Archives for posts with tag: Martha’s Vineyard

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

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20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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A few weeks ago my family, along with my two sisters and their families, spent a week at our childhood vacation spot, Martha’s Vineyard. Although I’ve been back for several weeks, I haven’t been able to blog about it because, to be honest, the vacation was too good. I’m having trouble finding a concise, interesting way to tell the tale of our week on this stunning island.

So, I won’t. I’ll just share my photos.

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It started off miserably. When we got to Wood’s Hole, it began to pour. The Weather Channel had tornado warnings for the area. Now this was a first for me. I can’t ever recall in my 50 years of going to Martha’s Vineyard, a rainy ferry ride. Maybe drizzle, but not these torrential rains.

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Luckily the skies cleared up enough for us to enjoy a very windy, but fun, ferry ride to the Island.

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Every morning, and I’m talkin’ early, my husband and I would walk into Edgartown, split a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich from the Dock Street Coffee Shop (which I highly recommend), and sit on the wharf and watch the day begin.

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South Beach was crazy. The water was so rough, I wouldn’t let my daughters go in past their knees. But when I was a kid? I would’ve been all in that, body surfing – and getting bamboozled – until my parents made me get out.

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The kid’s favorite town was Oak Bluffs, with the Flying Horses, the gingerbread cottages at the campgrounds, and of couse, the arcade. I admit it was always my favorite town as a kid too. I could ride the Flying Horses all night long.

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July Fourth was the best.

I usually dislike the 4th because there is so much pressure to do things; things which involve impossible parking, and crowds followed by fireworks and impossible parking and crowds trying to get home.

This year was a dream. Our house was within walking distance to both the parade and the fireworks – and when you’re walking with a cup? It makes for one fine Fourth o’ July.

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Typical....

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One day we spent on my cousin’s “private” beach – a strip of South Beach that is reserved for residents only. Oh, and you have to take a boat to get there. This is hubby, my sister, her daughter and my youngest enjoying the ride.

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I think we are all in agreement that our best day was close to our last…the day we spent at Gay Head. We go there to celebrate my mom’s life, and remember her passing. Her ashes were spread here more than 20 years ago, and it’s comforting to know she rests in such a magnificently beautiful spot.

Among the nudies.

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0706151206aOn our last full day there, Hubby, my neice Meaghan, and my girls mustered up the courage to jump off the Edgartown/Oak Bluffs bridge. I did this as a kid, but now? No f-in’ way.

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Before we knew it, we were packing the car and heading for the ferry. On the ride back to the mainland, we all agreed that it was the best vacation we’ve had in a long, long time. Maybe it was because we went somewhere different for a change. Or perhaps it was because my family really gets along with each other.

I think it was also because we DID a lot of things. When we go to my dads, we spend a lot of time at his house, at the pool, talking and hanging out. But on the Vineyard? We were out and about – not letting any time get wasted.

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We all want to go back. Now. Hubby admits he looks at the photos from the trip every couple of days.

And me? I’m playing the lottery. Cause I want to go back for a long, long time.

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Sorry I haven’t written in so long. And word to the wise – I probably won’t write much in the next week or so either.

See, we are heading up to Martha’s Vineyard. It’s the vacation place of my youth. I almost wrote “my family” vacation place, but it’s really not anymore.

That fact is readily obvious if you listen to my youngest. Her vacation place is her Pop Pop’s house in Florida; Disney, go-karts, Daytona, water parks.

But the Vineyard is a horse of a different color…and I’m not sure her rose colored glasses are on. She is seeing it as a total snore. It will be curious to see how this plays out…will she appreciate the beauty and the splendor of a New England Island or will she hate it because she has to *gasp!*

Unplug.

Yes – the house that my cousin is letting us stay in has no wifi. I actually don’t know if it has internet at all, but all my daughter had to hear is that she has no mine craft, Skype, or Five Nights of Freddie for 10 days.

Yes the world is coming to an end.

While I will miss my daily dose of Candy Crush (level 969, mind you) it will be good to unplug from Facebook for a week. I mean, I’ll post, and I’ll check statuses, when we are at a restaurant with wifi, but I won’t troll – there’s no time for that. I’ll be too busy walking the streets of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs – riding the Flying Horses…vying for the brass ring.

Unplugged. That could be pretty fucking cool for a week.

See you sometime after July 9th.

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For the past few years my sister and I have been trying to get back up to Martha’s Vineyard for our family summer vacation. It takes some early planning – we stay at my cousin’s rental house, and in order to secure a week before they are all spoken for, you need to get on the phone with her soon after the summer season is over.

My sister called me last night to let me know that the house is ours for a week, we are just not sure of the date yet. But it’s ours. We are going. My last trip to the Vineyard was in 2005 I think – the year Sasha locked herself in my cousin’s bathroom and we almost left the island out of sheer embarassment.

10 years is too long to be away. Way too long. My oldest has a mild recollection of our few trips there since her birth, but my youngest can’t remember a thing about my favorite summer place. It will all be new to her and I’m psyched that I can show it to her. Excited that both of my girls are going to form memories of the island that will stay with them forever.

Memories just like their mom has.

Memories of mornings at the beach, and afternoons at the bay. Memories of evenings spent walking through the streets of Edgartown or Oak Bluffs, your skin glowing from a day spent in the sun. Memories of eating ice cream on a wharf-side bench while feeling the ocean breezes flutter through your hair. Memories of riding the Flying Horses, mastering the art of grabbing more than one ring each time around.

I’m good at that – they are going to have to practice.

I can’t wait to make my reservations with the Steamship Authority. And to make the drive into Woods Hole, and wait in line for the ferry. Ah, the ferry. It’s a ride I cherish every year. The ride to the island, that is. The one back to the mainland isn’t nearly as much fun.

Oh man. I can’t wait.

Slide08_0070Growing up in northern New Jersey, it was almost a given that you would vacation somewhere along the Jersey shore. Unless, of course, you were me.

My dad? He didn’t like the Jersey shore. It was too commercial with its boardwalks and cheap motels, and you could be sure all we’d ever want to do as kids was head to some amusement pier. That could get pretty expensive with four kids.

When my family went on vacation, we headed north to Martha’s Vineyard, a little island off Cape Cod. My dad had first gone there with a friend from college back in the stone age, and he loved it’s rustic beauty and the fact that is was so unspoiled and natural. Once he married my mom and began spitting out kids, it became our summer vacation spot.

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The cliffs at Gay Head, many, many moons ago.

We’d usually head up in August. The drive up was always fun because we’d usually leave in the middle of the night. You have to take a ferry to get to Martha’s Vineyard, and if dad got a reservation on a boat leaving at 9 am, we had to leave Jersey at 2 am or so. I can remember going to sleep dressed in my shorts and a tank top so I could spring out of bed and get in the car when it was time to leave.

This was before the days of mandatory seat belts, and us kids would sleep in the back of the station wagon which was outfitted with blankets and pillows. We always stopped at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut where dad would get some coffee at Howard Johnson’s and we’d use the bathroom. Then it was back in the car and next thing you knew, we were in Wood’s Hole waiting in line for the ferry!

The ferry ride was another thing that made going to the Vineyard so special. You parked your car in the belly of the boat, and then scramble up the stairs to the deck, gather up a bunch of chairs and enjoy the ride. It takes about 30 minutes or so to reach the Island, and it was fun to try and guess whether the boat would dock in Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. I always hoped for Oak Bluffs.

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On the Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard with our friends the Moriellis. I am sitting on my mom’s lap in the background.

My dad would rent a house somewhere on the island – that in itself was an adventure. Some houses we got were great. Others? There’s a story of one house we rented when I was rather young that was infested with bugs. I got lost in the woods that summer too. That part I remember – I had followed our dog Alfie into the woods and before I knew it he was gone and I was surrounded by very tall trees. I can clearly remember looking up and seeing them tower over me – as if I were looking through a wide angle camera lens. My family found me eventually.

But when it came right down to it, the house didn’t matter all that much because we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there, especially when I was really young. Our typical day went like this; wake up, pack a lunch, head to the beach, stay there until 3 or so, head home, eat dinner and then walk/drive to town to shop or get ice cream.

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Driving in style on Chappaquiddick

They were blissfully long days filled with sand and sun and adventures that we just didn’t get to have in northern New Jersey. Take the photo above – the box attached to our station wagon was used to haul all of our luggage to the island – remember, us kids were sleeping in the back. But once it was emptied, it served as our penthouse view when we were on less populated areas of the island.

But there is a deeper element to our summers on the Vineyard that I’m not sure I’m a good enough writer to capture. Going there each year was both familiar and new. As the years would pass, things would change – a store you loved might have gone out of business, or a new restaurant would open and become a family favorite. It was constantly evolving as it gained popularity.

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The good house – I am the little thing in pink

Each summer, linked to a specific house we rented that year, holds it’s own set of memories. I can remember staying at an A-Frame house in the woods where my siblings and I invented the song “Bicycle Mary” inspired by a girl riding her bike down the dirt road. There was the beautiful pond-front home we got one summer (due to an error on our realtor’s part) where we could go crabbing right in our backyard. And there was the Amaral house, which had a pool table and was within easy walking distance to Edgartown. I think we rented that house three years in a row.

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You can’t climb on these cliffs anymore – but in our day it was nature’s jungle gym.

My memories are many and varied – it is impossible to put them all into one blog post. Going fishing with dad at 5 am and catching nothing but sea robins. Climbing the cliffs at Gay Head. My brother crashing our car hours before our ferry was to depart for the mainland. My sister Judy almost drowning and being saved by a handsome stranger. Trips to Chappaquiddick and the Dyke bridge. Half the family getting food poisoning from bad mussels at Giordanno’s. And hours and hours spent riding the Flying Horses carousel.

I always loved that carousel. Have you ever been on a carousel where you try to grab for the brass ring? It’s fun on several levels. The rings are metal, but the last one to come out is brass. If you get the brass ring, you get a free ride. As a kid I’d sit on the horse and let Dad grab the rings for me because my arms were to short to reach the holder. When was around 6 or so, my dad missed the brass ring and slammed his hand down on the horses head in frustration. Problem was, each horse is outfitted with a metal spike to hold your rings on. This spike went through my dad’s palm – we spent the next few hours in the parking lot outside the hospital.

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Me at the Flying Horses – circa 1982

But as a teenager, The Flying Horses was a place to meet guys and show off your ring grabbing skills. My sister was the best at it, but I could grab 5 or 6 rings each time around. The crowds that were waiting for their turn in line would ooh and ahh as you tried to snatch grab as many rings as you could. By the end of the first week my fingernails were ragged stubs, but I had caught the brass ring at least a dozen times.

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For years the foyer of The Island movie theater had this mini tribute to Jaws.

Then there was the summer 1975 – the summer of Jaws. Anyone who saw Jaws in the theater knew how scary it was back then. I saw it in the theaters – at the Island in Oak Bluffs to be exact. Do you have any idea how hard it was to swim on the same beach you saw Alex Kintner get chewed up into little bits on the big screen just the night before? The fame of the movie did ruin the island for a few years, though. Businesses who had changed their signs to read “Amity” whatever for the sake of the movie kept those signs up to lure customers. It became a little cheesy after a while – especially after Jaws 3 came out.

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See if you can guess what I am now…
A disrespectful teenager!

I did my fair share of hitch-hiking on the island too. Dangerous? I didn’t seem to be back then. My parents thought it was easier than having to drive me to and from town, especially when we rented a house that wasn’t in walking distance to civilization. I made friends that way too. Many of the folks who gave me rides were islanders and knew all the cool, unknown spots. That’s how I was able to find Belushi’s grave. It’s in a small cemetary up island, and the average Joe back then wouldn’t know where to look. I’m a tad ashamed of the above photo – sitting on someone’s tombstone isn’t exactly showing respect, but I was a dumb kid and wanted to be cool. Maybe it’s no accident that the photo is such crappy quality.

MV 6I went to Martha’s Vineyard for a week or more almost every summer until I was in my 20’s. I remember one year when I was living in Arkansas, my mom called and said they were getting ready to leave for the Vineyard in a day or two. I cried for a week knowing that they were up there and I couldn’t be with them. That might have been my first summer away from the Island.

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Edgartown Light House

Many times other families came up with us. Dad was always trying to convince someone to invest in a house with him, and I’ll never understand why nobody would. I bet they are all kicking themselves now. What you could buy for $60,000 back then is worth 10 times that now.  He did manage to cause a cousin of ours to fall in love with it. She and her husband now own two houses up there.

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The gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs

I’ve only been back to the Vineyard 3 times since getting married in 1994. The first time I was pregnant with my first born – we went up there to spread my mother’s ashes. We’ve brought our children up there twice since then, but the last time was too long ago; probably 6 years. We keep trying to plan a trip every summer, but something always goes wrong. Being unemployed doesn’t help – it’s super expensive to go there, even if you have family to stay with.

I really hope I make it back up there again. Yet, when we go up now, it’s a vacation too jam packed with activities we have to fit in before the week is up. I rarely get a glimpse of places and things I remember before it’s time to move on to the next photo op. And my husband? He doesn’t really get it, and that sort of detracts some of the joy for me.

MV 2I’d love to stay for a month, and take my time to retrace so many steps I’d taken over the first two decades of my life. A month…walking the streets of Edgartown, wandering along South Beach, maybe going topless at Gay Head. Oh, and I’d ride the Flying Horses over and over again. My fingers would bleed, but it would be worth it. I’d have caught life’s brass ring.

I am not, by any means, a fighter.

In high school there was a group of girls who picked on me during my freshman year, and I didn’t dare stand up for myself for fear that it would result in a fight. The thought of fighting scared me. I would have dreams (and still do, as a matter of fact) that I was in a fight and although swinging mightily, would either fail to hit my opponent completely, or only graze their nose or cheek with my fist, causing no real impact. It was very frustrating.

It wasn’t until the summer before my senior year in high school that I had my first real fight, if you even want to call it that. A fight usually requires two people throwing punches, otherwise,  it’s just called getting your ass-kicked. But I’ll always refer to it as my one true fight because I did not back down, nor did I run away. I just never threw a physical punch.

My family and I were staying on Martha’s Vineyard for 3 weeks, and I quickly reconnected with my summer friends who either lived on the island or vacationed the same time I was there. My favorite town on the island was Oak Bluffs as it had more to offer in the way of amusements. In true early 80’s fashion, there was an arcade on Circuit Avenue where I would spend hours on the Ms. PacMan machine. Oak Bluffs also had The Flying Horses, which is one of the nation’s oldest running carousels.

I mashed many a finger into this contraption.

I know, riding a merry go round sounds lame, but this one had the added allure of grabbing the rings. Each time your horse went around, you could catch rings out of this mechanical arm. The last ring is brass and if you get that, you get a free ride. It was a great way for me to totally show off as I was quite good at grabbing the rings. While most folks grabbed one each time around, I could grab up to 6 at one time and the crowd would ooh and ahh. I usually left there with bloody cuticles and a swollen ego.

During the course of this vacation, I kept running into this one guy at the arcade. He was cute, and he flirted with me whenever he saw me, and I have to admit, I flirted back. My friends had warned me that he had a girlfriend, but as I was not really interested in him on any serious level, I just blew it off. However, Oak Bluffs is a small town, and I guess this gal had gotten the word that her boyfriend had been smiling and flirting with some summer girl – namely me.

The night of the fight, my sister drove me to Oak Bluffs in our puke green Pontiac Catalina. She had other plans that night, and was to drop me off at the Flying Horses and pick me back up at 11 pm or so. I was clad in a lavender jumpsuit complete with zippered pockets and Candie’s sandals; my blonde hair pulled up in a tight ponytail. Before the fashion police come and lock me up, try to remember…it’s the early 80’s.

I hopped out of the car and immediately joined my little gang of friends outside the Flying Horses. I turned to look down the street and saw a very mad, very determined girl storming towards me. In the span of a few split seconds, a couple of thing went through my mind. First, I was assuming this was the girlfriend of my cute arcade dude, and I was probably going to get in trouble. Secondly, I looked to see if my sister was still anywhere in sight – perhaps stuck at the red light. It was then I spotted the tail end of our Catalina slide around the corner and out of sight., and realized that I had absolutely no back up.

As she barreled towards me, I prepared for the worst, but apparently not the type of “worst” my brain could imagine. I was fully expecting a shouting match to ensue, but first this gal wanted a piece of me. With flat, open palms she shoved me full-force in the chest. Not being prepared for any sort of physical assault, and being clad in Candies sandals, I naturally went flying. My tanned & jumpsuited body sprawled onto the hood of a parked car, and my can of diet Sprite, which I had just opened, went airborne.

Ok, game on.

I got up, marched over to her and decided that she was about to get a major dose of her own medicine. I pushed her in a similar fashion, shouting, “What the fuck is YOUR problem?” Now this should have been totally cool. I NEVER stood up to anyone like this, but everyone was watching, and I was pissed that I lost my Diet Sprite. I was waiting for her to respond with some like taunt or threat, but this bitch meant business.

Without uttering a single syllable in reply, she hauled off and hit me square in the mouth. I can remember seeing a little spittle of blood fly, and I definitely remember seeing a flash of white light upon impact. But the most astounding thing was it didn’t hurt. Whether it be adrenaline or denial, the fist hitting my mouth did not seem to hurt, which was good because she wasn’t done.

She started screaming, “You’re a fucking whore! You’re a fucking whore!” to which I cooly replied “If someone called YOU a whore, you could take it as a compliment.”

BAM! Punch #2 to the mouth. Still no pain. I looked her in the eye and said evenly, “Don’t blame me if you’re too ugly to keep your boyfriend.”

Now, why I decided to turn into Don Rickels rather than Rocky Balboa, I’ll never know. It just never occurred to my body or brain to throw a punch. She went fairly wild at my last wise crack, and probably would’ve knocked my teeth out if my friends had not intervened. They got between us, which is to say they kept her from killing me.

In any case, I felt refusal to fight worked in my favor – after it was broken up, she looked like a real loser. Most of my friends were Islanders who knew her, and frankly told her that she should think twice about bothering  me and instead turn her fists on her flirt of a boyfriend. She stalked off, and my friends and I walked to the beach.

We sat on the stone wall over looking the shore, and I held a cold beer bottle to my lip in an attempt to keep the swelling down. She actually did very little damage – I had no fat lip or bruises. My friends gave me the requisite sympathetic hugs and pats on the back. We talked about what a bitch she was, and I admitted that it was my first fight, and that for the life of me I could not figure out why I never hit her back.

I ran into cute arcade dude later that night. He approached me to apologize, but I never game him the chance. I told him to fuck off and slapped him across the face.

I saw her one other time during that summer. As I was walking through town, I noticed the happy couple walking in my direction on the same side of the street.  At first I was panic-stricken, and I’ll admit that the thought of crossing the street or better yet, running away, crossed my mind. But I held my position, and we positively glared at each other as we passed, her boyfriend pointedly making an effort to hold her close to him.

And that’s the story of my first, and thankfully, only fight. I still have the same dream where I can’t quite seem to punch my opponent, and it’s still hugely frustrating for me. But at least I know I can stand my ground, even if I all I fight back with is witty retorts.