47th Street | Ocean City, Maryland Memories

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be the next Ghandi, I'm just feeling all reflective and shit. 

Do you remember the first time you heard a parent curse? You knew in your heart and your mind that what they were saying was wrong, mostly because they had spent hours on end telling you not to utter that particular string of letters.

What about a time when a person, couple, or group of people you looked up to and strived to be like shared a new and not-so-savory side of themselves? 

Regardless of your personal experience, we all go through a sort of personal revolution, at some or many points, in life when we sort of lose respect, no matter how much or how little, for a person, place, or thing. 

As human beings, change can be a blessing and a curse. It really all depends on your perspective. 

And now, a short story. 

I spent the better part of my childhood summers away with Aunt Riri, Uncle Jim, Aunt Ann, and Uncle Mikey. Together with my parents, this fearsome foursome would make a week at the beach feel like the ultimate party. 

Sure, I was 7 years old and forbidden from the roof deck after 8PM, but I was permitted to be part of the daily happy hour. Every day around 4:30, I'd help the moms prepare appetizers in the kitchen (probably my ticket in to the party), then haul them up three flights of stairs to the roof deck promptly at 5PM, virgin piƱa colada in hand. There, I would watch as the sun sank down into the bay, catching clips and phrases from the adults I idolized. We were together, and we were happy, but no one seemed as happy to be alive and in love as Aunt Ann and Uncle Mikey. 

Looking back now, it's not even like they did anything drastically different from the other couples I was surrounded with on those trips. Whatever it was about their relationship, I was low-key obsessed with it - I knew it was something I wanted to attain in life. 

Maybe it was the way Uncle Mikey would look at Aunt Ann when she hid her cigarettes from her kids as they stormed the deck, checking to see that she wasn't sucking on a cancer stick. I remember her tucking them down behind the cooler, Uncle Mikey laughing as the smoke crept up behind her back like something out of a fantasy. 

Maybe it was the way Uncle Mikey would let Aunt Ann sleep until 3 in the afternoon after the annual Girls Night Out, or the way they would pack the kids into the back of his truck, Aunt Ann in the passenger seat, laughing her ass of as we tumbled around during a rough ride through the sand. 

Mostly, I think it was their overall commitment to making that trip together, with their two kids, every year. It was a time they could all be separate yet together - they guys had nights out, the girls had theirs. Couples would go on dates, a babysitter would come with us to keep the kids out of the parents hair. Those annual trips were about coming together, both as a couple, as a family, and as friends. 

Then one summer, we stopped taking the trip together as a big group. I think my family might have tried to go, just the four of us, but it wasn't the same. It was like grasping at straws, trying to hold on to the remnants of yesteryear. 

I'm not sure how true this is, but the last time I remember seeing Aunt Ann and Uncle Mikey happy together was on that roof deck. The next thing I knew, I was attending graduation parties and family barbecues in two different locations. I was old enough then to understand the conversations containing "the divorce being finalized soon" and mutterings of "Mike seeing someone." 

Aside from the fact that this was none of my business, I remember feeling a tiny part of my heart break. They seemed so unstoppable to me, but then again, I was just a kid. 

Now, with twenty plus years, some utterly ridiculous experiences, unrealistic expectations brought to you by rom-coms, and a few off-the-wall dreams under my belt, I still can't understand fully and completely what happened to the couple I once idolized, but that's okay. Because I don't have to. 

I do have to hope that they were able to enjoy the good times that they had together. 

I have to think that they learned from the bad, however much or little. 

I have to understand that they grew from the experience. 

At the end of the day, I find comfort in thinking that the positive parts of their past rest up their on that roof deck, soaked into the boards for someone else to absorb one day. I hope that they find me when I make my return to that house with my kids, a new group of friends and family in tow, ready to inspire someone else with the way that I choose to live and love.