DAY 11 – FENWICK ISLAND, DELAWARE
We arrived in Fenwick Island, Delaware late into day 10. It rained pretty much the entire day, from Richmond all the way to Delaware, at which point it stopped, good. I pulled into the parking lot of the Fenwick Islander motel. From what I remembered from over a decade ago it was a cheap place, and luckily, it still was very reasonable. We booked the room for 2 nights (initially the plan was to just sleep on the beach like bums the first night but since everything was soaked we decided against that), dropped our shit off, destroyed a Grotto Pizza, and headed down to the beach, which was a 3 minute walk away. The entry to the beach was right next to the hotel I stayed at every summer with my mother as a kid, more about that later.
The sound of the ocean really is something else, and I prefer the Atlantic in this part of the world to other ocean sounds that I have experienced. It is a very clean sound, a crisp crash, a sizzle spread. And the darkness, christ the darkness. I looked out into an expanse of nothingness and had the feeling I could see everything, if that makes any sense. I wonder what it’s like out there, resting on the undulating sea, dark and water silent. Scary, really. The Atlantic at night is like my future.
We woke in the morning and headed down the street to grab some breakfast and play some Viking Golf. Now mini-golf in Ocean City (which is much much larger and borders Fenwick Island directly to the south) is an institution, which Josh found to be quite unusual, and I guess it kind of is, but what tradition isn’t unusual, especialy if it’s not one of your own? Now Viking Golf and the surrounding attractions at the “Fenwick Boardwalk” are really nothing special, and that’s exactly how I remember it. It’s very charming, not grandiose in the slightest, and a bit run down. It has that “played in” feel. I used to play mini-golf down here with my father as a kid when he would take us to the beach, and by us I mean his girlfriend and her son, who was kind of like a step-brother to me. Even though she ultimately left him, and for good reason, her son and I still stay in touch and maintained a relationship after that. I remember the first time I beat my father in mini-golf too, at a course called Ice Age golf I think. It was a banner fucking day for Michael Buckius for sure, my father seemed a bit perturbed losing to his son, but I felt victorious in more ways than one. After Josh and I played 18 holes, which we tied, we went back to the hotel, lotioned up, and headed to the beach.
The sea was angry that day my friends. I saw the lifeguard had a sign that said ROUGH SURF, but I figured I had done this so many times before I’d be ok. I spent about 15 minutes in the water before I realized I may have met my match. I was getting tossed around a bit and thought it best that, rather than drown on this trip, I should just go relax in the sun. I read some Dylan Thomas, in whose book I found the official literary quote for this trip while on the beach, and soaked in some rays. After that we went back to the hotel, showered, shot the last John D sketch on the beach, then headed to the Ocean City Boardwalk.
Up until this point in my experience revisiting my childhood coastal towns I was shocked at how really nothing had changed. Everything pretty much looked the same, and all of the old establishments I could think of were still there, it blew me away. I couldn’t help, as we walked past the souvenir shops, amusements and arcades, but think deeply of my childhood experience. Some of the fondest memories I have as a kid, with my mother, and my father, were spent here. It smelled the same, it looked the same, the cheesey Haunted House that I was terrified of as a boy was still there, it was such a trip, I can’t get over it. Even the sand sculptures were there, but they were all religious, and I wondered if, as a kid, they were like that, and I was just drawn to the art, overlooking the christian connection. Who knows.
After walking much of the boardwalk and walking past some key high school Senior Week locations (what a shit show), we hopped in the car and headed back up to Fenwick. We went out to the beach at night one more time and I walked around the Coral Sands hotel.
Now Coral Sands has a very special place in my heart. It is where I spent virtually every summer vacation as a kid with my mother (when I would go to the beach with my father it seemed like we were always staying in a different place). Sometimes it was just us, sometimes it was with a friend of hers, or a friend of mine, or my cousins, but no matter who was there it still feels like it was always just us, it is our place. I have a real mother and son against the world vibe when I think about our time at Coral Sands, I can’t tell you why, and she may completely disagree with me, but it feels that way. Things were always rough for me in school back home, and things were rough for her being a single mom, working, and trying to deal with me, so our coral sands excursions were a beautiful time for me, and I think for her too.
As I walked the grounds I made a point to visit a very specific spot. I took a picture. This place, in front of the room we stayed in when I was probably about 17 years old, is burned into my memory more than any other place here. It is a place that maybe comes to mind once a week, while I live my regular life in Arizona, often during meditation. At this spot I sat, and thought. I was listening to Wating in Vain, thinking about some girl I was crazy about at the time, which sounds unbearably cheesy and cliched if you know the song, but it wasn’t about the music, it was about the moment. Relaxing at this spot, at the beach, thinking fondly of another human being, well, I’m not sure, I think it was the first time that I thought about someone how I feel you are supposed to think about someone that you care about. Deep, visionary thoughts, where when you think of them and you think of your personal future, they make an appearance, they fit into a scenario that is formed in the mind, influenced by some sort of creative ideal. It was a place that I knew I would eventually return to to possibly have some sort of personal revelation. That didn’t happen, but I took a picture anyway.
I stayed up until 5 working on the website and in the morning we went and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful, I was tired. We went back to the room, slept until we had to leave and then hit the road. Fenwick Island is a wonderful place, filled with so many personal connections. Josh said he really loved it too, which made me happy. Next stop is Lancaster, PA, my hometown, and Harrisburg, where my mother currently resides and where we will crash for the night.