It took me ten hours to drive home for Thanksgiving break last Tuesday, but I knew it’d be worth it. In fact, sitting in dead-stopped traffic from the beginning of Virginia all the way up until the end of Maryland gave me some time to get my head together and plan some events for the following weekend.
I woke up late Wednesday morning to a house full of noisy chatter echoing up the staircase, coming from the eight other family members down for the weekend gathered in the kitchen for breakfast. When I finally opened my eyes enough and walked in the kitchen, deciding to join them, I looked down on the table to see homemade pancakes and bacon, and I knew it was going to be a good day.
Wednesday was a good day. I spent the whole day with my family, talking and catching up while we hung out around the house. But then my phone started buzzing incessantly around 9 PM. That was how I knew it was time for the night’s festivities.
At home, Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest nights of the year to go out. Even though I’ve never gone out on that night before, I knew this was so on account of my older cousins and brothers. When they were in their “prime,” it was a big thing for them to decide where they would hang out this night, who they would go with, what other stops they would make. My female cousins would spend hours planning their outfits and fixing their hair. And as I used to sit and watch them prepare for the night and debate and decide, all I used to think about was how they would manage to hold down the turkey and the other gluttonous amounts of food they would eat the next day at dinner. Well, I found out the next morning.
The night before Thanksgiving was a chilly one—chilly enough for me to tell the difference between the North Carolina weather I was used to and the Jersey weather from where I grew up. My friends and I decided to start the night off at Goodnight Irene’s. This…was a good decision.
We walked into Irene’s to blaring music and a full bar. People outlined the bar end to end, with another line started behind those people sitting in the stools, from others who just wanted to get the bartender’s attention. It was dim in there, with no walking room. The right side of the place was just as packed. No tables were empty, and the booths dotting the walls, usually meant to fit two people on each side, were jam-packed with as many as six. This didn’t bug me. I figured it would be busy because of what night it was.
Irene’s seemed like it was the place to be. Everyone from town was there—people you grew up with, went to high school with, played sports in the community with. It was like a reunion, and it was nice to see everyone and catch up, so nice that the night flew. By the time we looked at the clock, it was 1 AM, and we were late to go to our next stop.
We noticed a line outside of Echo’s Bar in North Wildwood when we hopped out of our cab. This was also expected. But the line moved quickly, and we only had to wait about five minutes outside in the freezing cold. Once we got in there, we scoped the out the situation.
Echo’s was more crowded than Irene’s. If I thought I saw everyone I could imagine from my past, Echo’s proved me wrong. All three bars in the place were mobbed, as well as the dance floor, with the DJ cranking out the newest jams, and the pool table area. There was no room to walk around, so my friends and I got drinks and decided to try our luck on the dance floor. And that’s where we stayed all night, dancing from everything from the “Cupid Shuffle” to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.”
After retiring to bed around 3 AM, I woke up six hours later to my baby nice laying next to me in bed, while my brother stood over us watching to make sure she didn’t roll off the bed. I have to say, I was feeling pretty good, and all those worries from when I was little about watching my brothers and cousins and wondering how I would hold down the food from our Thanksgiving feast melted away. Thanksgiving was a good day—the best, perhaps.