Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life is full of surprises

Sandy Sky
Suzanne McDermott

“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything that happens in life”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations



The happiest days of my childhood were spent on the beach in Longport, New Jersey and wearing out my summer flip-flops over the street running between the Atlantic Ocean and Great Egg Harbor Bay or up to Ozzie's for a cheeseburger washed down with a frosty mug of Dad's Root Beer. All those summers I was mostly sandy and salty and free as a bird.
The narrow strip of Longport starts at 11th Street on one end of Absecon Island. Atlantic City is at the opposite end. If you stand on the jetty at 11th Street, you can look across the inlet to Ocean City. A little over one hundred years ago, Longport was attached to Ocean City but when I was little, we'd have to cross bridges and take a long route around the bay, pastBurma Shave signs for after-dinner walks in Ked's on Ocean City boardwalk where we'd eat cotton candy, play pinball machines and smash into each other's bumper cars.
My mother's parents kept a summer place in Ocean City. My father's family stayed at theMarlborough Blenheim in Atlantic City. In my grandparent's era, some big storm took out a big chunk of land from Ocean City up to 10th Street in Longport forming the Great Egg Harbor Inlet.
In the early 1960s, another big storm took out the boardwalk that used to run along the sea wall in Longport. During that time, we rented a house that backed up to the beach one lot from the ocean. When that storm came in, our ocean front next door neighbor insisted on staying in his house and both were washed out to sea in the storm.
Today, the borough of Longport is covered in a deep layer of sand. Considering that it's a spit of barrier island no wider than a city block in most places, it's no surprise. Still, it's a major pain to dig out from and clean up after a disaster.

Wet and ruined

I was going to wait a while to bring this up but...

I've been through a year of unusual challenges. A few days over a month ago, I stood on the back of an ABF Freight truck surveying the remains of my possessions strewn across over a hundred yards of blacktop in front of storage units. In short, there were holes in the freight truck that I'd hired to ship my carefully packed and covered belongings. The freight truck encountered severe rain storms. In the midst of the 8 hours it took to peel wet cardboard from boxes of soaked books and frames and prints and clothing and CDs and correspondence and photos, I thought about a lot of things. At one point, I looked at the stuff and thought "This is an opportunity for a new beginning."
New beginnings can be mighty rough with grief for the old, exhausting learning curves, and plain old hard work. But new beginnings are literally what life is all about.
With that brief synopsis, I send my school friends and cousins (and Aunt Joan) my best wishes for recovery at the Shore and to all of you, anywhere, who've been affected by Sandy.

"...and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become."

Graham GreeneThe Destructors

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