Turning memories over upon themselves.


@postaday 165; #postaday2011.

My friend Kimberly is on an adventure with her son. Read her blog after you read mine, LOL! She has taken her son from Hawaii to her childhood summer home in New York for a taste of a different kind of seashore experience. It’s an emotional roller coaster for her family, but, they knew it would be. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. It will certainly be a summer for her son to remember, forever.

I recognize the impulse. My daughters were also born in Hawaii. I enjoy taking them to the Jersey Shore, to Long Beach Island in particular, for a slice of my childhood. Funny. To me Hawaii has never had that salty flavor in its air ala Jersey Shore. The powdery white sand is an indicator of eons of time passing by. In Hawaii, the beaches are coarser, mostly of crumbled coral, lava and mud.

Charlotte, Sophie, John, Barnegat Lighthouse, Long Beach Island, N.J., June 2006.

There is a photo on my desk taken five years ago this month. I lagged behind my family as we walked north on Long Beach Island toward Barnegat Lighthouse. My daughters, in matching purple tank tops, floral shorts, socks and sneakers, are walking hand in hand. John walks along side them. My friend Doug Mashino would say it is a typical photo taken by me: From behind. I remember taking that photo. I waited until John wasn’t blocking any of the girls and that the lighthouse could be seen clearly in my composition. It is a perfect moment.

That photo says so much to me. It takes me back to when I spent summer days at the shore, collecting seashells, playing on the sandbar, riding the waves on our rafts, the smell of suntan lotion, the sound of teenagers’ radios playing the songs of summer, airplanes flying overhead with banners promoting Joe Pop’s night club or the little girl and the puppy pulling on her bikini bottom to “Tan, don’t burn! Wear Coppertone!” Now I wonder what the airplanes pull as they fly north to south and then south to north along the long and skinny barrier island.

Whenever I go back to the East Coast, I find it’s no longer a place I really belong. I am a visitor. My memories have been razed. People unknown to me populate my childhood landmarks. Inevitably, I get lost trying to get to my brother’s house in Moorestown or my sister’s house in Cherry Hill. I always want to drive by the row house in Riverside on Rush Street where I spent my first 12 years. Then I want to drive by the house on Swede’s Run Drive in Delran where we lived until I escaped at 18.

A lot of my childhood should be forgotten. Most of the ugly memories are locked away. Whenever my sister wants me to talk to her about some of those things, I truly cannot dig them out. I have buried them for good. We look at each other, perplexed, and disappointed. I, because she wants to go there again. Her, because I cannot deliver the satisfaction she seeks. I wish she would just bury them on her own.

I say I escaped. I truly did. It was a tumultuous time. My family fell apart. It was horrible. I joined the Air Force. I reinvented myself. When you leave home, you can become everything you wish you weren’t as a kid.

So why do I go back for high school reunions, to see old friends? Why have I reconnected with so many people from my past on Facebook? Although I am still that girl they all knew years ago, I am also more than that. And I guess I want people to know it.

Author: lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer is my new opponent. Writer, super sub teacher, triathlete, awesome cook, ocean girl with head-to-toe sun protection.

3 thoughts on “Turning memories over upon themselves.”

  1. that’s a wonderful blog entry, paula. reinventing yourself is another way to say not being a prisoner of your past. but you’re comfortable enough in your own skin to reconnect or stay connected with your contemporaries from that era, some of whom might not even have been friends back in that day.

    i hope we have as great a time on our impending east coast jaunt as we did the last time around. as long as we approach it with the proper spirit of adventure, we’re bound to have a blast and create some more fond memories.

  2. What a pleasure it is to be a ‘tag’ in your blog post; Especially more fancy because it’s a blog post I really enjoyed! I hope you get the chance to re-create that photo some time soon!

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