triggers: the raw bar

triggers: the raw bar

there are different memories of mine of the jersey shore, the real one, not what you saw on TV, wildwood crest when I was a child (boardwalk with rides and games) and then later on Cape May, I never recoiled, as early as I can recall, at the raw seafood bar (specifically talking about The Lobster House), it took me a while to get used to oysters however, but clams? I suppose we were meant to be, I suppose texturally they are similar to oysters but not for me, I like the chewability of them, yes, I like to chew them, big ole cherrystones on the half shell raw, I notice many people kind of slurp them down quickly, only getting a bit of the ocean flavor doused in cocktail sauce, kind of powering through them like shots of liquor, I want more than that flash, I want to know where they are from to savor the flavor, for a moment more at least, this particular raw bar, was my first, and to which all others have always been compared, maybe the location has something to do with it, my home state, the vacation memories with my folks and now my own-some, all these years, the same, you order them up, they schuck them up, nothing fancy, a big plate of ice, a wedge of lemon, a container of cocktail sauce, no crackers (sorry Maryland), a dollar store child’s size plastic fork, and that all adds up to perfection, with social distancing in order, I had to take my order down the dock, literally the raw bar’s backdrop is the dock where the commercial fishing boats come in to deliver their catch, you sit in their shadows and can almost listen to their histories creaking in the hulls, certainly smell the fresh ocean and a bit of oil, seating is equally simple, tables made out of those rope storage spools painted over too many times to count, surrounded by the ubiquitous plastic white chairs, even in covid times there is comfort there in this setting, while not bustling it was busier than I might have thought, the every other minute decades old sounding announcement system bleating out about orders ready at the takeout window, “ticket 1916, ticket 1916, ready @ the takeout window”, but I concentrate on my plate, a glistening fresh 2 dozen, I could eat 100, or more, probably, I try to remind myself to slow down, take a sip of amstel in-between, but damn they are so good, all those memories triggered in a bite flood my entirety, the burst of sea water, a tinge of cocktail sauce, the meaty texture of the clam bellies, everything I remember, surely would be a disappointment if it were not, but my entire life, this one spot, nothing seems to change even in a pandemic year, and in a way, it calms my soul, letting me know everything will be just fine, at least for now, with a simple plate of clams, well, now… they are … gone.
(side note “the raw bar” would make a great strip club name, just saying)

Thoughts from… ah well, a vacation ending…

Thoughts from… ah well, a vacation ending…

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driving up from the beach that final time, at least this year, I feel the need to stop, say thanks and goodbye to this little stretch of sand that has been my companion, why? I just do, maybe I am preparing my mind for the drive home and all that comes with coming back to the world of real, I pass some deer in one of the longer driveways, staring at me curiously, surely they have seen cars before, I mean, I am on a road and they are on a driveway, but deer logic might be different than mine, or maybe they know I am a stranger and can recognize out of state plates as mine surely are, my headlights play games, and look like little flames playing off mailbox reflective markers, the hour is late, not quite dark yet, I should have worn my glasses, but I know this road well, no way this road would be 35 in new jersey, no way man, sweeping sliding turns up through the cliffs with no street lights save for one past where I am going anyway, how I might take such things for granted, you usually don’t see the actual top line of your lights, the exact height, here, always, and your mind screams ‘turn on your brights stupid!’ and of course look out for deer, I do both as the curves and blindspots require, my finger on the hair trigger to turn them off should another car come this way head on, no one does, this night at least, I turn into the last turn at my gate, pitch black aside from a few lights inside one or two houses, the occasional big screen seen, but everything else is dead quiet and sleeping, I treat my car like I am sneaking home on toes after a night out in my teens as to not awaken my folks, I pull in the drive way to park, tomorrow I depart, for home.

Thoughts from the porch… (travel log edition)

Thoughts from the porch… (travel log edition)

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vacation… as a creature of habit I do tend to frequent the same places year to year, I like the familiarity, it allows me to truly unplug and drain the old overactive brain from the strain of work and the everyday, this is what I am doing this week, vacate, quite literally, I could feel all the negative stress flow out of me as soon as I arrived and got settled in, my mind is clear, empty, sure, I keep tugs on the tethers of the other life I put on a shelf for a week, almost impossible to totally disconnect, but now this is like a second home, a refuge, I know the town as well as my own @ home, I know the roads, the lands, the turns, the tides, there is comfort in that, and how just super nice people are here, almost surreal, they all wave hello regardless of what is going on, it takes some getting used to but becomes second thumb after not too long, a day or so, I spend the days walking the beach for hours upon hours, there are more birds than people, my crocs in hand I just walk for as long as the encroaching tide allows, kind of like Red @ the end of Shawshank, except I am not looking to find anyone, and I am not a felon, so, besides that it feels the same, I think of the quote Red (Morgan Freeman) says about prison, about the walls being ‘funny’, and I wonder if that applies to my back there life, the walls are there to keep you in but after a while you depend on them, have I constructed my own prison? for comfort, regardless of it is the best I can do for myself or not? and does this show that sometimes you need a place, fictional or otherwise, to step outside yourself and take a look at your life from some other perspective… in a way I think we all know what we are doing wrong or could improve, but sometimes being able to stop the ride and get off provides a clarity like no other, and I am in that space now… wed night, already? I can feel the creeping twinge of anxiety approaching knowing I am halfway through my time here, like all my good porch time I will try to bottle this up somewhere in the corner of my mind , remember the lapping waves of the bay on my feet, all day the subtle roar, walking along the shore, the sweet soreness in my legs from walking in sinking wet sand all day, the occasional encounter with people and their dogs, the little DYI beach houses with kayaks stacked from summers gone, other ones crook and bent from years of storms, neglect and surf, the majestic grey heron that won’t let me get within twenty yards – every year, I wonder what sort of talisman I can create and capture all this charm, to summon when needed later on.

Notes… I am currently in Scientist Cliffs, MD… I come here every year, it is an unique place if you read up on it. I can not say I am roughing it, there is cable internet (upload speed is iffy so I can’t post as much as I really want to photo/video wise)… and a mere fifteen minute drive into town has tons of dining options, and of course the seafood is to die for… crabs crabs crabs… and oysters, if it was possible to OD on oysters I would be quite dead. This is a Covid desert pretty much (compared to New Jersey) but still not totally open, and honestly I am not ready for that either (doing all take out, thankfully all my fave places have been scraping by and are still here… so I tip them well as I have done fine in this covid time money wise). This is a great place for kids also, if you want any info just shoot me a line, I am glad to share.