Wildwood Daze – 1980 – I’ve Had It With This Town

I love the summer. I’ve been dropped here against my will by some other person. My father. I have no control over my life. I have to go to school at a new school as a stranger. I know you have a problem with my dissatisfaction and depression.

I excel in school and start a band. I thrive in this shit hole you’ve dropped me off with no concept of how that will break your son’s spirit.

Janice is off in college so you’re good. If anything is of kilter your going to lose your shit and that is me.

What did you think was going to happen?

Let’s rip the 17-year-old son from all of his friends and his band from Philly and drop him off in Wildwood, New Jersey. A retirement and resort town the you already know is a deathtrap for young people.

You dropped out of high school to get away from this hell hole. You joined the army rather than turn to crime at 17. You fucking asshole that I love.

I get it. I worked in banking just like you for 30 years. You were making a bunch of bad loans at the Provident in Philly and got out when the getting was good.

You retreated to NJ. your little safe haven to escape, but you never thought of what that would do to the children in your life.

The little ones were fine. April and Gabby didnt;t know any better. But I was a senior in high school. I never got to graduate with my friends at Frankford in Philly. I had a band. You destroyed that for your little escape plan.

But what was that. You replicated your life in NJ as the regional manager at First Fidelity Bank. You’re a great manager and a great man. But you really have a taste for some of your employees, man.

I remember telling you about a girl I met once how I was in a relationship and I told you about how I had feelings for her.

You said, “Why don’t you just move on her”

I said: “Because that would be wrong. I’d be cheating on my girlfriend and that would betray her trust in me.”

You were pleased and happy with my answer.

I knew it.. because you could never be that. I could see it in your eyes you were relived that I wasn’t like you in that respect.

That respect.

Bitch, please.

If you’re unhappy in your liffe, divorce mom and just send the check and leave us the fuck alone. Then you can bag Jennifer Sweeten or as you call her “sweet meat” all you want until her husband finds out.

You’ll figure it out.

 

You and your brother Jack were dropped off here after your parents divorced. Nobody got divorced back then.

Why the hell would you think it was a good idea to drop me off in this shit hole?

Wildwood is a glistening sand castle of magical fun and romance in the summer… and then it turns into a bleak shroud of dark depression where there is nothing going on in the winter. It is a desolate hole of isolation that is impossible for a teenager to escape.

Here I am. I know you and there is a part of you that is me. Some great. Some awful. But you have the chore of raising the shitty you and now the shitty son you don’t understand who is too much like your brother Jack.

So if there were any questions as to why Chaz wanted to load up the ’69 Volkswagen minibus and drive across the country to go live in sunny California let’s put all of that to rest right now.

I love you, you selfish, self-serving prick.

I really do.

Thank you for teaching me to read. Thank you for all of the books. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike. Thank you for teaching me how to catch a fish. Thank you for teaching me to drive a car. Thank you for teaching me about wine, art, and literature and film. Thank you for teaching me about women. (To an extent) Thank you for everything.

I’m not going to mention all of the bad stuff here.

All ready did some of that.

 

Time to load of the 69 VW minibus and head to California.

 

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Cherie – Chapter 40 – Once You Go Black…

I haven’t seen Cherie in a month. I don’t realize this because I have been busy with Ambria. Filling in the blanks of our relationship. There aren’t any blanks, per se. I love Cherie with all of my heart. I do. She’s an extraordinary being that I have had the honor of meeting and somehow she has fallen in love with me.

She wants nothing from me. She’s working so hard on finishing her education, and the great job at CHOP and of course raising her son. She rocks. But lately it all just seems to be getting to her. It’s like she’s at her breaking point.

She moved back in to her parent’s house a awhile ago. Good thing is, you’re with your family, and that creates unity, and you can all lean on each other and help one another. But I’m learning more and more about the family.

She has a great relationship with her mother and younger sister. But she has an older sister who doesn’tt live with them, but lives with her boyfriend. What Cherie told me today, was that the older sister lived out in California and had two kids. But she got into a relationship with some whack job, (I don’t know if he’s the father of the children. Somehow I think that he’s not.) He was abusive to her, and beat her up a few times and she fled back to Pennsylvania to escape from getting killed by this asshole.

The kids are being raised by the grand parents now. But everybody pitches in. But here’s the rub. Older sister isn’t raising her kids. In my eyes she’s dumped them off on the grandparents. But here is the worst part. She’s pregnant again and is keeping the baby. If you can’t take care of the two kids you’ve got, why the fuck would you bring a third one into the world?

Cherie will be graduating from Temple in a year, and will have her degree. I think when she does go back to school she won’t have to deal so much with these kids. She’ll be studying and going to school full-time and working.

Her son is 6 years old and smart as a whip. But I know from the stories that Cherie’s told me that she’s spoiled him and regrets that. Plus he’s the eldest of the kids, so he leads the other two little ones into chaos. But if all of these kids are acting up like animals, someone isn’t doing their job in the discipline department. His dad isn’t around enough and the kids are maniacs and I think it’s really getting to Cherie. But she created him. The great thing is, it’s shown her what a challenge parenting a child can be, and she NEVER wants to do it again.

That’s good for me. She has all the qualities I like, smart, sexy, and sweet. She has her youth and a slamming body. She’s at the age where most women start hearing the ticking clock and all become desperate to get married and have children. Cherie has already been a mother for the last 6 years, and she is DONE.

My daughter Lorelei is 20, and I’ve been done for years. Lorelei’s great and comes and goes as she pleases and is a good kid.

I should just get a vasectomy tomorrow!

Cherie loves me for reasons that are pure and I want that. Cherie is a perfect match for me. A fun girl that’s not around all of the time so I can have my alone time and my social life with my friends without worrying.

She’s been stressed and super busy and so have I. I understand why she was pissed when she didn’t hear from me. She told me she doesn’t want to get hurt so she put up a wall. We resolved it all over the phone a week ago and all is forgiven, but we did discuss it more when she came down to the city today. We both feel recharged and the bond between us is even stronger now.

She didn’t get down here until 7:30pm and she’s tired. We walk back to my apartment so we can relax. It’s been hot lately, so when I left my house to come out and meet her at her car, I left the AC on. So the bedroom is nice and cool when she gets there. I light a candle and put on some soft music. (Pandora – Music for Lovers station)

She takes note that I’ve gotten her some fresh candy on the table on her side of the bed.

Hopefully when she goes back to school and gets her schedule we can figure out ways we can spend more time together. Even if it’s just a lunch or a cup of coffee. We just need to stay connected. Maybe a nooner when Lorelei is not at the house.

Cherie loves me so much. I can just tell. She’s such a good woman. Can you imagine if I end up having a girlfriend who is a doctor?

We chat on the bed and hold each other as we get comfortable. She knows what’s coming. It’s inevitable, and she needs it.

“You have such lovely eyes, Cherie.”

“You’re blue eyes are much more beautiful.”

“They’re only beautiful when they’re looking at you.”

We get undressed and for the next few hours we do all that stuff that we both love to do so much with each other.

Take it Billy…

 

 

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Racquel Writes! Mothering from the Sidelines

via Mothering from the Sidelines

 

http://www.racquelwrites.com

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 4

The kids pick me up and I’m stupid happy to see them. Lorelei’s boyfriend has the coolest car. It’s a black ex-law enforcement vehicle. So it’s a Crown Victoria, Still has the bigger motor, spotlight, the special suspension, and the battering ram on the front.

So technically, he can never be stopped by the cops for ANYTHING.

I love this car and I love the identity tied to it.

They’ve been together for 4 years and everybody loves Liam.  He’s a great guy and if he can put up with my daughter were good. (LOL!)

Oh course we have to stop at Wawa because they need coffee. (These kids and their lack of energy today!)

We drive to Janice’s house and I love that Liam is on point and I literally have to do nothing but provide banter.

It’s so relaxing. Just to be.

 

We figure out parking and all stroll up to the house.

We enter though the garage as everyone does. I decide to make a grand entrance and start with the opening bars of Andy Williams:”The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

My cousin exclaims that’s her favorite holiday song and immediately hugs me.

 

The party is in full swing. I hand Tom his mystery bottle of booze and we scatter to talk and mingle with everyone..

 

I don’t have to get into detail here because that’s our time, but it was amazing to see what’s left of my entire family.

Me and all of my sisters. They’re all amazing women. I love all of my brother in-laws too. The nieces and nephews. My daughter! So good!

 

Janices’s son got engaged to his lovely girlfriend. I adore them both and wish them nothing but health and happiness. (I’m not going to say anything about grandkids, but by writing this I already did!)

 

It was magical day as it always is thanks to Janice who has kept the Christmas candle burning after all of these years.

That event on that Sunday IS my Christmas now. Without that party, Christmas would simply be a day when nothing’s open in Philly to me.

So thank you so much Janice for the incredible party you put together every year for all of us.

It means the world to me and it’s all I have left of anything that resembles the incredible Christmases we all had as kids with mom and dad.

Those memories are locked in home movies but even clearer for me in my own mind. I have all of details right here. More vivid than any 8mm film could tell. Sadly those will go with me when I pass. But… Our Christmases where so epic someone should have made a film about them.

Didn’t Janice get a Volkswagen Rabbit one year? lol!

But all kidding aside, my dad loved Christmas so much. He passed 2 years ago but if he were still around I’m sure mom and dad would love to see that we’re all still together and still celebrating the season.

I thank my sister Janice for keeping that flame still burning.

 

I’ve stuffed my head with tons of food, and they’ve packed tons of cookies and goodies for my trip home, but my ride needs to roll so I have to leave.

I bid farewell to all of my brethren and off we go.

I’m the old guy in the back of the cop car going to the train station.

 

What a great day.

 

Christmas for me is now complete.

I’ve seen everybody in my family and the feeling is pure bliss.

I have a Tupperware container full of cookies baked by my sister April that is the EXACT recipe for my mother’s christmas cookies. They taste exactly like them and every bite brings me back to our time in the kitchen with mom at 312 Magee avenue at christmas with my sisters and my mom.

Every bite is worth s fortune.

Better than money.

 

The kids drop me at the train and the beauty of it all is that it’s perfectly timed.

I love that.

I literally pass my ticket and step on the train.

In 30 minutes I’m back in the majestic bubble of Rittenhouse.

I feel the rush of returning to my sweet city after and incredible day that couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s so good, even I couldn’t have written this level of joy.

 

I get home and settle in.

It’s 6:30pm. I’ll watch some christmas shows and have a cocktail.

A quiet night of love and refection.

 

4 hours later…. my phone rings.

 

WTF?

 

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Christmas 2018 and Beyond – Part 3

The train goes back underground as we enter Camden NJ. That place is a den of scum and villainy that could have been a mini mirror to Philly but has failed in so many horrible ways. I’m actually glad in this moment my internet connection has gone black again as we enter Camden.

I think back on good and bad memories in Camden and will write about them at some point but that time isn’t here.

Camden is an awful place in New Jersey, but at some point I’ll tell you some stories from that once great seaport but for now I’m just passing through.

Happily locked in an extruded aluminum passenger car on PATCO.

 

The train once agin rises from the darkness of Camden’s tunnels and re-enters the sunshine on the this fine sunny day.

I look at all of the scenery and as the train roars east. I see all of the ghettos and shit neighborhoods below the elevated tracks. It hasn’t changed in over 40 years. I’m sitting here in a brand new train in a comfy chair, listening to Howard Stern and Christmas Carols and I’m shooting past absolute poverty below me.

What will Christmas morning be for the children in this neighborhood.

But I’m facing backwards. So I watch it all fall away from my view. By not sitting forward the sadness was never coming up… but going away from me.

See how this is working?

We roll into the Ferry Avenue stop. This is the stop where for years I would pick up and drop off of my daughter with my ex-wife.

I remember I would pick her up there and bring her to Philly when she was younger. But I also remember when I would ride the train with my little one and arrive at Ferry Ave to give her back on Sunday, I knew I wouldn’t see her for two weeks.

I was always sad on that quiet train ride back to Philly.

 

I feel all of that rush back into me but I’m not sad because I know at the end of the line, my daughter and her boyfriend will be picking me up and we’ll all go to Janice’s house for an amazing gathering.

The train rings and surges forward, and I watch as that sad memory fades as well and becomes joy.

Collingswood, Haddonfield, and all of the rest of the stations pass.

I can see my whole history living in New Jersey in my miserable marriage fall away from me. All vanishing down the gleaming rails.

All of it. I’ve lived in several of those towns and it’s good to see them all fall away from me and know that my daughter and I are no longer prisoners to the lie that is a domestic life so many hold dear.

I no longer have any feelings or emotions about any of that nonsense, but it’s nice to see South Jersey simply go away through a window on a train ride.

I could feel the cleanse of that moment and the exuberance of all of the wonderful people I was about to see, and where I was now in my life.

 

I finally arrive in Lindenwold. I don’t know this station. iI don’t care. I get off and head down the escalator and go outside. I’m listening to music and feel really good. The weather is surprisingly mild and I take a seat on a bench outside awaiting the arrival of Lorelei and her boyfriend.

I’m so happy and so filled with holiday bliss and energy I’m not even listening to Christmas music anymore. I’m listening to songs by a Swedish metal band called Angel Dust. I haven’t listened to any of that in 10 years! Maybe longer. I must be drinking deep on my dopamine.

I text my daughter that I have arrived and I think she’s a little stressed as so many young people are. She doesn’t want to keep her dad waiting. I tell her not to worry and to take her time and be safe.

I know this lovely day will unfold as it should.

I sit back on the metal bench and smile.

It’s been a while since  I simply sat in the sun.

I feel it on my face and it is as comforting as my mother’s hand in mine.

I don’t know why, but I was just in such in a beautiful moment of calm sitting on this bench out in the middle of nowhere in a place I’ve never been.

I knew my daughter was coming, but I loved this moment in the morning sunlight by myself.

I felt the sun’s energy on my face. I put out my hand and felt the sun in my hand.

Sun in my hand.

Happiness in my hand.

It’s within me and right here on my face and right here in my hand.

This is my holiday alone moment.

Just waiting but not impatient. Just calm. It’s so nice. It’s never been like this.

Sun in my hand.

No problems. Just Happy Christmas time.

Maybe for the first time ever.

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 2

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I had been talking last Sunday about how I had been searching for the Christmas spirit before my sister’s annual holiday party.

All of the Christmas carols, the lights in Rittenhouse, the hustle and bustle of the season. None of it gave me the surge I was expecting.

But if you read that post, (Christmas 2018) you’d know that the holiday season had been in me all along.

What a blissful feeling it is.

My life is so simple and elegant now. I finally get it. You don’t need a bunch of stuff and events to be happy.

Live simply, and simply live.

 

Before the event I stopped at the liquor store. Every year I have a ritual where I present my sister Janice’s husband with a quality bottle of liquor.

I figure, I come into his home, and eat and drink as much as I want and am surrounded with all of my favorite people in the world. So give the guy a good bottle of booze!

I pick it up the night before and settle in at home after work listening to Christmas music and writing. My favorite place to be most evenings.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my whole family tomorrow.

 

The next morning I get up and grab a healthy breakfast. In years past I always had a great deal of anxiety when I had to travel. Just an old ailment. Usually there were several moving parts to traveling to my sister’s party. There would be daughter Lorelei, my then girlfriend Michelle. We had to pull it all together and get to 30th Street Station.

It was always stressful for me. But the end result once we got to my sister’s was always so good.

I had to get all of the tickets at a machine I always struggled with at the station. I would sometimes go out there the day before and buy all of the tickets just to take the edge off.

I always got a large bottle of water and a package of crackers just to put something in my stomach. Just nerves and anxiety and travel.

All of that is long gone.

The plan has changed. NJ Transit is doing track work and not running. (Now what do I do?) I’m not getting any younger, and my lovely daughter Lorelei takes charge and I love it.

I get the text. “Dad. Take the 10:15 train at PATCO and take it to Lindenwold, NJ. You’ll get there a half hour later, and we’ll pick you up in the car and drive you to Janinice’s house.”

I love it.

I’m finally at a point in my life where I don’t have to figure everything out and manage everybody else.

After a nice breakfast, I head to the PATCO station at 16th and Locust. Normally for a solo mission to Absecon NJ on New Jersey Transit it used to run me $40 round trip.

I enter in my coordinates into the ticket purchasing machine at the station and it tells me it will be $6 round trip!

Six bucks! It’s a Christmas miracle!

I grab my ticket and hop on the train.

It’s been a while since I’ve set foot on PATCO. They’ve replaced all of the trains with newer models! Lovely train cars. I step into one of the cars and figure out if I want to sit forward or backward.

I know it may seem odd, but that’s part of the trip.

I go with my instincts and decide to sit at a window seat and actually decide for some unknown reason to sit backwards.

It was a great decision.

I don’t travel much and I don’t know why I chose this. Normally people like to face the way they are going and so do I. That’s just normal existence. Makes sense.

Underground in the subway at 16th and Locust there’s no wifi or cell contact. So I sit in silence waiting to go.

The bell rings and the train lurches forward. I’m just chilling in the darkness thinking about all of the wonderful people I’m going to see this afternoon.

This one day a year.

This one day in time.

A party that someday I will no longer be around to attend. Just like my parents before me.

The train is traveling east and then south. It will leave Philly underground and then rise from the depths of the subway and traverse the Ben Franklin Bridge which crosses the Delaware river into New Jersey.

I always took New Jersey Transit to get to my sister’s house. But like I said,  NJT is having construction done through January, so it’s down. I am taking PATCO for the first time to Lindenwold.

As the train roars up along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge the view is spectacular. I watch my beloved city stand in the cold winter sun glistening under the blue blue sky on this Sunday before Christmas.

I love her.

I want to die in this city.

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I know I’ll be back around dusk to see her again. I’ll feel the snap in the air and the flash of her holiday season as her heart beats in every household, restaurant and chest of every Philadelphian in my city.

 

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