Arriving in Atlantic City
Atlantic City may be known to some as the Poor Man’s Vegas, but, to me, it was a home away from home. We arrived when it was dark, which, if you’ve been following my stories, doesn’t come as a surprise. Seeing as I planned my extensive road trip over a month before departing, each day still came as a surprise to me, too.
I pulled into the driveway of a mansion one block away from the beach as my accommodating host ran outside to greet me. And when I say accommodating, I MEAN accommodating. We had a bit of laundry to do from the previous days of travel and he sincerely would not let us do it ourselves. After handing over a bag of dirty clothes that he insisted on washing, our host gave us a wonderful dinner recommendation just a walk away.
Dinner Down the Block
After not eating much during our days worth of explorations, it was safe to say I was hungry. Everything on the menu looked good that I wish instead of choosing, I could’ve had one bite of each. This is probably why I resorted to the appetizer list for finding dinner. Opting for the spinach and artichoke dip and some truffle fries, I was set up to have a disgustingly delicious and non-nutritious meal. However, with this meal came a need to walk. Settling up with the waitress, we were out of there as soon as we’d come, and on our way to the boardwalk.
“When you get to the end of the street, to the right is all of the rich houses and to left is the way you’ll actually want to explore,” my hosts directions rang in my head as we took a left onto the boardwalk.
I could hear the waves crashing in on the shore, although it was too dark to see them at this point. It was around eleven and being the offseason as well as a weeknight, there weren’t too many people on the boardwalk. However, those that were on it were screaming their existence loud and proud.
The People Of The Night
A woman who wasn’t quite right in the head was crazily pushing an empty stroller down the boardwalk, peeping a sneaky side smile at me as she zoomed by, as if I was in on the joke. A drunk man wearing a jersey ran up the side, as his wife hid her face in embarrassment. Three club girls set up their iPhone on a trash can, getting in formation to make a TikTok.
A large box of presumably new clothing was being carried on a guy’s shoulder, as he called out a 4 for $20 sweater sale. A man stopped him waving his girlfriend over, hoping to buy her a new wardrobe for a bargain. She didn’t bite. These were the people of Atlantic City. They were eccentric and bold and allegedly night owls, but they made the city come alive.
We walked all of the way down to the casino, turning around after thirty minutes or so of strolling, just to do it again on the way back. I noticed the boardwalk itself had a tale to tell. The boards seemed to be short in some areas and long in others, the nails in a loopy pattern rather than a straight line. The closer we got to the rich houses as our host described them, the straighter and more prim the boardwalk seemed to get. I took it as a metaphor, although I haven’t decided which way it sways on the positive/negative spectrum yet. It was all about perspective.
A Sunrise in Atlantic City
This is why, at the crack of dawn, we returned to the beach to check out the flip side. Now, the boardwalk was filled with early risers, getting their jogs in before the day began. We tiptoed into the sand, headed toward the water with a steaming coffee in hand. Sunsets are great, but sunrises are for you and you only.
I watched as the empty shoreline transformed from black to blue to yellow, making sure to hit every color in between. These were the true colors of Atlantic City. They were pink like the sweaters being sold the night before and gold like an emoji on the slot machines. It was orange like the cigarette butts being lit outside of the casino and blue like the boardwalk trolley cart. Every time I looked up from the waves, I saw a new color and a new meaning. I’m sure every person we’d crossed on the boardwalk had a meaning of their own, too.
Back at the house, our host had woken up and was busy reading The New Yorker. A woman came downstairs, offering us a bite from her batch of organic pumpkin cookies that just seemed to melt in our mouths. It wasn’t long before I had a new friend on social media and a recipe in my inbox. We chatted over coffee of her occupations and past lives, before getting back on the road again. Oh, and by the way, I changed my mind. The sky was orange like cookies for breakfast.
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