Return

We met and fell in love (and later celebrated our marriage) on this narrow strip of land between the ocean and the bay, long before our hairs were gray and gravity & weight had its way.

Moved by a song, we stopped the car and danced there beside the marsh, undisturbed for a precious few moments, before the hoots & hollers & honks interrupted our flow.

“GET A ROOM!” someone yelled from the line of traffic inching toward the drawbridge or was it from the steady stream of cars heading toward the island?

“WE HAVE A HOUSE!” I wish I responded.

“You made a lot of people happy,” said the guy behind the camera, as the song ended and we got back into the car. “So many people were smiling.”

At 18, our youngest was surprisingly unembarrassed by the new waiter who would become his father and the manager who would become his mother–as they danced across from the sea-shelled driveway that led to the Crab House where they became—us—in 1986—as the sun set over the intercoastal waterway–on the way to Cape May.
~
SUMMER BREEZE LOVE-TOUR DATA ROLL:


3 states, 6 siblings, 5 siblings-in-law, 6 nieces, 4 nephews, 2 cousins, 1 aunt, 1 parent, 1 stepparent, 1 sister of my grandmother, 1 second cousin and 3 cousins once-removed, one circle of lifetime friends from highschool (celebrating the life of one passed), 2 four-legged friends (only one who bites)…

lots of storms, 1 beach afternoon, 1 beach morning, 1 solo sunrise walk in my pj’s (because I’m 54 and men go topless), several sunsets, one timeless Cape May – Lewes Ferry crossing with my sister’s family (who made a round trip just to ride with us)…

2 different pies from 2 different sides of the Delaware Bay (Grotto Pizza & Sam’s Pizza Palace), Dolle’s popcorn, Laura’s fudge, Dogfish Head (shout out to Flesh & Blood!), West Side Market (for the best cheesesteaks!), Kohler’s Bakery–3 minutes after opening (with a line already dozens deep), one blissed-out hour at H&H Seafood picking crabs and swallowing steamers, mussels, shrimp & scallops…

1 Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille happy hour, 2 breakfasts with sisters including eggs benedict at Congress Hall, Cape May with a side of several winks from our late mother…

One 6-seated bike ride in fierce conditions (thanks for the off-roading & laughter D R Bradley’s Bikes Rentals), one niece on guitar & vocals, one starring at Cape May Stage, one dancing at the YMCA…

one rescue pause of chardonnay with my Aunt Ann on her porch in West Cape May…

4 different beds, too many steamy nights, too many latte rebounds…

lots of ocean breezes & soft conversations, 3 attempts at a sandcastle, 2 surf immersions on the beaches of my childhood (Wildwood Crest Beach!!), 1 getting too old to jump in the waves neck injury, 1 parting moment along the awesome Angelsea Seawall…

1 dance beside the marshland where we met & fell in love & married

1 more attempt at reframing these micro-visits as heroic acts of LOVE & DEVOTION instead of never enough or too much. 

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Rehearsal


Last week, or was it the week before last, my husband and I went to a concert, and over a beer in the courtyard before the show, it occurred to me that this was our first concert without the kids.

Is that possible?

When I was pregnant with my oldest, it was Michelle Shocked, Tuck & Patti, Sara Hickman, The Dead with Bob Dylan, and then once our first was born (and don’t judge me; I lived in the Rockies as a kid)–it was John Denver, then Bonnie Raitt with Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, The Prairie Home Companion, and somewhere in there Yo-Yo Ma (who played a few songs with Garrison or JT), Paul Simon; Earth, Wind & Fire, and I know I’ve missed some (along with a handful of classical ensembles & symphonies and loads of local bands); but I can’t recall a single major concert without the kids.

How is that possible?

And now Ray LaMontagne (Casey’s choice.) Alone. Like we will be. Forever. Time stretched out before us on a blank canvass. Or at the edge of a cliff.

And while I was pleasantly surprised with MASS MoCA as a performance venue, I resented Casey, not only because I didn’t recognize a single song, and it was too loud, but because we had arrived together at—an end—and there was only him—like a slap in the face.

When I was very pregnant with our first, a colleague invited us over for dinner, and she pulled out an album and began to weep as she looked at the photo of her husband with their newborn.

I immediately understood. She was feeling what I was fearing. The way motherhood would separate me from the man I loved, from the sweetness of our couple-hood—which spanned an entire decade—from the Atlantic to the Rockies to a backpacking summer through Europe to these Green Mountains where we settled just ahead of turning 30. (I’ll be 55 this year.)

But I had misunderstood, and my friend’s response chilled me.

She wasn’t grieving her husband, she was grieving the loss of her newborn. Even while the child nursed on her lap!

My breast and my lap are long empty, and soon my house will be too.

What is the point of it without them? What is the point of us?

I hate Casey.

Last night I found myself crying.

I blame it on Mr. Rogers.

We went to see the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? where afterward they should have distributed warm washcloths—to wipe our faces and bring us comfort–before exiting the womb of the theater for the brightly lit lobby; which is to say–I was primed for feeling my feelings and thus faced with the departure of my youngest for a week at camp (The Engineering strand of the Governor’s Institute of Vermont at a University), I wept into the future, which we get to rehearse this coming week.

We’ve spent a quarter of a century inside this all-encompassing womb of family life. And suddenly the bright lights are on the horizon. A new beginning. Entirely unknown. Barely considered. (Who has time!) As unfathomable as becoming parents once was.

Road Trip, Part II.

(Part I. Oldies R Us?)

Singing along to songs on the Oldies station, my hands go to my throat, noticing the glands are still swollen from the cold I came down with last week.

“It’s a good thing I’m not a famous singer with a concert tonight,” I say to my  husband as he pulls off the highway. “I have no range.”

Casey approaches the traffic light, without any response.

“What would I do if I was a famous singer with a concert tonight?” I prod him.

“You’d cancel,” he says, as he navigates the left turn onto the coastal route.

“But I would have had to cancel the entire past week,” I say, as we come to another stop.

“Yep,” he says, not a bit concerned.

“That would be really stressful,” I say, “I’m relieved that I don’t have a string of concerts scheduled this week.”

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