Warm weather is coming

The first thing you hear in the morning is that piercing double shriek from the seagulls, bouncing off all the concrete walls of the motel.  You know you're at the beach.  Everything else is silent, except perhaps, if you're close enough, waves crashing. 

Wildwood lacks chain motels, so it's likely your family is in one of those cheap motels with big air conditioning units and two floors with metal balconies winding all around.  When you went there each summer as a kid, you didn't see anything unusual in the gaudy decor or hotel themes -- the Polynesian with its tikis on the corners or the Pink Panther that was totally pink.  You begged your parents to stay at the Royal Hawaiian just because of the plastic atoll in the middle of the pool.  You were astounded by the idea that you could swim to your own tiny island.

You looked forward to the trip each year.  It was two and a half hours south on the Parkway, in good traffic.  Sure, you could get to Asbury in twenty minutes, and that's where you usually went, but Wildwood was special.  It was a grid of streets full of souvenir shops, it was the boardwalk, it was the finest feeling sand in the state, it was fudge.

But what you remember most isn't that quarter pound of candy you always bought (Douglas or Hankin's?) or the rounds of mini golf, or the games of chance or the ice cream portions at Duffer's or dinners at Urie's Fish Fry or the cool breeze at sunset and its feeling on your baked body.

What you remember was a time you looked in the opposite direction.  Away from the beach.

You must have been older then, 10 or 11.  Your motel was off shore, a bit cheaper, and the room faced the city of Wildwood rather than the beach.  There was a little balcony, so you sat outside and looked at the small homes, the people who actually got to live in this great resort year-round.

It was one of those days where the air felt so perfect that you wanted to write down the exact temperature and humidity and hope they happened again.  

Perhaps it was your future writerly mind at work, but when you looked back at the near and distant homes, you were inspired by two things.

One was the Amercian flags.  You counted seven of them.  They were flowing gently.  Some were far on the horizon, and you wondered about the people in those homes, what inspired their patriotism and what they were doing right then.  You couldn't actually see the house or the people, just the flag.  Maybe in one yard, people were having a barbecue.  Maybe in another, they were hanging clothes out to dry.  You liked the idea of seeing signs of life in the distance even though you couldn't see the people or their house.  You always wonder about all those lives you see evidence of when you catch a symbol waving in the distance.

You noticed one other symbol from the balcony: a red and white sticker affixed to the cable box down below.  You'd similar stickers around town.  This one had something to do with patriotism also -- maybe or maybe not, as it appeared to be from an activist group.  It said something like, "WAKE UP.  LET US BECOME ONE AND SAVE OUR COUNTRY.  CAUSA USA"  The signs were mysterious.  There was no website because there wasn't any commonly used internet in those days, so you didn't really know what this movement was about.  But again, you loved the signs of life, the chance to wonder about the people who slapped these stickers all over.  Who were they?  What was their motivation?  Who were they reaching out to by posting these semi-secret signs all over town?

You watched the flags wave and read the stickers and felt like part of an anonymous group of people, made up of all different types who populated a beach town on a perfect day.

1 comment:

v said...

hello. I was trying to find Carrie Pilby ipad download and stumbled upon your blog. I especially liked reading the post about Wildwood, NJ. My Mom had a boat she kept there every summer up until last year. Good Times Good Times. hee hee and actually my original reason for commenting was to answer the survey question
Douglas or Hankin's?
I'm a Douglas girl for sure. mmm mmm mmm and the cute Scottie's on the box always makes me smile.
Thanks for sharing your stories and can't wait to see the film version of Carrie Pilby. Cheers!