15 March, 2012

{this memory} 42

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Virginia - Virginia Beach, to be precise. 25th Street and Oceanfront, between Atlantic Avenue and the Boardwalk to be even more precise. You're looking at the Norwegian Lady.

There are two Norwegian Lady Statues. This one and one located in the sister city of Moss, Norway. They commemorate the lives lost in the 1891 shipwreck of the Norwegian barque Dictator off the coast of Virginia Beach and the lifesaving efforts of the community. She ran aground on a sandbar about 300 yards off of 37th Street. Nine of the 17 souls aboard were lost in the storm. Although the captain survived, his pregnant wide and young son were among those who died.

But that's not the memory. Growing up there, I found the Lady to be my sympathetic ear. Whenever life became frustrating - which is often for a teen, I would drive down to the Strip and visit my Lady. I saw her regularly. When I settled elsewhere - college, graduate school, job - I always returned to her whenever I was in town. Just for a visit.

Tourism has encroached on her a bit today, but she still stands resolute and still bears the inscription: "I am the Norwegian Lady. I stand here, as my sister before me, to wish all men of the sea safe return home."

My returns by sea to this area are few, maybe a half dozen; I am not a man of the sea as my father was. Yet her words strengthen me - even today. I miss her and the solitude I so often sought with her, and I look forward to my next visit to an old friend.

So many wonderful memories, and they truly are. I am a fortunate man.