On Ninth Avenue

Belmar is a special place. As a child it was a gift to me. We had a bungalow nestled behind number 216 on 9th Avenue near the ocean. For many summers. I was too young for Saturday matinees, or playing stickball with friends. I may have been five at the time. A lot of this is a memory I try to keep alive. And with each passing decade, the storylines move a bit. And this sleepy Jersey shore town becomes a larger part of my past.

During the last years of Bobbe’s life, I tried to draw her from the chair she loved so much and drive to the beach if only to view the water from the car window. When we did, If I could get her from the front seat to a bench on the boardwalk, we’d both have smiles too wide to measure. My mom and I were looking out on the Atlantic just as we did when Eisenhower was in office.

Today Deb and I parked at the corner of 9th Avenue, walked to 216 where Sadie Teitelbaum once rented to us, looked at where the Traymore Hotel stood, then over to the Mayfair Hotel for assurance that within its lobby time has stood still for half a century, and then crossed at 13th and got onto the sand. And walked. Peered. Looked east to a vast blue of sky and salt water.

I thought about connections. Mine with my mom. Ours with Belmar. Remembering how safe and right everything is when an only child and a single mother share a life. I picked up a half dozen shells because I needed something tangible. An object I could touch next week or next year that reminds of something that fades with every second. Tomorrow, when Bobbe is laid to rest, I will leave some of these shells with her.

There is a difference, a real difference, between silence and no sound at all. I heard it today in Belmar, with the wind and the waves, spending some last moments trying to find something that’s gone.
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