Love, The Lovers, And The Race Street Pier

There are coincidences, and then there are coincidences.  The latter type are so weird and unexpected even a fervent skeptic such as myself might be led to murmur a mighty “Mmmmm, I wonder . . .

The most potent examples of unusual coincidences that I’ve personally come across began making their appearances not long after my wife Sandy and I moved into our suburban Philadelphia home. We set down stakes here in 2005 and soon met quite a few of the occupants of other houses on the block. Some of the adults lived alone, but most were couples of the heterosexual variety, with children. Proverbially happy couples, I believed. That’s why you could have knocked me over with a sturdy feather when next-door neighbor Tony [his and all other neighborly names have been changed to protect the innocent and/or guilty] told me in 2006 that his wife Diane had moved out and that they were divorcing. Huh? Well, you rarely really know what’s going on behind closed doors, right? I was sorry to see Diane go.

A few years later things went south fast for the next-door folks on the other side of our house. Tom and Nicole each let me know that they had decided to divorce, but that in the interim they would remain within the same abode. That arrangement went on for a while. Then Nicole moved away. The finalized divorce followed. Sandy and I scratched our heads, amazed that a second couple had gone down for the count.

Well, four years ago love disintegrated once again on my street. The victims were Bob and Yvonne, the pair living directly opposite from Sandy’s and my front door. They too remained within their abode, how I don’t know, while the wheels of divorce spun. A year later they sold their house, each moving elsewhere. Their divorce became legal soon after that.

Holy crap, what was going on? Had Sandy and I moved into Divorce Epicenter? Well, maybe, because the pattern continued. The new occupants of the house directly across the street saw to that. A year and a half after moving in, Horace moved out. Joan is still there. But there’s little chance of the two getting back together. They have divorced.

Incredible, no? But what can you say? Love is a complicated emotion. It ain’t easy to manage. It can be strong as granite. Or not.

A new movie, The Lovers, is a shining example of all of that, except for the granite part. Sandy and I watched it on the big screen a few weeks ago. It isn’t playing in many theaters anymore, but if it hasn’t yet made its way to Netflix and the like, undoubtedly it will before long.

Azazel Jacobs, who has had a nice cinematic career but has yet to hit it big, wrote and directed The Lovers. In the movie, Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) are a very confused, long-married couple that has grown apart. They have tired of one another   Yet they live together. And, strangely, they sleep together, though on opposite sides of the bed, never touching for most of the movie. Each has found romance outside the home — Michael with Lucy (Melora Walters), and Mary with Robert (Aiden Gillen). Both Michael and Mary have promised to their flames that they will move in with them. But first they will have to spill the beans to their legal mates. That process is slow. Painfully slow. And it becomes complicated by the fact that far along the way Mary and Michael rediscover some smidgeons of the feelings that ages ago had brought them together.

Now, I liked The Lovers. But it sure paints a cynical picture of the human heart. Love comes. Love goes. Love can’t make up its mind. Love roils and muddies the waters. Is this the way it is out there for a hefty percentage of people in the real world, or merely a broad and comic exaggeration? I’m not someone with good answers to those questions. But I will say this: Twelve years ago I sure as hell wouldn’t have believed it possible for four couples living within spitting distance of me to call it quits.

That’s enough about love partly or fully on the rocks. It’s time to turn our attention to that which might have the power to keep love whole. And in Philadelphia I know of no better medicine for such than a visit, at night after the stars have come out, to the Race Street Pier. It’s a former commercial dock that has been repurposed and transformed, an example of tax dollars well-spent. Now it’s a public park, full of trees and lawn areas and wide walkways. It opened six years ago. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which spans the Delaware River, connecting Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey, towers above the park. When darkness has fallen the bridge looks magnificent, glowing with thousand of lights that decorate its length. What a sight.

Race Street Pier and Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Sandy and I were on the pier a few weeks ago with our pals Cindy and Gene. The skies were clear, a perfect breeze tousled our Sassoon-worthy hairdos, and the bridge presented a commanding presence. For an hour we chatted while looking at the bridge, the boat traffic on the Delaware River and the lights in Philadelphia and Camden.

Race Street Pier is mutedly lit at night, and it’s not overrun with visitors. A more atmospheric and romantic urban place in which to spend some moments you’d be hard-pressed to find. The four of us fell under the evening’s spell, that’s for certain. And the spell was powerful, irresistible. Eventually, though,  we had to leave, what with early morning hours fast approaching and our internal gas tanks running a bit low. We said goodbye to Race Street Pier, till next time. The two couples then bid one another adieu and made their ways to their respective homes.

(Don’t be shy about sharing this article or about adding your comments. Thanks.)

(Photos by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin. If you click on any photo, a larger image will open)

40 thoughts on “Love, The Lovers, And The Race Street Pier

  1. Joyce Hamilton June 29, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Glad you are not joining the divorce epidemic! Keep on kissing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. byebyebeer June 29, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Very cool bridge photo. That movie sounds intriguing. I wonder sometimes if the secret to staying married is not choosing to divorce. Not always an option, though statistics on second marriages are discouraging. Marriage is a funny thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 10:33 am

      In regard to your final sentence: That’s for sure!


    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 10:36 am

      Hi. Thanks for stopping by.
      I’m not sure that it’s a must-see. But it’s definitely worth seeing. There’s a lot to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Artist's Child June 29, 2017 / 9:12 am

    Sounds like you have an interesting street and that movies do imitate life. In our family, three of our first cousins are divorced, two in the same family, and all have remarried. Three good friends are also divorced. In some cases there were affairs and movie-like scenarios. There is a lot of it going around so your street is a microcosm. No wonder there is so much material for films, sometimes involving picturesque bridges!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 10:40 am

      Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      I suppose I shouldn’t have been amazed by the divorces on my block. In fact, there probably have been others that I don’t know about.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alyson June 29, 2017 / 9:53 am

    Well, luckily our neighbourhood has remained (almost) divorce free but I can’t say the same for my address book – It has been decimated over the years with few of the couples originally entered in it still together – I have my own views on why this is the case but perhaps not for the comments boxes.

    Like the sound of the movie as haven’t been to see it yet although ironically last weekend I went to see My Cousin Rachel, the other one on the bill. Very Daphne du Maurier but no Rebecca I’m afraid. Still featured that old chestnut love though, and all the complications it can bring.

    Love Sandy’s picture of the bridge – Keep having nights out like that and all will be well on the romance front at “Yeah, Another Blogger” Towers. Just look after those Sassoon-worthy hairdos! Great Wednesday post as ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 10:45 am

      Hi, Alyson.
      I’ll let Sandy know that you love the bridge photo. The Race Street Pier really is a great place to relax in. Especially at night.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. sniderjerry June 29, 2017 / 10:05 am

    The secret is to keep romance alive. Like the great Henny Youngman, “I take my wife everywhere but she always finds her way back.” Regina and I have been married 34 years – 17 for her and 17 for me = 34. We had an argument last week and she said never judge her until I walk a mile in her shoes. That’s how I found out I like wearing high heels. I told mt psychiatrist and it turns out he likes to wear them too. Now he and I are going dancing next week. but seriously folks, as a wise man said long ago, “No matter what the question is, love is the answer.” Be kind – have a great day. Thanks as always for the great essay and picture. Jerry

    Liked by 3 people

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 10:48 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Jerry.
      The Youngman quip is a classic!


  6. Almost Iowa June 29, 2017 / 10:53 am

    I worked with a woman from China whose marriage was arranged when she was a teen. When I knew her she was well into her fifties and was as happily marriage as anyone else. She said that her marriage worked because her and her husband went through all their angst and adjustments upfront and love came along later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 11:10 am

      Hi. Thanks a lot for stopping by.
      I wonder if arranged marriages have a higher success/happiness rate than non-arranged. Maybe I’ll look into that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Almost Iowa June 29, 2017 / 11:24 am

        It would be a hard thing to gauge, especially because a lot of arranged marriages involve traditional culture that few researchers could get a handle on. I would not be surprised if the big problem was finding a cross-cultural definition of success/happiness.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. greenpete58 June 29, 2017 / 11:54 am

    I read an interesting article a while ago about The Netherlands, where marriage doesn’t seem to be “pushed” like it is in the states. Couples co-habit for as long as they want, single gals/guys don’t feel as compelled to marry by a certain age, and divorcees don’t carry the same stigma. Puritanical America is way too hung up on “the exchanging of vows,” both inside and outside of church, in my opinion. This doesn’t even get into the entangled legal ramifications that comes with marriage, which can be a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 12:02 pm

      Hello Pete.
      Sounds like the Dutch have it together a lot more than people in many other nations.
      I was in Amsterdam last year and came away with the feeling that it was a great place to live in.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Elizabeth M. Soltan June 29, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    Here’s some Philadelphia advice on marriage longevity, to paraphrase Ben Franklin: Before marriage, keep your eyes wide open; after marriage, keep them half-shut.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 2:46 pm

      Afternoon, Liz.

      I’m not exactly sure what Ben meant by that. Maybe it wasn’t his wisest saying (?).


  9. hairytoegardener June 29, 2017 / 1:34 pm

    I was married to my second husband for over 19 years before he passed away. I think I learned a lot from his death as to what is/is not important in marriage. It’s not most of the stupid things that couples makes such a big fuss over. It’s not things at all. It’s the person. I would gladly give all of my THINGS away to get my husband back. I’d even give up speaking, and he died over 10 years ago. But before he died, I didn’t realize (like many people) what was or was not important in life. I made mountains out of molehills sometimes. My values were stupid.

    And ya, you don’t know what is REALLY going on in other couple’s lives. You only know what they care to show you.

    I’m very glad to hear that you and Sandy are going strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Hello. Your comments are among the deepest that anyone has ever posted on any of my articles. Thanks very much for adding wisdom to my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lexklein June 29, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    Although I have mainly been surrounded by stable couples in my various neighborhoods and extended family, and have a long-lasting marriage myself, I still think marriage is an unnatural state and something that can easily fall apart. There are surely some true love matches and soul mates for whom marriage is a day-to-day joy, but I think most successful marriages depend on good old hard work. I also (perhaps cynically) think lots of the intact marriages we view from the outside are not necessarily the happiest unions on the inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Hello Lexie.
      I think you’re right about good old hard work when it comes to marriage (and to many other endeavors, too).
      We’re emotional creatures, so ups and downs are to be expected.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. C. C. Cedras June 29, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    I still hold such romantic feelings of marriage thanks to My Darling (late) Husband that I will avoid the movie — who needs that negativity and ambiguity– plus I really don’t like Debra Winger so there’s that. Excellent review, though!

    BUT, I’ve added the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to my bucket list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 29, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      It’s a beauty, C.C.
      And when you’re on the pier at night and the bridge is very close by, the view is something else.


  12. andrewcferguson June 30, 2017 / 2:21 am

    Good article Neil. Alison and I are coming up for 29 years in August. She’s an incredibly patient woman.

    It’s strange sometimes how these things happen in streets. When my Dad first retired, he and my Mum moved to a new little development in a village along the coast. For the first ten years or so, it was great for them – all the neighbours were newly retired folks, and they all got on.

    Then, starting at the other end of the cul-de-sac, it wasn’t divorce that started intervening – it was death! Each husband, in sequence, died, leaving a widow. My Dad said they had to get out of there before the Grim Reaper reached his bony finger out to their doorbell…

    It was all coincidence, of course. But I was glad that Mum and Dad moved back to our town before the guy with the sickle got to my old man!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. cincinnatibabyhead June 30, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    My neighborhood has a lot going on but the big fad right now is ‘Leaf Blowers” a wonderful invention. I’ve separated my self from the land of concrete but ‘Race Street Pier’ sounds like an Oasis. CB’s style. Love those resurrection stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 30, 2017 / 1:14 pm

      CB, youre right. Oasis is the way to describe that pier. In all of Philadelphia it’s one of my very favorite places to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ann Coleman July 2, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    I think love is a hard thing to pin down, but even the most loving marriage requires a certain amount of work, tolerance and forgiveness. Sometimes I think people just want the rush that comes in the beginning of a romance, and that is one thing that doesn’t last forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 2, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      Hello, Ann. Thanks a lot for stopping by.
      I agree with what you say.
      Marriage can be a very challenging institution.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. K E Garland July 3, 2017 / 9:27 am

    I’ll have to check out The Lovers. You’re always spot on about films. Not quite sure what to say about the other, um situations…those are weird coincidences.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. DS July 4, 2017 / 10:46 am

    Your article was very thoughtfully written, but i must say we hated The Lovers. We could not muster any sympathy for such selfish, shallow people…even when one of them was the incomparable Debra Winger.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 4, 2017 / 12:59 pm

      Hello, and thanks for adding your thoughts.
      I know what you mean about The Lovers. But I liked (didn’t love) the flick anyway. Maybe its goofiness is what appealed to me.


  17. johnlmalone June 17, 2020 / 12:34 am

    you know what surprises me, Neil — and I’m a little envious, I admit, because my own marriage broke up some years ago — are the number of couples our age who are STILL married after 40 or so years; How do they do it???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 17, 2020 / 7:33 am

      That’s a good question. Marriage can be tricky. I think I’ve read that half of marriages end up in divorce or separation.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Basia Korzeniowska June 17, 2020 / 2:07 am

    Great post. My parents divorced when I was very little, so I never wanted to get married in case it all went wrong. But I did 42 years ago, five weeks after meeting my husband. I hated it for the first year but then things got better. We had children and friends and began to work things out. 42 years later, together 24 hours a day in lockdown we like each other. We talk, we listen to music, we get out of each other’s way. We always eat together. We listen to each other.
    Of course we have rows now and again. They spring from nowhere. Then extinguish themselves. I sulk. My husband forgets. I read books. He watches tv. But a week ago we discovered Netflix. So now we watch films. Well check out the lovers I think.
    Oh. And we used to travel. Looks like Philadelphia May have to wait. But that bridge is stunning! Thanks for the Post Neil

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 17, 2020 / 7:30 am

      Hi. Thanks for delving into the archives to find this story. And thanks for the details about your life. You and your husband are an excellent pair. And speaking of Netflix: Have you watched the series Dead To Me? My wife and I have watched the first 10 episodes so far. We like it a lot. The plot gets thicker as the story unfolds.


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