Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Avon Journal, No. 408 -- From The Lost Diary Entry Archive

Today during a brief visit to the beach, as I mounted the steps to the boardwalk and turned around for one last look, I said silently to myself, “Goodbye, Atlantic Ocean. I love you!” 

It wasn’t the first time; that’s what I usually say or sign (by blowing a kiss, say) but it struck me. 

How odd. How sad. How true. This stretch of the Atlantic that I've been visiting practically since the day I was born ... it fills me with an almost painful nostalgia. Navigating life through acute saudade. Is that my problem? 

Before I leave Avon, I pull the car over to sum things up. And I write: "What’s lost: conversations. Artful and funny ones. My parents could tell stories well, or at the very least, they could to me; I found them endless entertaining (and annoying, to be sure)." 

While at the beach I think of how we are recruited from our childhood into the fan clubs of our parents. I will be haunted forever by their stories, their gripes, their crusades.

I write this in part because I'd recorded them during the visit, and I thought I would queue up the interviews in the car to listen. But after a minute or so of listening to my father, I couldn’t bear it any longer. I imagine him knowing, I imagine him sensing that there is only one reason I have finally begun to conduct my most important interview.

During the visit, I walk through Avon like Thoreau, taking possession of every old home, of the brown shingled Anglican church, of the B&B with the Gaelic name, just with my gaze. I need to walk the streets other than Sylvania, somehow their unfamiliarity mesmerizes me, and I find a hunger to memorize the facades of the homes I like. I linger in front of them, almost spellbound by their existence. Some of them are set back from the street – which is rare in Avon, so notable; some have Irish sayings hanging over the front steps. Some have cozy porches that make me ache with envy, even as the porch at my parents waits for me. 

I like the streets where the homes have a double identity – they front the pond or are near the pond, for example, so beyond sitting two blocks from the beach, they are homes by a pond. Or the homes that line the Shark River Inlet. It feels almost audacious in its consumption – two identities not one. Beach home and home along a river inlet.

I need to carve out more time to walk in Avon but it isn’t easy. Yet the older homes are disappearing. That’s a slight exaggeration but it is true new 'gaudy monstrosities' (to steal a line from "Ocean's 11") pop up each time I visit. New empty lots appear, cleared of someone’s life.

Eventually the tiny, pink cottage a block from the beach will disappear. How acute will my nostalgia be then?


Lost diary entry

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