Hello. Earlier today I had a migraine (I think??) and then ended up puking up a smoothie bowl and sleeping from 7pm-9pm and I feel better so now I’m all HERE I AM! but everyone else in my house has moved on with their lives* and don’t care that I’m out & about so I’m entertaining myself by looking through old pictures which I brought downstairs over the weekend because remember when I said I thought it would be fun to include pictures of Henry and me from the 80s on the fridge? Don’t you listen to anything I say?
*(Actually, when I stumbled downstairs at 9pm Henry was near-catatonic on the couch while Chooch was fully immersed in minecraft & I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned for a split second that Chooch had actually poisoned us so that he could open up our house to his guild of Dischord misfits.)
I found a nice assortment of oldies but of course I was stoked every time I found one from Wildwood and then I would try to explain each photo in agonizing detail to Henry who was barely listening because he was nailing trim to the wall or whatever, like that’s more important. But then I realized, I can come here and do that thing that I do where I hear myself saying the words that I’m typing out loud, in my head, and I picture that I’m presiding over a table full of sycophants who are hanging off my every hyperbolic word, probably with better manicures than my own but they’ll pretend not to notice that I use drug store nail polish because they’re infatuated with my BRAIN not my APPEARANCE. Except that they covet my accessories. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s OK. I’ll tell you where I got my teeth cameo if you ask.
I chose this picture to talk about tonight because it warms my heart even though, yes, it features my brother Ryan WHO RUINED MY LIFE WHEN HE WAS BORN. I still to this day tell people that my favorite number is 4 because that’s the last good age I had before my Only Child Crown was wrenched from my blond dome. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Ryan! I mean, now.)
So this would have been the summer of 1985 because Ryan was born in May of that year and there he is looking like he still cannot support his own dumb head, what a loser. Anyway, this was taken at either the Olympic Motor Inn or the Waikiki, which were two of the motels we used to always stay at on our family trips to WILDWOOD, NJ, the best place ever (until I discovered that South Korea existed). I always loved the “motel” scene in Wildwood and would get so fucking excited every time we arrived and parked in the garage, because I couldn’t wait to get a Dole Fruit Bar from the vending machine outside of the swimming pool area and use the outdoor shower to get the sand off my feet before going back into the room.
Oh man, would you look at the wood paneling?! The best! That makes me think that this was probably the Olympic (which I think still exists but they took out “Motor Inn” from their name since now people associate motels with blood-stained sheets and quarter-fed vibrating bug-infested beds and sleazy affairs. But in Wildwood, it meant FAMILY VACATION TIME!) because we only ever stayed elsewhere twice: once at the Waikiki which as the name alludes was Hawaiian themed and I was so excited about because there was A ROOFTOP RESTAURANT and I thought I was fancy sitting up at breakfast drinking orange juice out of a glass with my hair all pulled back in a bun. And then the last time we ever went was in the early 90s after my other brother Corey was born and we stayed at this newly built resort where we had a whole-ass 2-family townhouse thing to ourselves, an immaculate pool, and a private beach: I HATED IT. It didn’t feel like Wildwood. This was also after I started to realize that I had become fat and ugly and had to be seen in a bathing suit and oh yeah I had braces too, and now there were two additional grandkids for my grandparents to pay more attention to and I basically just hated life anyway so it probably wouldn’t have mattered where the fuck we stayed, to be honest.
My grandparents always came with us, which made these trips even better, because my immediate, core family could never sustain a healthy, functioning vacation on their own (I still have nightmares about the terrible time we went to Niagara Falls and my mom decided she was going to leave my step-dad and I was like YES THIS IS THE BEST TRIP EVER NIAGARA FALLS RULZ but then she didn’t and I was like “Niagara Falls sucks.”
But you know, just like with my brother Ryan, all the love for my dad!)
OK back to this picture. I loved that night gown – it had a panda on it, and I am 100% holding a plate of my mom’s specialty: buttered toast with sugar and cinnamon. Oh man, every time she made that for me, I was like, “MY MOM LOVES ME.” I’ve tried to make it several times as an adult but it’s just OK. It’s like how sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them for you, but that logic probably doesn’t apply if I’m the one making you the sandwich, just so you know.
It was weird looking at this picture, because I could instantly remember how that toast tasted (LIKE A MOTHER’S LOVE BEFORE SHE WENT ON TO HAVE TWO ADDITIONAL KIDS AND PAID LESS ATTENTION TO YOU AND ALWAYS TOOK YOUR STEP-DAD’S SIDE IN YOUR KNOCK-DOWN DRAG-OUT FIGHTS SO YOU TRIED TO JOIN A GIRL GANG AND THEN DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL…), how that orange blanket felt (kind of scratchy, tbh) and just generally how that room smelled (like Wildwood, duh). I also remember that Wildwood had Nickelodeon before our cable company in Pittsburgh offered it so it was a TREAT to go there every summer and watch THE MONKEES and YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION (Alastair 4ever).
I always talk about the Boardwalk whenever Wildwood comes up, but to be honest, the Olympic (and Waikiki that one year with the rooftop OJ!) was such a huge part of these vacations that just thinking about it makes me get super choked up and emotional. I want to go back there so badly but I know in my heart it won’t be the same and now Chooch is a teenager and he’s going to be like, “I’m here with my parents and everything sucks” and maybe I’ll just wait until he goes off to college and Henry and I can have an Old Person Beach Escape but then who will ride the rides with me on the boardwalk!? UGH.
And if I ever go back, it will be nice having the option to JUST SAY NO to Cape May, which my grandma always insisted on day-tripping to every summer during MY WILDWOOD TIME and I hated it so much, going to endless shop that all sold the same dumb beach art and jewelry while she filled my head with fat-shaming microaggressions and then one time I bought Mexican jumping beans and thought they were magic. There is a picture floating around somewhere of me looking like I’m contemplating feeding myself to seagulls while we were on a dolphin-watching boat tour, I look like I’m the epitome of pre-teen angst and am looking for ways to peel off my skin, step outside of myself, and swan-drive into the raging sea. So FUCK YOU CAPE MAY. (Although, according to Yelp, it looks like there are some cute vegan restaurants there now. NO! I WON’T BE SWAYED!)