Fractured Facade

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THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, also Free on Amazon for Kindle Unlimited readers or $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Virginia Beach

My daughter and I just returned from an impromptu trip to Virginia Beach. This was my fourth or fifth time during a span of 45 years. Frankly, I didn't care what beach we went to as long as there was an ocean crashing within spray mist distance. We checked into the Best Western Plus Sandcastle (click here for Trip Advisor review) whose desk clerk very kindly changed our room from the one in front of the elevator and ice machine, to up another floor and far down the corridor. This was the view from our balcony. Perfect.

This is how we felt upon arriving.

The smell and sounds of the ocean cut through our bleakness fairly quick.

Even if I'm not a kid, and would never go on any of those death traps, I mean rides, just the sight and sound of others having unbridled screams of joy, or terror, makes me feel tingly near an amusement park. This is probably from my Coney Island childhood.

In the past I've found Virginia Beach to be tacky and dirty. I was pleasantly surprised how I found it this trip. Oh, it's still tacky, but definitely not dirty. Sanitation workers patrol the strip constantly, emptying out the mostly already empty trash cans, and extinguishing lit butts with their gloved hand, then tossing them into trash. The city must have a problem with cursing because there are "no cursing" signs, expletive symbols with a red slash going through it, on the street poles. What's up with that?

What the city is now providing, new from the last time I was at the beach, are all different sorts of street performers in the parks, the main strip, and the side streets. Some are pretty pathetic, but there were quite a few impressive artists, and this troupe was our favorite. They are the Kenyan Safari Acrobats. They performed a half-hour from their touring two-hour show.

Now, this fellow was quite impressive with his balancing and holding himself ramrod straight on those wooden chairs. You know how strong you have to be to accomplish that? He was really cut, but not in that obscene muscle bound Bobo way.

Now, don't try this at home...

How low did he go...pretty freaking low. They were amazing, and I loved watching them dance to the African beat, not that rap crap, but the continent's songs. It was fun walking the strip, but it got old after two days. The girl is almost 21, but not in Virginia's eyes, so I can't report on any of the bars or such establishments. I can tell you about the restaurants.

One thing I cannot understand is how can a city whose whole existence is built around the sea not have exquisite seafood? Heck, after a while I would have accepted decent seafood. Every restaurant we went to I tried some sort of fish. I'm from the mountains, so if I;m at the seashore I crave something short in supply, fresh seafood locally harvested. Not one place delivered. The only thing that came close was the shrimp and crab cheese dip at the Mexican joint, and with the minuscule amount of shrimp and crab in it, I'd say it was the cheesy part that was a hit.

We went to this one restaurant, Big Italy, and I have to say, as a New York Italian, I was slightly offended. It was so cheesy, (not the good imported stuff) and cliche. Can you imagine being a chef in a "nice" restaurant,  having the sea lap at your feet, and yet serve previously frozen clams in baked clams casino? They were so chewy and disgusting I spit them out in my napkin. I told the waitress they were the worst clams I ever had, and asked her to find out if they were frozen. She didn't report back. We may be tourists, but that doesn't mean we don't know good food. Well, after experiencing a Japanese seafood buffet, maybe too many tourists don't.

Although I had hoped the seafood would be as fresh as it is in Maine, New York, or Florida, it wasn't even close to what I get in Roanoke, but that's okay, the beautiful beach trumped everything. It's so much wider and cleaner than I remembered it. I was fine just bobbing in the ocean,  chilling in a chair, reading a book that wasn't for research,  or flipping through a Vanity Fair magazine, but others were more adventurous.

See that dot? That's on the internal lens I believe. It gets worse when I zoom in.

Still there. POS camera.

So, we're in the ocean and this couple brings their shih-tzu in with them. She would clutch her mother's arms whenever a wave would rock them. Her four little legs were doggy-paddling the air. When they placed her in the water she started swimming. They did hold onto her the whole time.  The lifeguard whistled and told them no dogs were allowed. While she was on the beach waiting for the father to get out of the ocean, I called silently, "Bella." She turned and I snapped this shot.

Every morning I would be awoken by the sunrise peeking through a slit in thick drapes covering the widow. The sun was already beating down directly onto our balcony. I loved sitting there drinking a cup of coffee, listening to the crash of waves, my nose sizzling in the sun. It was so relaxing.

By the third day I was able to leave my troubles behind. And then I made a mistake and checked Facebook where I read reports that a major automotive parts company in Roanoke were set to make an announcement. I knew this wasn't going to be good, so I texted my son, who happens to work for said company. Apparently I wasn't supposed to know anything until I got back, but his position, along with many others from four more divisions were being terminated in Roanoke. They are moving them to Raleigh, NC. He was going to be out of a job. I almost preferred that to him transferring to an even more southern state. Luckily Raleigh's ISP provider is Time Warner, and for a gamer that's a deal breaker. And just like that the serenity was gone...

On the last night a major storm erupted. It was wild watching it from the balcony. I was able to only get this one shot because my POS camera would not stop trying to focus.

When I awoke the next morning it was still raining, but the sun was trying to peek through.

And then what I had been searching for, for four days, came into view...a family of dolphins frolicking close to the shore. You can see one of them at the top of the photo below. I finally put my camera down to just watch them. So beautiful and graceful, they immediately lifted my spirits.

Then a huge beam of light fell from the heavens and goosebumps popped on my arms and legs in the eighty degree heat.

I experienced the proverbial cloud with silver lining. Rather than worry about what my son wouldn't have, I reflected on the possibilities of what he could have in the future.

This girl trip was a major milestone for me. This was the first time in 19 years, since we've moved to Roanoke, that I got in a car and drove away alone along the very highways I had convinced myself to fear. I had become so complacent with my husband handling all the driving on freeways, carrying the heavy luggage, being my "protector," that I had allowed myself to think I couldn't drive hundreds of miles without him, "just in case" something might happen. When I conveyed my fears to my daughter before we left that I might panic on the highway or while driving over a bridge or through a tunnel, she laughed at me. "You drive in Manhattan, along the Belt Parkway and BQE, even around the crazy Grand Army Plaza eight lane roundabout, and that was terrifying, so I wouldn't worry about it." She was right, and she probably doesn't even realize how grateful I am that she opened the cage and allowed me to soar just by asking me if I wanted to get away for a couple of days. I feel like my old self again, and the girl feels like a new self. All in all,  it was a great trip.


  1. A most excellent post. I'm glad you had a good time. Your son will be fine. New doors open, even in the bleakest hours.

  2. I'm a bit late reading but did enjoy this!!