Ocean Air

In the time of corona, I long for the sea.kids in ocean (2)

From Philly, where I grew up, it was only about two hours to Atlantic City. As we approached the coast, the air grew cooler and the humidity of the city faded from memory. A stench of sulfur told us we were passing Egg Harbor. Then salt air breezed in, wiping away all unpleasantness of parental tiffs and sibling squabbling and we knew we were almost there.

I practically hung out the window waiting for the Atlantic City skyline to come into view. This was decades before gambling and glitz took over, and I could pick out each grand  old hotel, Steel Pier and Million Dollar Pier, and the spot where Mr. Peanut would bow to passersby and wave them in to a shop filled with the sound and aroma of peanuts clacking around in the roaster, and overflowing with pastel rolls of salt water taffy and an array of souvenirs coveted by visitors each summer.

Once we arrived at our rented flat it would take only a few minutes to toss our stuff into our rooms and head out to the beach. The best moment was climbing the stairs to the boardwalk and viewing the vast sea for the first time. The feeling that anything (and everything) was possible would overtake me for a split second. Then we’d scramble down to the broad expanse of scorching sand and, while our parents searched for the perfect spot for our blankets and umbrella, dive into the gray Atlantic. If we were lucky, the jelly fish and stinging flies had not appeared yet and we could float and swim and ride the waves in bliss.

In the lonely time of corona, my mood lifts when I recall those days.

It is 110 degrees today in the Bay area, smoke from a raging fire in Napa seeps into my little house, and rolling blackouts and even a 3.4 earthquake keep me on edge.

But if I close my eyes and remember the vista of the sea, the breeze enfolding me, my mood lifts with anticipation of a day when I will walk along the water’s edge, cull the oddest shells peeking out of the mud, meet friends for a messy crab dinner, and drink a toast to all we have endured and enjoyed, to life.


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