Philadelphia Pa – Autumn, 2020
“Hunt’s Pier… I’m way up here and I don’t know how to get down there and be close enough to you. I don’t know if I can write about you. Look how far away I am from you now.”
I had been wanting to write this piece two years ago when I was writing Wildwood Daze. I actually made a post that said I couldn’t write about Hunt’s Pier because it was too big and rich a story. It still is. I just don’t think at the time I was ready to write it.
Hunt’s Pier is an amusement pier that stood for many years on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey. I’ll delve into some family at the seashore history and then get on with my experiences. I worked there on one of the rides for the 1980-1981 seasons. I’ll do my best to recall my memories from that time.
But here we are in the midst of a global crisis. I’m trapped at home. I’ve been in lockdown since March 2020. The last few years of my life have been one long social exploration. But here I was stuck at home. But there was income rolling in. So what does a creative soul do with that newfound freedom?
I publish Crazy Dating Stories. I write and publish Angel with a Broken Wing. I publish Phicklephilly 2, and then Sun Stories. I write a hard-boiled detective novel to be published in June. It was a very busy time creatively for me.
But as Autumn approached I could feel the darkness gliding in. All my books were done. There was about a month there where I had nothing to create or work on. My routine was broken.
Now what? I’m worried about my unemployment running out. The stimulus money has dried up. The fear is beginning to seep in. And so is its favorite mate. Depression.
It never got bad, and will never again. I’ve made an agreement with my anxiety and depression to stay in their rooms until further notice. But sometimes they find the keys to their rooms or slip out the door.
I know what to do when they come for me. Eat, get your rest, and make a new routine. But you have to do something to celebrate to drop that dopamine to keep you on the rails.
I think we all have put on a little Covid weight during this idle time. I know I did. I went up a pants size, and once I cut my hair and shaved off my beard I realized I’d chubbed up, but not in a good way.
I should go out and get some exercise. So I started to walk 5 miles a day, every day. It really hurt physically after being sedentary for 7 months. But I would go out and get my breakfast sandwich, and then head toward the Delaware River. It was 5 miles up and back from where I lived. I would create a pattern. I’ll walk different streets every day to keep it interesting. Market, Chestnut, Sansom, Walnut, Locust, and so on. You get the idea.
I did it and it really beat me up. But I kept at it.
Here’s what I found. I started to feel better mentally and physically and got better at both. I could feel the clouds in the sky of my mind beginning to clear.
My brain started to drop the endorphins, serotonin into my system. That stuff works and feels great. It just gave me more energy and a happier state of mind.
Because I felt better I started to want to create again. Something original. Something from my past. That would be easy. You’re not making any new memories, turn inward and search your memories for the stories you wanted to tell before and never could because you were too busy.
And I did.
Once I began writing the deeper stories I was rewarded with dopamine. My favorite drug in the world. I should get the chemical symbol tattooed on my body. The endorphins and serotonin from exercise gave me the happiness and energy to start again. The positive energy to venture into some classic memories locked away in the rooms of my mind.
I started to write and it really started to flow. Once I finished a classic piece I could feel the dopamine dropping, and it lit me up to go on.
So even during this dark time I found a way out of the grey sadness and turned it into a dozen colorful balloons. I’m just going to keep doing this until this pandemic ends.
Hunt’s Pier was reborn in me and I’ve made a solid effort to bring it to you starting this week. It will run every Thursday for the next couple of months.
I hope you like it. I just thought I should check-in and let you know.
If you’re feeling the darkness, there’s always a way to find your way back to the light.
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