As I said in a previous blog post, I don’t do well with goodbyes. And I recently found out that the beach house on Long Beach Island where I spent several summers was added to the goodbye list, permanently.
It’s just part of life. A lot of people who were in the house for years are in totally different situations. If you look at the core group that made up the house for years, there are people who got married, people who are engaged (myself and my fiancée obviously included), people who are in serious relationships, people who moved, people who have been tripped up by the economy (again, myself included) and people who just, for lack of a better term, grew out of being in the house.
And over the past couple of years, it became more and more difficult to replace people who left the house, or who downgraded from full shares to half shares. Again, this economy certainly isn’t helping matters.
My fiancée and I weren’t part of the beach house last summer, although we did go down to visit one weekend. And with the wedding coming up, we weren’t intending to rejoin it this coming summer. But when we ran into one of the girls in the house the past couple of years at a restaurant and she told us that our group was pulling the plug, although it wasn’t a shock, it was still weird to hear.
I had so many great experiences in that house that I’m bound to leave some out, and the fact that senility has set in at 41 (almost 42, sigh) isn’t helping.
The obvious highlight was really getting to know my fiancée. I also made a few friends who will more than likely be lifelong friends. And nothing was more relaxing than enjoying a cold beer on the deck, no matter what time of the day it was.
And then there were the individual moments that were pure high comedy. I will never forget the guest who went to the bay instead of the beach and returned to the house in a state of total confusion (even more so than his normal state of total confusion).
Of course, a legendary moment in the history of the house was when a dear friend who was part of the original core group but since moved away made her return visit memorable by doing a table dance that culminated with the overhead light falling right off the ceiling with a huge crash.
Another classic was having the police knock on our door during a boisterous game of Pass the Pigs, only to have one of our house members tell an officer, “We were JUST playing PIGS!” Amazingly, none of us was locked up that night.
Of course, we will still be able to enjoy a lot of our favorite things about LBI. The beach will still be there, even if it keeps eroding more and more every summer. The Black Whale, our favorite seafood restaurant, will hopefully make my favorite special part of its everyday menu (bacon-wrapped scallops in maple bourbon sauce). The Chicken and the Egg will continue to be a late-night unhealthy but delicious snack stop. Holiday Snack Bar will continue serving up Slam Burgers and Dune Fries (French fries with Old Bay). Bushwhackers will still be served at The Ketch Sunday nights. Riding our bikes to the lighthouse at Holgate will always be a fun activity. And as one of our good friends recently pointed out on her Facebook page, the God-forsaken shack on Route 72 off the causeway is still standing by some miracle.
But it will be a truly strange and surreal experience driving, biking or walking by the house where we spent so much time and not climbing the steps to grab a beer out of the refrigerator. It will be creepy and unsettling having people we don’t know staring at us from the deck and wondering why in the hell these people are staring at their beach house.
It was a great run, but all good things must come to an end, and our time at the beach house is now history. I feel it now, but I don’t think it will really hit home until what I described in the last paragraph actually occurs. Bypassing that house without going in will just be unnatural.
On to marriage, a honeymoon in Hawaii, starting a family and whatever new adventures await us, but LBI will always be a part of it, and I’m sure we’ll end up spending more time there. Farewell, house.