In my last post, I talked about how the memories that I have keep me going. Talk about rocket fuel! We sure had some wonderful times...
Long Beach Island, NJ holds so many - as I read about hurricanes hitting the east coast, I remember the time we were staying on L.B.I. when the tail end of one hit. I do not recall what the hurricane's name was, but, that doesn't seem important.
I believe I've written about L.B.I. before, and mentioned that it is a barrier reef island, situated six miles from the mainland. It is 18 miles long and only a mile wide at it's widest point. We had been from tip to tip more times than I can count, but favored Beach Haven, near it's middle.
When hurricanes hit, the island had a propensity to flood, as, there was no where for all of that rain to go and with heightened surf activity, well, it just compounded the issue.
We were staying at one of our favorite 'hole in the wall' hotels, the Elton, during one of these hurricanes (thanks Brian Duffy, a island native and one of my Shippensburg University roommates, for this photo!).
We liked the Elton, for the price (about $40/ night, with shared bathroom, or $60 would buy you your very own bathroom!), the location (about one block off the beach and walking distance to our favorite pubs, night clubs and watering holes) and the escape. We'd bring peanut butter, bananas and Wheat Thins, which would serve for breakfast and lunch. After a few days, our room would smell of bananas.
We liked to either fish for our dinner or we'd splurge and go out to eat. One of our favorites, Stefano's, is still there. Our friend, Brian Duffy (master photographer), worked at this restaurant and would provide us with the house hookup. When he sent me this photo, I asked him if Stefano's was still there. He texted back 'Actually, I'm just leaving there right now'...
Anyway, the surf the day the hurricane was coming was fabulous. We'd body surf, risking sand burns, and more, then crawl up to our towels to 'get some color' as Kim loved to say. By afternoon, the skies were gray and foreboding...and then, the rains came.
We ran back to our room, laughing, getting drenched. Oh, I forgot to mention, that along with the p.b. and bananas, we'd also bring the large size bottle of Tanqueray. Gin. Our special favorite. We'd walk over to the 7-11 and get some tonic and limes to go with it, but, sometimes just pour it over ice and plop a couple of olives in it. So, when we got back to the Elton, we braced ourselves for the storm and mixed up happy hour!
When the rains finally stopped, the roads were impassable. We did not mind. We literally waded down the street to a diner, had breakfast then splashed down to the beach to watch the turbulent and majestic Atlantic ocean pound the beach.
Later, we walked through thigh deep water on the street (no dangerous current like here in Arizona during monsoon) to the nearest bar to catch a band and a beer. I believe we would have been happy to be 'stranded' like this the rest of our lives....
....the rest of our lives...Today, driving home from church and Viro's, questions began to formulate from the rear of Kim's Expedition...
"Dad? Were you surprised with how fast Mama went?" Autumn. "I mean, didn't it take Grandpop more than 8 years to pass away from the same cancer?"
Surprised? How about bowled over?
I mean, seriously. Technology. Advances in medicine. Faith and prayer. I knew Kimmy would beat it.
"Dad? Mama went in for gall bladder surgery, right?" Yes. "So, when they found cancer, why the heck didn't they just cut it all out?".
Well Autumn, that is exactly what I asked Dr. Atkinson, the day he decided to show me 8x10 glossies of Kim's liver, following 'successful' gall bladder surgery - just after the room stopped jouncing up and down like a large tray of jello.
"I knew Mama wasn't going to make it Dad." Autumn again. "I mean, I prayed and hoped, but, I just had this feeling...you know what I mean?"
Tonio: "Really?" his voice a mere squeak.
Some days, I just don't want to.
Gas prices. Kim would always laugh, every time I talked to my Dad - "Did youse talk about gas prices?" Yes. "Why? It doesn't matter how much it cost, cuz you need it anyway" she'd reason. Correctly.
Gassing up the other day, I noticed we were directly across the street from the Tanque Verde Apartments, where our Arizona adventure began.
We hand picked this place, with my Dad's help. Off street parking! BONUS! An exercise room! Our last apartment in Philly? My weight bench was where you would typically put the dining room table - that was our 'excercise room'. Not one pool, but two! No pool back east. Movie night once a month. Sunday morning breakfast. This was not apartment living...it was resort living! And we took advantage of all of the amenities and had a blast living there...walking across the street to Udall Park - sometimes with a soccer ball to kick back and forth to each to other, or with our pup Cajun to run her. We'd walk, hand in hand, down Tanque Verde Ave to the Safeway for groceries and liked to go to Bruegger's Bagels on Sunday and sit out front with Cajun enjoying our bagels.
Autumn always uncovers 'treasures' that evoke wonderful memories...
Lord only knows where she came across this ancient relic...a ticket stub from a Philadelphia Wings game. Lacrosse. We saw the team's inaugural game versus the Pittsburgh Bulls and were hooked! Fast paced, lots of action and very little stoppage time. The crowd was always very enthusiastic, too!
Finally, back to songs...I recently introduced the bambini to Elvis Costello. 'Watching the Detectives'. I told the kids, that one of the lines in this song was written for their Mama. They were intrigued...'She pulls his eyes out with a face like a magnet'...there, that's the one! I had to explain it to Tonio, but could tell that Autumn immediately appreciated the sentiment.
Muse - one of Kimmy's favorites, has their new one "Madness" out..."I can't get these memories out of my mind..." And one by T.I. "Dead and Gone"..."I've been traveling down this road too long, just tryin to find my way back home, but the old me's dead and gone. Dead and gone." Maybe I'm the pillow man...
The bambini delight in relating to one another through music. Cody is the DJ and Aut and Tonio will shout out requests: "Can I hear 'Nocturnal Rainbows'? Aut will ask. "Sure" Cody replies, queuing it up. "How about 'Invincible'?" Tonio asks. Machine Gun Kelly. The other day, we are sharing a meal at Viro's, and one of the new cooks comes out from behind the counter. Tall, skinny. Wearing a bandanna. Cody leans in to the kids and whispers "LOOK! It's Machine Gun Kelly!". Aut and Tonio were convinced it really was. Even this morning, when he walked in for work, Autumn caught my eye, tilted her head subtly in his general direction and mouthed "MACHINE GUN KELLY" at me, with a wink and a Kimmy grin.
And then there is Redlight King - "I know what how it feels, when you have to start over. Only this time, there's no one to save me."
We miss Kimmy, but we love to share the memories. The stories. The smiles she gave us....