Ocean Avenue

Peering through the gaps between heads, she glimpsed the musicians on stage. But from where she stood, they were bobbing man shapes holding instruments. At least she hoped that’s what their hands gripped. Still, it was Yellowcard. And she’d finally seen them live. She crossed that off her bucket list, content to listen and people watch.

The Warped Tour provided lots to look at from half-naked patrons in neon body paint to band shirts featuring skulls, skeletons, and emoticons. Not to mention the slogans that delivered their messages in appalling grammar from the show booths. Add to that bands playing on three of the six stages erected in the parking lot of Jones Beach’s amphitheater and it was a feast for the ears too.

Content with her tiny slice of the action on stage, she bobbed to new songs she didn’t know and would likely forget to buy.

“…and to close our last Warped Tour, we’d like to go back to the album that started it all. It came out the summer of 2004…”

Her heart trip-hammered in her chest. She knew that album. One song in particular, she’d listened to so many times that she still recalled every damned word. The next two songs flowed past in a blur of sound and half-remembered choruses as she cartwheeled back to 2004. She’d been twenty-four that summer and finishing up her grad degree. And that song had played continuously from her car stereo–Ocean Avenue.

“There’s a place off Ocean Avenue where I used to sit and talk with you…”

And then the audience started singing it here, now, twelve years later. She shouted the words burned onto her broken heart along with them. But she wasn’t standing on Long Island steps from the Long Island Sound, buffeted by its breezes. No, she was back in her car on a street in New Jersey with the sun just coming up. And he was there.

“If I could find you now things would get better. We could leave this town and run forever. Let your waves crash down on me and take me away…”

She screamed the chorus at the top of her lungs, feet pounding the pavement as she jumped up and down. Part of her was back there in that car telling him that it was over. Dawn had poured molten gold down the streets of that nameless garden state town.

Reality’s waves had crashed down and taken her away from him, sucking her broken heart out to sea. Now she was singing, slinging all that pain at the stage and the band soaking it in, basking in it like reflected glory. Things wouldn’t be better if she found him again. He was a shadow, a stain on her past that time was finally washing clean.

His waves had crashed down her, but they hadn’t swept her away. They couldn’t. He wasn’t the ocean, just a shallow pond littered with broken glass. Every step into that cold murk had cut deep.

And now, back at the show, she was still singing, but not the same words as everyone else. No, she was singing an affirmation for her younger self.

“Let the waves crash down on me and take me away…” and into the wild applause she added, “from you.”

Then she turned on her heel and headed over to check out the next heavy metal act on the other side of the venue. As she walked, the past slid off her like water. The hope that he might find her again puddled on the asphalt behind her. She didn’t want his shadow staining her future.

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. This post is part of #BarAThon. Join the 7-day challenge here.

31 thoughts on “Ocean Avenue

  1. Powerful piece. She’s finally letting go and Forgetting a painful past. Realizing, as you write “he was not the ocean” only a “puddle.” The piece is so empowering, she’s reached a cross road and gone without his memories. Great writing Melinda.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You evoked such powerful imagery. I was there with her at the concert. And I loved the positive ending, like she was making a new start. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Simply brilliant the way you evoked such creative images from a seemingly normal concert scene. Excellent blending of emotions and nostalgia, coupled with pain and despair. This will stay with me for a while, especially the way Dawn poured molten gold on the streets. Stirring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s also autobiographical. She and I turned a corner at the concert. I wasn’t going to write it because I prefer not to write about myself. But the story begged to be told and I am a happy slave to my imagination, so here it is.

      Liked by 1 person

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