We had planned to host our annual Mexicanukah earlier this week, but Ella was sick. We postponed it twice, then decided the best idea would be to meet friends at the park this morning. I even had the grandiose idea of making homemade doughnuts to share at the playground. Then, last night ended up being a big night for me, I felt like I really broke through a lot walls that have been holding me back. I know I seem to share everything here, but don’t worry, I won’t subject you to every detail of my emotional journey (just most of them). This morning rolled around and I knew from the moment I opened my eyes that the doughnuts were not even remotely happening. I got in touch with friends about the tentative plans we had to meet up at the park and received a lot of “We’ll try to make it!” which is usually more than enough incentive for me to head to the place and time and take things as they come. Today though, I needed something guaranteed. A real, fun, cathartic experience of some kind. When my new friend from Vancouver said she was at the beach with her family and invited us to join them I knew I had to drop everything and run to the water. Sincere apologies to anyone I cancelled on today. Thankfully the beach day was everything I hoped it would be, and more.
As we drove up the A1A, a road that runs north and south along the coast through several towns, we saw the full range of Florida beach experience. There were high rise hotels and luxury apartment buildings, mansions with absurd facades mixing clashing architectural styles, beautifully classic beach estates, family oriented parking lots with beach access, and finally, Hollywood Beach. It is the Seaside Heights or maybe Point Pleasant of this area, without the rides. There is a boardwalk (not actually wood) with stores advertising airbrushed tee-shirts saying things like, “Keep Calm and Get Swag.” What does that even mean!? Obviously Ben reeeally wanted one. I said no, he wanted to know why, and I didn’t quite know what to say. I went with something along the lines of, “I….don’t have….any….money with me today…” which was kind of true. Mo stepped in and said “Because you already have a shirt. Look, you’re wearing a shirt right now.” Thankfully Mo always knows what to say when I don’t and vice versa.
On our way to Hollywood we passed a friendly looking parking lot with a playground nestled in a wooded area and Mo and I both wondered why our friend who also has two small children wouldn’t have decided to go to this beach. When we arrived in Hollywood and saw the full weirdness of 1950’s and 60’s architecture, alley ways with Mexican restaurants, bars with live music in full swing at midday on a Sunday, and the totally oddball mix of characters, we were completely sold and grateful that our friends had brought us here. It combined many things that we loved about the Bronx and Nachlaot, plus the beach. We were so happy in the glorious weirdness, I felt a little bit like I was in a David Lynch movie. Except I wasn’t in a strange and slightly scary film, I was having an awesome beach day with my family!
I went swimming with my friend and we floated and chatted while the dad’s stood on the shore holding the babies and supervising the frolicking kids. It was so delightful and I was full on happy. Even though I love the ocean, a beach trip with kids feels like such an endeavor to me so we have only been once since we got here in August. I’m glad we followed our instincts and went for it today.
On top of being totally, enjoyably strange, the boardwalk also had an organic produce market and juice bar. It seemed great until we waited 45 minutes and never did receive the smoothie we ordered. We ended up with a shot of wheat grass and two tiny free smoothie samples so I was fine with getting my money back and going on with the day.
The produce market was lovely. I now have all the kale I could ever want, and the makings of a delicious eggplant parmesan.
There was a random abandoned mall on the boardwalk. I wandered through it’s corridors to find a restroom and was strongly reminded of Binyan Klal next to the shuk in Jerusalem. It is really just another poorly lit abandoned mall from another time, with one or two hidden cafes frequented by regulars and avoided by everyone else.
All in all, the day felt life affirming, and just generally meant to be.
Shavua tov (good week)!