Monday, August 3, 2009

Ocean City 2009 and back

There is perhaps, nothing in this world so torturous as the Monday after vacation. I totally get the thought that you're supposed to come back to work from vacation feeling rested, ready, and motivated to kick things into high gear. But that's so not me. I'm not saying that vacation makes me want to take an extra sharp letter opener to the jugular of the real world, but ... wait, actually, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

Anyway, vacation was awesome. I was on the beach all day every day for the past eight days. I'm so serious about my beach time, nothing could keep my butt from that beach chair and my toes from that sand. It started to spit one day around 3 p.m. but my mom and I had only been there for four hours so we just wrapped towels around ourselves and stayed for another two hours to make sure we at least came close to our quota. And besides that temporary weather glitch, it was one of the most sunny, beautiful weeks I can remember. And when it's just that good, there's nothing in the world I'd rather do than read a good book on a crowded beach. I won't even walk up to the boardwalk to go to the bathroom at the lifeguard station. That's what the ocean's for, anyway.

For me, the best part of going down the shore is that it's the same thing, every year. The same house. The same front porch. The same old furniture and hodgepodge collection of dishes. The same board games with the family, ice cream shops, and bicycle rides. The same jogs on the boardwalk and shops to browse through on the Avenue. Coronas with lime and crab cakes sandwiches. Perfection.

Some people don't get places like Ocean City. They don't appreciate it for what it is. Some find the boardwalk tacky or the beaches overcrowded. But in my opinion, there was no better place in the world to spend my summers. You're surrounded by people of all kinds. There's those whose children just got back from a week at the elite Main Line junior equestrian camp. The people who drive BMWs and own stock and know the exact numbers in their portfolios at the dinging of the bell every afternoon. And there's those who wear cut off sleeveless shirts and crosses around their necks and look like the type who'd be more than eager to tell the cameraman from the six o'clock news that this is just shocking. Didn't nobody expect it from their neighbor. He was always quiet, but polite.

At night, the talking and laughter spills from front porches onto streets teaming with people walking dogs, licking ice cream cones, and riding bikes. Generations of family members come together. When you're elbow to elbow with your neighbors, when you can hear all of their conversations and get to know which kids belong to which families, it forces a shooby solidarity. We're here. We're on vacation. We're happy. Together. There's no choice but to smile, say hello have a good day, and mean it.

That's why leaving this year -- the last summer I'll be one of the thousands of people from the Philadelphia area enjoying my vacation at the Jersey Shore -- took on a new element of heavy sadness for me. There is no place my family and I are happier. As I pulled out of the parking spot in front of our house in the pouring rain, and waved goodbye to my parents on the porch, staying for one more week, I felt the lump, thick like mashed potatoes, rise in my throat and the stone drop in my stomach. And yes, I cried on the way home from the shore. Like a little kid who doesn't want to wear pants who's forced to wear them anyway and isn't wearing pants the worst?

I was downright depressed the entire ride home. Alone. Listening to every sad song I could find on the radio. AND IIIII-EEEE-IIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUU. NOOOTHING COMPARES, NOTHING COMPARES TO YOUU. HERE I AM, ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE. Whatever, I was in New Jersey.

But as I crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia, with the beautiful skyline and the Hyatt -- where I'll be getting married in less than two months -- to my left, the sun came out. Philadelphia is always breathing, but in the summertime, the city is screaming just to make sure you notice it. And it feels good.

Turning the car on to my street after being accustomed to sandy shores, the green seemed so thick I wanted to throw my arms open and pull it into my chest. It overwhelmed me. It swallowed me whole. And I was home.

And now I'm walking around my office in a daze and watch your back because I have a letter opener and I'm not afraid to use it.


Skippy said...

Sounds like it was a great time. I have family who live in Brigantine, and we visit as often as we can. If the hand starts to clench around the letter opener, close your eyes, and pretend you are on the beach...I would hate for you to have to paint the OC skyline on your cell wall.

Lindsay said...

Yaaaaaaaaaay. You're back!

I know what you mean about wanting to hug the poop out of a city. Coming off the airplane to Halifax. It was a bit intense. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT HALIFAX! I LOVE THE FOG! Screw sunny days. I'll take rain and fog and cold breezes if it means being home.

rory said...

Vacations are great, but there ain't no place like home. Wherever it is.

Amanda said...

Oh, I'm so glad you had a great vacation! I am jealous. Every summer my family would rent a cottage on the Connecticut shore, which people talk smack about all the time, but I loved it, and want to totally do the same thing with my family, when my daughter gets a little older

Shann said...

Greetings from Ocean City!

I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation. I'm sure my Monday morning next week is going to be the same as yours. Bleh.

And congrats on deciding to do the marathon - 11/22/09 will be my first, too! :)


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