There are many gated "communities" in Florida; I prefer to call them subdivisions. While they promise privacy, security and exclusiveness, they lack mystery. I can imagine the look of life behind the gates.
The gated recesses in South Beach are more mysterious because they are varied and offer glimpses of lush interior courtyards and statues like this one. I may look at the fountain, the slim girl with an arched back holding a giant bowl into which water flows, a metal bird perched on the rim, but I am not allowed to enter. I can't stereotype the residents, not even to say they like statues of naked women. Some may turn their eyes away.
On Meridian Avenue, someone has left a gate open, and I can enjoy the shadows of the palm trees on the pink stucco wall.
The empty serenity of this interior courtyard draws me in, but just so far. I stand on one side of the iron gate through which I slip my camera.
The man I met on the beach this morning seems to show everything. His face is ghostly as the Aboriginies who paint themselves with white chalky pigment. I asked him if I could take his picture and whether the salve covering his skin was for the cold. I was thinking of those cold water swimmers in the English Channel who smear their bodies with grease. 'No,' he said. 'It's a cream for my skin.' Did he have an affliction? I asked myself. He did not. 'The cream leaves the skin very smooth,' he said. 'Marvelous,' I said, sounding theatrical. But he was a marvel. When he smiled he looked less ghostly. I wished him Happy New Year. Has he shown us everything? No. Just as a penitent with his or her confessor does not tell all, but by little sins indicates more. The ghostly white suggests penitence and or devotion, like the Saduhs' of India, but this is South Beach of prized smooth skin.