. They speed through congested areas, dodge in front of other cars to gain an inch, text and smoke with their windows open, rev diesel engines, and cause collisions off and on all day. I know: I have a police scanner. There is something desperate in these visitors who come at the end of summer.

I understand. I dreaded every day I ever worked. That’s no way to spend one’s existence, but given that my life’s work is writing (and much needed gay-centric writing at that), leaving my home to earn money made me furious. Work was nothing to celebrate, but retirement is! Finally I am free to write my little heart out. But, oh, how hard it is to watch my sweetheart rejoin the labor market.

It’s been a treat having her at home with me, in the next room while I write, beside me when I take a break, and spending time together whenever we want. We walk on the beaches weekdays when they’re empty. We go for rides to explore back roads. We’ve had time to travel a bit of America. My sweetheart unpacked almost all of our too many household goods, arranged the furniture, filled the cabinets, hung the pictures while I finished up at my job and wrote. And she’s been perfectly content being a homemaker.

But she’ll need to retire someday, and our plans are bigger than our wallets. She’s been applying for jobs and getting interviews, networking and disseminating resumes. I try to help with my 30 odd years of experience as a vocational counselor. After all, I lured her out West.

My sweetheart looks like a power femme all dressed up for the job hunt. She charms and impresses interviewers. Yet small town hiring is kind of quirky. Everyone who is already working knows everybody from high school or church or the bowling club. When openings come up, it’s usually someone with deep roots in the community who is hired. My sweetheart in many instances clearly has more to offer an employer than some fledgling, but the known quantity may seem the safer bet or the hiring manager may have some tie that binds. There are not a whole lot of employers here, especially understaffed employers. Worse, maturity is not the selling point it should be.

Fortunately, we have lots of support through the hunt. When our friend HML saw a picture of my sweetheart all gussied up, HML joshed her about the dressy little purse she carries to interviews and promptly named it Beulah. Now my sweetheart never has to attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting, drop off resumes, or endure interviews alone. She has Beulah with her.

Maybe we’ll go to a secret local beach for a picnic on Labor Day to create good magic. The water will be too cold to swim and the winds too strong to sun. The tourists will be racing back to work after partying with desperation. Beulah can stay home to guard the resumes. She likes her job.


Copyright Lee Lynch 2014




An American Queer cover 3 14 Lee Lynch’s most recent novels, The Raid and Beggar of Love, are published by Bold Strokes Books. She is the namesake and first recipient of The Lee Lynch Classic Award for The Swashbuckler.  She’s been honored with the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award, the Alice B. Reader Award, induction into the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, the James Duggins Mid-Career Award, and, for Beggar of Love, the Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews.

19 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”

  1. 1 Carol September 1, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Great blog, Lee.
    Here in Michigan, we have a few annual north and south travel events. Memorial day, unofficial start of summer, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, unofficial end of summer.
    The boats and jet skis are towed north in May, and they’re all trailered south in September.
    Tourists and Michigan residents converge on the main highways like migrating birds, toward lakefront cabins to enjoy a few days of escape from hectic lives.
    I’ve made this trek several times, and each time I’m sitting in bumper to bumper stop and go traffic, smelling the automobile exhaust, and worrying if my car will overheat, I remind myself of the previous relaxing forty-eight hours.

    Enjoy your precious retirement and sweetheart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 3 Ann Aptaker September 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Wonderful blog. But as I understand it, Labor Day honors workers, not just work. But yeah, I can certainy identify with the tourist issue. By next week, here in New York City, we’ll actually be able to walk down the street without suddenly hitting a roadblock of tourists walking 5 or 6 abreast and blocking the street…at least until the Holidays 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 5 Sheri Campbell September 1, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Hi Lee, as always your blogs are the most entertaining and down to earth describing LIFE. I could relate to the tourist comments from living in a lake resort community. Week-Enders trying to fill every minute with “fun”. The FUN does not stop after Labor Day, Texas still is hot/warm through October.I completely understand the explanation related to finding work/job in a small community regardless of abilities, experience or age. I believe it’s only a little better in the city. “Who You KNOW” seems the higher qualification. Thank you for this refreshing blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 7 jstjohn1 September 1, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Lee, you nailed the beach-bound traffic scene! Hard to believe that people will endanger their lives and ours to gain one car length in an endless stream of cars & RV’s on an endless stretch of 2-lane roadway. I’ve been thankful for the numbers of the visiting hordes this year–it means the economy is a little better and more people can afford a tank of gas to get to the coast for the day or the weekend! Will hold a good thought for the job situation–and forward any leads! Enjoy the relative peace about to arrive at the coast! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 8 Lee Lynch September 2, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      Leads are VERY welcome, J! I completely agree with you about the nearly suicidal behavior on the roads. Not to mention the 2 pleasure boats sunk the past several days and the beach tragedy.


  5. 9 S.A. September 1, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Fun blog as always, Lee! Wishing your sweetie well on the job hunt, and hope you both are able to find some Labor Day peace on that secret local beach. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 11 Connie September 1, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Entertaining & full of knowledge–wish we were there to walk the beaches with you two. Thanks for always giving us a wonderful Amazon Trail to read, I’m sure everyone looks forward to the empowerment you give. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 13 Anita Bradshaw September 1, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Many thanks, Lee. A great read as always. And what a small world it is sometimes. My great-aunt lived for years in Gloucester, Massachusetts. As a kid I went to Fort Stage Park and went for what was one of the coldest and shortest swims I have ever had. My brother and I dove off a rock into the water and in one movement turned and came back up on the rock. My Dad captured the whole thing in a home movie. Crazy cold! Thanks, again for the column. Looking forward to the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 16 Devlyn September 2, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    Lee, as always I enjoyed your thoughts and a look into your childhood. Thanks for sharing. We too celebrate Labor Day here in Australia and I too have always wondered why?

    Liked by 1 person

  1. 1 The Haps | Women and Words Trackback on September 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM
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