One of the first things that struck me as significant after I’d been in Long Beach for a while is the unusually large number of exceptionally tall men here. Since I, unfortunately, don’t happen to be one of them, it’s always gotten on my nerves. The women’s height doesn’t seem to be the least bit distinctive but there are so many very tall men. Maybe it’s only my imagination but I seem to see them everywhere. A major advantage of life around here is that no matter where one may go, he’s always within only a mile from the nearest beach. One of the major disadvantages is that we’re so close to Kennedy Airport that there’s a disgustingly large amount of time in each day during which the incessant sound of jets flying overhead can be heard. I’ve always despised noise so it gets me crazy. I had that problem in Wyoming too, having lived right down the street from a small airport, and close to the Scranton Wilkes Barre Airport. The disproportionate number of oversized men is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. It’s just a really odd quirk. I know that they’re not all originally from here so you can’t really say that there’s necessarily anything in the local environment that contributes to their height. It’s just quite a lopsided coincidence.
Unfortunately I didn’t respond to the prompt that asked what day 211 would be like. My parents both died last autumn so I’ve been subjected to quite a few very significant changes this year. It’s turned out to be quite a nice uneventful year for me though in most respects. I’ve been having quite a nice time getting used to life in Long Beach. Nothing has gone especially wrong for me. I’ve always had a hard time adjusting to change anyway. I’ve been meeting new people here and figuring out how to find my way around. The people at St. Mary of the Isle and the nearby Coffee Nut Cafe have been getting used to having me around by now. It gets me quite crazy but I’ve been able to handle it. Sometimes I go to the beach or at least walk toward its general direction. I make sure I go to Mass most days during the week. I can’t stand cold weather here but I can’t stand cold weather in general anyway. Now that it’s warm and sunny out I’ve truly been having the time of my life. My feet hurt quite a lot though so I have one very minor complaint that seems not to have any kind of a solution.
The last time I went to the beach specifically in order to spend the day swimming was, believe it or not, on Groundhog Day. Mary Anne, Steve, Mark, some friends of theirs and I went there for a Polar Bear Club fund raiser. If we were ever to go there around this time of the year, on a bright sunny day, eating watermelon and having a leisurely enjoyable time, and suddenly from out of nowhere, hail were to start falling onto us, it most certainly wouldn’t be even the least bit difficult to find something else to do. Of course there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t stay on the beach so maybe we could go to someplace like either the Coffee Nut Cafe or Gentle Brew in order to get something really nice to eat or to drink. Those are both exceptionally good coffee shops on Park Avenue in Long Beach. We could even do what we did after our jaunt on Groundhog Day. We could very easily come back to the house and have a few drinks or coffee, or both, right here. It would be difficult to get there but at least we could stay indoors and have something enjoyable to do until the storm abated. Since the beach is only around a half mile walk from here it’s never the least bit difficult, although there would be quite a few other disgruntled people to have to deal with under such a harrowing set of circumstances. The only thing that would make it unbearably aggravating, would be that, since the beach is so close to here, we would most probably have walked there. That would mean that we’d have to walk away in such unbearably miserable weather. Even in a car, we’d be forced to drive so unbearably slowly in order to avoid any trouble. For people who have to travel an even reasonably significant distance to the beach, of course, things wouldn’t work out the least bit well. Of course that’s all assuming it’s only a moderate hailstorm. If it gets very bad, we’ll have to hide under the boardwalk.
Were I ever to take a walk down Lincoln Boulevard one day and to stumble upon something very valuable on the beach, I should probably try to do something in order to find its legitimate owner. At first, knowing me, I should most probably be so desperately tempted to keep it without telling anyone. My imagination would wander around in many different directions. If I found either an exceptionally large sum of money, a significantly expensive piece of jewelry, or some other major thing, I’d go quite a bit overboard with all sorts of mixed emotions. Imagine all the bills that could be paid. If it’s an extremely significant sum there would be enough left over to be quite self indulgent too. I could splurge on a lot of luxuries. Who could possibly be expected to pass up such a nice deal? It would take me quite a terribly long time to make the final irrevocable decision to do the entirely honorable thing. Of course if it’s cash, or merchandise without any serial number or other identifying marks, as far as I know it would be entirely fair to assume that no one could prove ownership anyway. Unfortunately, though, there’s also quite a seriously intense part of me that eventually would have to end up reporting it to the policemen over at the local precinct. It’s always so very much better to do the right thing than to take a chance by doing something that might sooner or later backfire and do more harm than good anyway. If after the official waiting period has expired, it still hasn’t been claimed, I should then be quite willing to keep it. Then I could be so very happy without having to be bothered with all those nasty obnoxious voices, in my head, constantly whining at me.
I just got back from the local beach at the end of Lincoln Boulevard. It started raining at about three o’clock this morning. Although the rain stopped a few hours ago, it’s still a cool, foggy, dreary day so there were only extremely few people on the beach. The last individual I saw on the way back was a young guy with a white dog. Right now he must be thinking about his wife and kids and how he can keep track of all their schedules, and he hopes it doesn’t start raining yet again because he’s sick and tired of always having to drive back and forth to work, and to go shopping and to run errands in general, on a rainy foggy day. Then there’s always the problem of how to deal with a wet, smelly dog. Because practically everybody in the entire City of Long Beach has a dog, and can frequently be seen outside walking it, this gentleman must have a large supply of anecdotes he’s looking forward to being able to tell about his antics with all his fellow dog-walkers. Besides that he wants to know what his friends think of the latest adventures of all their favorite sports franchises and politicians, as well as what a bunch of certified morons their opponents are. His life is all about taxes and other bills, car keys, cell phones, car pools, extra curricular activities, and miscellaneous annoyances. Things that were once so fresh and enjoyable are now equally stale and dull. Maybe his wife is no longer the beauty queen and sweetheart he thought she was fifteen years ago, nor his kids the perfect models of behavior. Like everyone he’s hounded by aggravation, resentment and regrets. Nobody at work understands him, but at least everyone is willing to humor him. At least he’s aware of the fact that his life’s only as big of a mess as everyone else’s anyway. Being happy most certainly isn’t easy.
It’s so hard to believe right now, but summer will soon be upon us, and I’m truly looking forward to it. I simply can’t stand cold weather. Although I don’t, so far, have any specific plans, I shall be so happy just basking in the warmth of the sunshine. Ever since I was twelve years old I’ve always lived very close to water. Long Beach is well known for its beaches. I can take a half-mile walk down Lincoln Boulevard each day, and go to the beach. Even if I don’t go into the water, the boardwalk can provide me with quite an amazingly impressive view. In Wyoming I lived very close to the Susquehanna River, and it was very quiet and very enjoyable, with such fine scenery. In Lindenhurst I was right across the street from a few nice canals. They were also known for being so epecially picturesque. Since I’m still fairly new to Long Beach, and quite unfamiliar with it, the summer months will give me quite a nice opportunity to get out and to travel more throughout the city. Although I shall absolutely dread the traffic congestion because of all the people on vacation, it will all be worth it. I was always quite involved with my parishes in Queens, Lindenhurst and the Wyomings so now I can take advantage of the warm weather out here to start getting really busy with St. Mary of the Isle too. Maybe I shall go to northeastern Pennsylvania to to see my father’s relatives for the long Fourth of July weekend. Perhaps then I can relive our infamous blueberry picking fiasco of yore. I’ve been doing so much walking lately anyway. Out there, especially in the nearby Poconos, I shall be able to do a lot more walking because there are a lot more wide open spaces. Besides all the fattening food and crowds on the Independence Day weekend, the main thing I may have a bit too much of a problem with will be the sunburn. Because I’m a bit pale complected the sun, if I’m not very careful, can take quite a toll on me, mostly if I spend a significant amount of time either in a pool or at a beach. Over the course of the past eight years in the Wyomings I got a chance to meet a lot of people and to make quite a few friends. I can even visit them too. Most certainly I shall have to visit my mother’s relatives. I’ll say hello to Uncle Frankie and Fran, and all of Aunt Lauren’s family. If things really work out well I can even take a few trips to Jackson Heights and Lindenhurst to visit my old stomping grounds. Most importantly of all the weather will be warm. All I really want now is to have as much sunshine as possible. Unfortunately it will be my first summer since my parent’s deaths. I shall have to get used to each set of circumstances, as it comes up, without them. That will be the only seriously sad thing. As much as I dislike change, it’s an ongoing inevitable occurrence. Both good and bad keep happening. Instead of complaining, I can consider my first Long Beach summer as yet another lopsided adventure.
This year Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday. It’s also the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple so I went to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue. That specific day also happened to have marked two other very distinctive occasions for us. It was also Super Bowl Sunday. This year was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. That’s also the day each year during which the local members of the Polar Bear Club have their annual fund raiser in Long Beach, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. After Mass I came back to Mary Anne’s and Steve’s house to find cousin Mark here. He and Steve were hanging around getting ready for the big day over at the boardwalk. Each of us put his bathing suit on and after a few shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey , that seems to have become quite a staple for us by now on special occasions, we went, with Mary Anne’s friend Lynn, to the beach at the boardwalk. On the way we met another friend of theirs, Liz, who comes from Brooklyn each year to join them. Because of bitter cold weather and precipitation over the course of the past few days, and a very foggy morning, it was quite a surprisingly nice day, although horribly cold. Everyone had a nice time and the Polar Bears made quite a lot of money for the Make A Wish Foundation. As always, though I was seriously aggravated by all the endless walking.