Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1977 – Terri – First Love – Part 4

Whats great about this is… taking a photograph freezes time. Time is fluid. Always changing. But in this moment I still have not only the memory, but an image from my past frozen in time forever.

The next morning was overcast. I was feeling sick. Not a head cold, but actually physically ill. I didn’t know at the time but I sort of knew. This week I had felt the rush of first love wash over me like the sea itself. Warm, soft waves carrying me aloft in euphoric bliss.

And now the crushing reality that my love was leaving to go home today. I was nauseous. This was a mix of anxiety and depression twisting together in my gut like a ball python.

Terri and her family were packing up the car, and I went to say goodbye. I took a seat and her brother took a photo of us together. I’m broken in the picture. She looks lovely, laughing at life.

I kiss her goodbye and I know something has changed in me. I will live with this for the rest of my life. I’ll carry Terri’s memory like a tear inside my heart.

Their station wagon rolls out of the parking lot and she’s gone. I go into the office and tell my boss that’s I’m sick. I don’t know if he senses what’s really wrong with me, and as I write this I wish I knew. He gets some pepto bismol, (A pink liquid that you drink and it’s suppose to settle your stomach) He administers a tablespoon like a parent. I take it and I know it’s not going to work. He tells me to just go home if I’m sick. I thank him, and walk behind the motel and proceed to vomit the pink liquid into the grass.

I’m ruined inside.

I walk west on 10th street. I was afraid to go home because I thought if my mom found out I didn’t work I was screwing up again. I was just love-sick. I cross Surf, Atlantic and get to Central Avenue. I walked to the middle of the block and sit down on the curb. I look down into the dirt on the street. There’s a colony of tiny ants just going about their day in Wildwood. gathering food, tending to young, and building shelter. Completely unaware that they live on a 5 mile island packed with 5000 tourists, and the Atlantic Ocean is just 5 blocks away. They’ve never seen the boardwalk and all its wonder, or ever met a girl, and fallen in love in a week and felt the heartbreak of loss almost in 24 hours. They’re just doing their thing.


I start to cry.

Is this what love is? Chance, euphoria, anxiety, exhilaration and then crushing sadness?

I didn’t know that at the time, because this was my maiden voyage into the foray of love, but this was to be my litany for the next 40 years. A cycle of highs and lows that would hunt me like a wolf through middle age. A drug I would crave only to become an addict that was always trying to get clean from the rush of love. But I would relapse again and again with different women. The thing I loved most would ruin my life. I would lay upon beauty and it would dash me to the ground and grind me into powder.

Again and again.

And it would all be by my own hand.

Terri and I kept in touch for the next year through letters. That’s what people did back then. They took pen to paper and wrote down their thoughts and feelings to another person. Then they sealed it in an envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on it, and dropped it in a mailbox. Three to five days later the other person got that letter, read it and then in good time responded with the same. Hard to believe that’s how it was done for hundreds of years. Now you can simply text, “Hey.”

I still have those letters. I’m going to dig them out and read them if I can. I’m sure it’ll provide me with some insight to this journey.

I recently uncovered this photo. It was taken of us the day she left. I had to tape the two pieces back together because I cut me out of the photo and carried her picture around in my wallet for a year. Here’s that old photo, and what she wrote on the back when she sent it to me in her first letter! (Look at that lovely girl!)

My first love.

Whats great about this is… taking a photograph freezes time. Time is fluid. Always changing. But in this moment I still have not only the memory, but an image from my past frozen in time forever.


I cut the photo in half so I could carry Terri with me in my wallet after she left.

Here’s what was written on the back of that photo.

Here’s a bracelet she sent me.

I wore it every day for over a year.


Take it away boys…


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Author: phicklephilly

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5 thoughts on “Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1977 – Terri – First Love – Part 4”

  1. Funny about the concept of an island. My love and marriage of 30 years was both preceded, and has been followed, by various fleeting friendships with different women. It was, in its way a love island.

    1. Thank you so much! It meant so much to tell this sweet story. There is so much on the way. I appreciate you taking the time to follow back with me into my young forward journey. 🙌🏻

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