My niece graduated from Central Bucks High School West today & I am SO PROUD. She'll be headed to Northern Vermont University in the Fall to study Mountain Recreation Management with a concentration in Ski Resort Management.
My sweet little nice is spending the weekend with us & today she learned that sometimes riding bikes can be gnarly. Lily got a bloody nose while ripping the pump track at Catty Woods when she landed her first trick on her face. Surprisingly, she was not upset. She sort of just got up & looked at me with blood coming out of her nose & said calmly "My nose is bleeding".
Luckily there were a ton of dudes around who have landed tricks on their face so it turned into a "look at this scar" party, which she thought was pretty cool. I think she's pretty cool & tough as nails. Of course, because I'm no good at this whole thing I let her soak in a tub with a bath bomb that ended up making her break out in hives. I had some kiddo allergy medicine on hand (because I give it to my dog), so I gave her some medicine & we went to bed. Now we're up, she's watching kids play Minecraft on YouTube & then we're headed back to the woods to celebrate what is probably the last TT & Lily weekend ever.
Like most people who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I spent my entire childhood going down the shore (that means traveling to the beach, for those of you who aren't from the suburbs of Philadelphia). Going down the shore was basically the extent of vacationing for our family, my entire childhood. Once, when my siblings were all really young (Veronica wasn't even born yet) my stepdad piled us all into his Monte Carlo & we drove to Disneyworld for a week. That was a big deal. However, the shore is still the highlight of my childhood, those trips being something we try & recreate in our adulthood. This past Saturday I somehow managed to have the day off from work so I convinced my midwest-grown boyfriend to go down the shore!
It's about a 2 hour drive to Seaside Heights from my house. We didn't leave until the afternoon. It was a spontaneous trip, the very best kind. The drive was uneventful. We spent most of it just talking, at one point my boyfriend declared how stoked he was on life. How everything just seemed really good & now he was on his way to spend the day just relaxing. Around 3pm we pulled onto the bridge that goes over the bay to Seaside Heights. I texted my sister Jennifer & told her to tell Lily, my 5 year old niece who was not-so-patiently waiting for our arrival, that we would be there in 15minutes.
An hour later I had to text my sister to tell her the bridge was broken, we were stuck (see that grey dot up there, that was us) & that we hadn't moved since the first time I texted her. This is probably where I should tell you that, although I'm pretty tough & not afraid of much, I am afraid of one thing & that is bridges. Like, deathly afraid. Like, close my eyes & hold my breath when we cross one afraid. Like, as a child, Jennifer & I visited my dad while he was living in London & during a double decker bus tour of the city we crossed Tower Bridge & they jokingly sang "London Bridge is Falling Down" & I, not-so-jokingly had a panic attack. I am totally afraid of bridges & here we were, well into an hour of my biggest nightmare come true. As people began to get out of their cars & things started to fell very "Walking Dead" to me, we got word that the locking mechanism on the bridge wasn't working and they couldn't cross the drawbridge fully to allow us to cross. Instead, the police would have us all turn around and drive back off the bridge. Once we got off the bridge we would drive up to the next one, cross, and drive down to Seaside Heights. The GPS said it would take us about an hour to travel what should have taken 15 minutes & had already been an hour and a half.
Three & a half hours later we finally arrived in Seaside Heights. My relationship wasn't as strong as when we had left the house & the beach, the one thing I was looking the most forward to, was close. But Lily, my sweet sweet Lily, was over the moon excited that we were there.
The beach was closed but there was still a pool, so we decided to have a pool party & a party it was. My family had been down there for a week by this point & Lily had been working on her surfing skills in the pool on a boogie board. She was totally hyped to show us & we were totally hyped to not be sitting in traffic anymore. After the pool we got changed & headed to the boardwalk, the most magical of kitschy kingdoms. We rode the carousel, played skeeball, took photobooth pictures & attempted to win a giant unicorn for Lily (& failed over & over, so if anyone can get that giant plush unicorn from Despicable Me, I'm willing to pay big bucks for it. I'm so serious).
Side Note: the summer of 1996 I ran away from home. I packed a bag & took the train to Atlantic City & then caught a bus to Ocean City. I slept under the boardwalk under Jilly's arcade, spare changed for money to eat, made out with towny boys. I was a summer squatter & it was the best summer of my life. Some of the friendships I made that summer were with people I'm still friends with, twenty years later. I have an emotional connection to the shore that consumes my heart the minute I smell the sea air. Even now, almost a week after we went to Seaside Heights my sunburn is peeling & I'm itchy as hell but I still hold every minute we were down there in my heart like a horcrux. A little piece of me stays down the shore withe every visit, ya know?
Anyway, my boyfriend being from the midwest, doesn't have an emotional connection to the shore the way I do. He doesn't see the bright lights shine the way I can. The people shouting at him from the games are alarming, not at all charming. It's loud & crowded & the whole thing is just overwhelming & anxiety inducing for him. So, even though it's none of those things to me & I could walk it back & forth forever, we called it a night & headed back to the house because he deserved that relaxation he had been dreaming about the entire six hour drive & he wasn't going to get that on the boardwalk.
The next morning my family packed up & left Seaside Heights. It was raining as we walked to our car but by the time we got to a bagel shop (the only vegan option we could find in Seaside) the rain had stopped & there was no more in the forecast. We decided to spend the day down the shore, Brian insisting that it was the right thing to do, possibly feeling a bit guilty about the night before. I was psyched! We headed back to the boardwalk,watched a pole vaulting competition on the beach for a little while & then changed into our bathing suits (mine, a two piece from Mod Cloth covered in am all-over banana print). As we laid on the beach in the sun with the waves crashing on the shore I felt more calm & content then I had in so long. It hits me every time I'm down the shore: it is my HAPPY PLACE. My anxiety is non-existent there. I don't stress about work or bills or anything. If only funnel cake was vegan, then I would officially be the happiest girl ever.
I am feeling very reminiscent about life as I always do this time of year. The photos to the left are of my great-grandmother & great-grandfather Hipp. My great-grandmother was a firecracker with her fire engine red hair & incredible dance moves. She was everything I hope to one day be. That's what 2013 was for me, trying to become the woman I hope to be.
In 2013 I turned 35, witnessed my sister Veronica graduate college & my niece Annabelle sing her first solo in her school's winter concert. I also became an aunt again to a tiny little dude named Liam. I went on a zine tour to Chicago (& tabled at Chicago Zine Fest), went on a small solo zine tour to DC (& got the deathly hallows tattooed on me while there), read 11 books, wrote a few zines, wrote a book (which got a mention on avclub), tabled at Brooklyn Zine Fest & tabled at DC Zine Fest, tried my hand at nanny life, got an extensive amount of dental work done, took a roadtrip to Connecticut with my sister Jennifer, my niece Lily & a dog. I also celebrated my three years sober milestone (which gave me the strength & experience to be a support system for my brother who fought really hard & got his life back). I celebrated two years with my beardy dude who I went to Los Angeles with for a few days (& spent time with some of my most favorite people) & San Francisco for a week (where I saw my first old growth redwood). I saw Courtney Love twice. I also went to Ladies Rock Camp, learned to play drums, formed a band & played a show. I also finished two more semesters of college!
This year was incredible & I look forward to 2014.
Congratulations to my sister Veronica & her boyfriend EJ on the arrival of their beautiful baby boy.