Sometimes feelings are overwhelming, especially the wistful sort from the past. I was just writing a fellow who, with his partner, owns a hotel in Asbury Park, along with hotels in Provincetown, where they support my non-profit work. I have not been down the shore in New Jersey since just after my father died and about three years before my mother died. The whole of my childhood and entropy which came to characterize its progression had to be put in a box, behind me, for the sake of my own survival. I got into a giant mess in the wake of this big ball of tragic fiasco. And I don’t think I’ve stepped foot in New Jersey at all, actually, now in nearly fifteen years. Wow. I’m just realizing this as I type here. Truth be told, though, when I saw that these aquaintances of mine had bought and renovated a hotel in Asbury, my first thought was: I do need to go back and come to terms with the magical tragical times for which the shore was a backdrop in my early life. From the time I was seven until the time my parents sold the what was once just our summer house in Belmar prior to their deaths, the length of the shore, from Asbury Park to Sea Girt, was my personal playground and the site of many firsts, and not all of them wholeseom. I’m sure I will write all about this one day. In the meantime I still have very mixed feelings about the whole of my past.
I think I’m too used to things being ripped away from me. My parents increasingly isolated and disassociated from the many, many friends, couples with families, who made up the social fabric of my early life. We were always in groups. We lived in an apartment building with best friend neighbors who were constantly around. In summer we belonged to a “cabana club” with an even wider array of families and bbq’s and group dinners out in summer, late night, en masse, where the plastic booths or chair upholstery would stick to the sunburned backs of ones legs, and where you would fall asleep at the table, being carried to the car, slightly waking, and then back into the apartment. Then when I was eight years old we moved to the suburbs where our world already started to shrink. But still, weekends would entail perfumed couples dressed to the nines showing up in Cadillacs and Lincolns, for drinks before heading out with my parents to some fancy restaurants—or they would have parties that would go into the wee hours; and I would fall asleep to the reassuring sound of adult laughter from far off rooms. And there was always the shore. Our house had seven bedrooms and was always filled with visitors, our wrap around porch, crowded with close revelers, giving the impression our house was some sort of Inn, attracting strangers up to inquire about Vacancy, which opened these poor strangers to some harmless though certainly semi-drunken practical jokes by my Dad and his bravado filled pals.
My parents belonged to a culture. They were New Jersey. My father was from the largest Italian family in Hudson County and my mother from an equally giant Irish clan of cops, chiefs of police and local politicians. My parents were tiny, just over five foot, but they were enormously popular. But slowly, slowly this peopled word became ever vacant, until my parents world shrunk to living in a two-room apartment, smaller even than the one in which they started, filled only with plastic picture frames and encroaching demential.
I’m glad these things are coming up; not that I haven’t written about them before probably. It’s times like these one really appreciates the fact they took Typing in high school Do you remember wondering whether or not you should take a typing class? We didn’t know then that the whole of our adult lives would be spent in front of keyboard. Which it shouldn’t be. But, hey, for better or worse I did end up a writer. That’s how most people know me, anyway. Anyway, I think the creeps feeling I was talking about in the previous post is all about me. I think I give myself the creeps. I think I’ve become aware, and acutely so, of my own shortcomings and incidents in the past where I have contributed to the demise of good relationships or situations that didn’t need to be destoyed. And I think I destroy things because, like so many elements of my childhood, past and even my adulthood, I’ve felt that feeling of things being ripped away. So I think I tear them I knew one before they can be thus ripped. I’m a highly sensitive sort and am easily hurt and really really struggle with (not) taking things personally. I work a lot with clients on this subject, secrety working on myself in the process.
Anyway: Asbury Park. It would be fun to pursue something there. I think I’m ready to see that part of the world again. See what’s still miraculously standing and what is now the property of Lady Mnemosyne.
I am a son of Earth and starry sky. I am parched with thirst and am dying; but quickly grant me cold water from the Lake of Memory to drink.—“instructions for the dead” written on a gold Orphic tablet
Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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