Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Due to desperate financial circumstances, I had to put my things in storage for a time and move in with my mother in Far Rockaway. Needless to say, this was devastating to me on a number of levels. 
I moved in in January 2011. When the weather warmed in the spring, I'd go for long walks on the boardwalk. The walks served several purposes: sleeping on a couch every night is not kind to mild arthritis sufferers!  The walks helped me work out the morning aches and stiffness. Second purpose was to contemplate my circumstances and figure out what the next move would be, if there was a next move to be had, and the third was to give my mother and me some space from each other. Sometimes I brought my camera or phone to take pictures while I walked.

I've lived near bodies of water for much of my life: I grew up in a housing project apartment overlooking the East River; I bought a house in south Jersey two blocks from the Delaware; I often walked along the Schuykill in a park in Philadelphia... but the Atlantic Ocean is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish (yeah, I had to say it.)

As the months wore on, I grew to dislike Far Rockaway with a passion. It is aptly named: it's far from everything. There is only one bus that gets you off of the peninsula towards the subway, which takes almost an hour to get to downtown Brooklyn. There's no shopping area there; you have to drive or take a bus to find a supermarket or dry cleaners. As a non-driving city girl who's always lived walking distance from neighborhood amenities, living in Far Rockaway was torture. Even the beach and the ocean lost its luster for a time. By late summer, walking on the boardwalk and staring out into the ocean no longer appealed to me.

Fast forward 18 months. I've moved out of Far Rockaway. I called Hayley, my daughter a few weeks ago and asked if my grandson had ever been to the beach. Hayley said no, because she's not really a "beach person" -- no doubt because I wasn't much of a "beach person" when she was growing up. So I said, "Well, I'm kidnapping Lucas next weekend." It was time my grandson developed the same love of water that the rest of the family has! Side note: as children, my siblings and I often went fishing with my mother or grandmother. I don't have the skill or patience to work a rod and reel anymore but I still enjoy spending a lazy afternoon by the water. My ex-boyfriend loves fishing as much as my mother does. A few years ago, when I lived in south Jersey, I'd often bring a book and a chair and while away the hours reading or just watching him catch and release.

So Lucas and I packed up beach toys, towels and assorted paraphernalia and off we went. Just as I thought, just as all children do, Lucas fell in love with Far Rockaway. I mean, head over heels in love with the sand and the sun. He's a little afraid of the ocean -- which is OK with me 'cause I don't swim -- but at the end of the day, I finally got him to go close enough to stick his toes in.  

"GG" (short for 'great grandmother') and Lucas

We went for a second trip last weekend and had as much fun as we did the first time, partly because my mother came down and spent a few minutes on the sand. She made small sand castles and Lucas had great fun smashing them. She playfully tried to grab his feet or legs every time he ran over to do his "Hulk Smash!" thing which he found to be hilarious. For quite awhile, he stopped making sand-mud pies long enough to run over and smash her sand mounds every time she made them just so that he could run away from her grasping hands, shrieking and laughing his head off.

There was a woman with two young daughters sitting behind us on the beach. She asked how old Lucas was and told me that one of her daughters was the same age. She mentioned that her daughter wasn't having a good time because she was hungry. I advised her that there was a small convenience store right nearby, in the building where my mother lives. She was thrilled and ran off to get some food for the kids. I thought, "Isn't it convenient that there is a small grocery store nearby so that people can grab snacks while on the beach?"  I hated going to that store when I lived in the building because everything was marked up ridiculously: a small jar of mayonnaise was nearly 5 bucks, a two-liter soda costs over $2.00, etc, etc... but I guess if I was a store owner and I knew I was the only store around for blocks, I'd take advantage too. 

(I had Slacker radio playing on my phone while we were on the beach so our voices on the video are obscured by Red, Red Wine by UB40. Whoops.)

After several hours on the beach, Lucas and I went upstairs to my mother's apartment, showered, and then raided her fridge for rotisserie chicken and pasta salad. We washed it down with cream soda, my mother's favorite. (Shhh...don't tell Lucas' mom; she doesn't really like him to drink soda. Neither do I but what the heck.)

For Lucas and I, this is our last beach trip before school starts and probably our last one this year. But maybe not... maybe I'll take him one last time before the weather cools and this time, maybe I'll convince his mom to come with.

Far Rockaway is still too far from everything but it's become a memory-maker for me and Lucas. This is what he will remember years from now when I'm gone. So, so glad now that my mother lives right there so that we can visit her during our beach adventures as well as have a place to shower and grab some grub before taking the long ride off of the peninsula.

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