Asbury Park in Pictures

My father and I have taken many many walks together on the Ocean City, MD boardwalk, over the past 39 years of my life. But, last week, while visiting Ocean Grove, we took a walk on a different stretch of coastline, on the Jersey Shore. And although he had visited Asbury some years before, I got to experience the boardwalk of Asbury Park for the very first time.
There’s a haunted feeling you get in Asbury Park, in the early morning hours: the mystery of the eerie old blown out buildings against the backdrop of the ever watchful ocean. The grimacing Victorian faces loom over you from above cast in copper, now green from aging by the sea. And the ornate details of the buildings tell stories of mermaids, sea monsters and ships, harkening back to a time where boats held the key to the wider world. And now, juxtaposed against that looming architecture is vibrant street art which has given new life to those strange structures. There’s this gritty, hopeful, edgy, vibe happening on the boardwalk at Asbury Park. It holds the whispers of the ghosts of its past, while beckoning you to have a closer look at the story contemporary seaside artists are rewriting on the very walls of Asbury.
The photos below, tell the story of how Asbury Park revealed herself to me, in the early light of day, on a seaside walk with my father.
Later on in the series, you will see Asbury revealed to my little family, as we traced the steps I had taken just a few mornings before.I give you the Boardwalk of Asbury Park, through the lens of my iPhone.
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Sadly, the mural of the two pin-up girls with yellow and red hair had been defaced when we took the kids to see the art. I was so heartbroken, that I did not take a photo of the piece all splattered with grey/green paint. But, while we were there, some artists were already working to remove the paint, and to restore the girls to their original beauty, as seen in the photo below.
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Thank you for taking this walk with me.
If you explore Asbury Park, please share your photos.
With love & gratitude,
Stephanie

Under the Pink

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Wild Pink Sky Late in NYC June 2009

I feel their eyes on me, whenever I walk into the breast specialist’s office, or in the waiting room at the mammography suite. There’s just a flicker. As most of the women in these rooms are here for their own reasons, whether recently diagnosed, survivors, or those who are currently in treatment. I never really know their stories. But, I note the varying levels of fear hidden behind their eyes. When they see me, I note their faces, which say: Why is she here? So young. she looks so healthy. Is she sick…maybe a young survivor?

I have similar thoughts as I furtively scan the room, taking in each woman perched on her cushioned chair. If I am being honest, I’m always looking for Mom. She’s there in the hopeful eyes of the younger patients. She’s there in the efficient and warm greeting of the office staff (she was everybody’s favorite patient). I see her clearly in the eyes of the ladies who look to be between 50-60 years old, scrolling through photos of their grandchildren on their smartphones. And, as discreetly as I can, I look to find her in the elderly ladies that sit in their respective chairs. But she is not there. She didn’t get to make it that far.

My breath catches a little, and I steady myself, putting my head back into the world of the book in my lap.

These are not rooms, where people strike up chatty conversations. Most women keep to themselves, or quietly talk with whomever they have brought as their support systems. But, me? I come alone.

My mother was 37 1/2 years old, at the time of her first diagnosis. She was so young–too young. Recently divorced, and single-parenting three kids ages 3 1/2-12. She had to be so damn brave. And, she was. She had a close friend that would come along to her appointments, or she had her mother by her side. But, when she came home from chemo to the three of us, and to that empty bed, I can only imagine how scared she must have been.

Whenever I find myself in these waiting rooms, I can’t help but feel my mother sitting in the empty seat beside me. So, no–I’m not alone, really. I have my angel planted firmly by my side, keeping me calm, and reassuring me, that if a diagnosis were to come, that I am fully equipped to fight head on, like she did.

Of course, my larger hope is that I will only come up close and personal with breast cancer once a year–when I hold my breath, as the compression of the mammography machine squishes my flesh as flat as a pancake, and when my doctor, gives me an “All clear. See you next year.”

But, if there comes a time, when I am called to play the hand that my mother, and other women like her have been dealt, my prayer is that I will be able to meet it head on, without fear, and put cancer on the list as just one more thing that I have overcome.

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This post is dedicated to every woman who has been touched by breast cancer, and who has fought the good fight. May the cure be close at hand.

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With love and gratitude,

Stephanie