It’s my wife’s birthday this week and per our custom, she expressed a relevant wish to see the sun rise at Coney Island. Past efforts have been thwarted by weather, sickness, indifference, travel, and other interventions, seemingly divine and otherwise, but this year we made it and it was delightful. Not only did it fulfill a birthday wish extending back for a decade or more, but I hadn’t been there since I was a boy.
My father is a NYC native (Kingsbridge, Bronx — like any diligent New Yorker of his generation, he’ll be happy to tell you what made it both a harder and a better place to be from) and we made roughly annual visits to our family here and in New Jersey until I was 18 or so.
The trip to Coney Island was in 1977, maybe, or 1978. My uncle, my father, my brother and I went together to visit the Aquarium. There is a single photo from that trip, of my brother and me on a breaker, smiling from the relative high ground of the rocks. I wore a shirt with a 3 on it, a non-sequitur. That is, the number was not that of a favorite athlete or anything. Just a 3. It became, however, the title of the photograph, which my family refers to as The Three Picture, and in due time a personally-identifying numeral between my wife and me. Over the years she has bought me all manner of printed material featuring single 3s, some of which hang above my desk at this very moment. As it happens, unfortunately, I cannot right now find the photograph of origin. When I do, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, if you have a chance, please wish Kimberley a happy birthday.