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Beach Haven Heaven

By Naomi Serviss


Naomi & Lew Serviss and post-storm rainbow
Naomi & Lew Serviss and a post-storm rainbow

When I was ten, my friend Terri invited me to spend a week


at her family’s Beach Haven summer place,

down the shore.


Down the shore


is how Philadelphians describe going to a New Jersey beach.


Terri also unkindly let me know I was her second choice,


after her first pal bailed.


Still, a week down the shore would be dreamy and I was grateful.



Beach Haven has long been our family’s Shangri-la.


We’ve beachcombed, been lulled by the endless surf


and struck seashell gold with intact clam shells and mysterious driftwood.


Once we found a wayward starfish that we coaxed back into the sea.


Emmy loved eating at Jeffy’s because,

as the window placard stated:

There’s Something for Everyone!


One September, we had to hightail it home

because of an impending hurricane.


It’s a gamble going off-season, but the rewards often outweigh the risk.


Lew and I have started a new family tradition, three years running.


Just us so far.


One day with the kids.


A few years ago, I researched and found


a no-frills, immaculate, three-story beachfront motel.


The reviews of it on assorted travel sites cinched the deal.


A family-run operation for decades.


It’s the perfect location, with Barnegat Lighthouse at one end,


a nature preserve on the opposite.


We fell in love with this Beach Haven nest

from the moment we set foot


in the cheerful, light-flooded room.


A balcony overlooked the crashing waves,

salt spray doused the crisp air.


After this past year of discontent, we counted

the days until September 20th.


Our never-ending light and sound show

was just outside the screen door.


Sunrises were magnificent.


Lew, a nocturnal sort,

appreciated each daybreak.


The first night’s full moon

stunned with its looming presence.


The ocean’s symphony calmed

and reassured us.


A sign of hope for

mistreated Mother Earth.


We lucked out weather-wise, rained just once,

and were rewarded with a fully arching rainbow

across the sky.


The whole gestalt turned us into

giddy teenagers, grateful to be

in the moment.


Simple pleasures like an extra-large coffee


and an indescribably delicious oversized pretzel wowed.


A treasure found was an Australian-made hat

with SPF 50 built-in.


It wasn’t about the stuff.


Granted, the lobster roll was beyond amazing.


Lew’s tuna tacos were spot-on.


Our four nights sped by.


I have nearly finished Hayley Mills’

memoir and am shocked!


Shocked!


Hayley was a child actor who rocketed to

stardom in Tiger Bay when she was merely 12.


Her father, the venerable actor John Mills,

eased her initial nervousness.


She was a natural performer, unaffected and

sincere.


Then Disney.


It’s a terrific read, especially

for fans.


These past five days were a tonic.


Away from the constant drilling,

hammering, honking, air horns

and rowdy ATV drivers on West 96th Street.


Our moods lightened and our breathing seemed to

sync with the sea’s ebb and flow.


We’re holding onto the feeling.


Small shells strung on dental floss

now hang from a wooden blind in front of my

laptop.


I can still see that 10-year-old girl


whose passion for life


was ignited one summer


by a salty breeze and a rising tide.









Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com

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