05 August 2011
Jersey Shore: Past and Present
This is what the real Jersey Shore looks like. We took One, Four, and Five to Island Beach State Park. It is just down the road from Seaside Park, and a million miles from Seaside Heights, the home of MTV"s "Jersey Shore." It is a barrier island, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Barnegat Bay to the west. It is protected from development, and home to many creatures. It is One's favorite place to visit when we are at the beach.
We drove the island, and stopped to walk one of the many trails that meander through the thicket. We trudged along in the buggy darkness, and emerged out on the dune, the grass waving a greeting in the breeze. We continued on, following the sound of the surf, until we reached the crest, and saw the ocean sparkling below. There were no people; only us and the gulls.
My sister and I were driving through Point Pleasant, a lovely shore town about twenty minutes from Seaside, and also the next town over from where we grew up. We visited some great shops and antique stores, and then drove around to find a gas station. We passed the church where I married the Captain, and through neighborhoods we knew from our childhood. Erin asked if I missed living there. I paused to really consider my answer.
Every year we go to the beach, and it is comforting in its familiarity. Gazing out across the wide, open vista is calming, and after a few days, breathing falls almost in sync with the steady swoosh of the ocean. But I am a visitor there now. If I lived there, the rhythm of my life would be no different than it is here. There would be school, sports, chorale, play, doctors, dentists, driving. There would be work.
When I married the Captain, I left the shore, preserving my memories in the clear amber reserved for youth. We lived for a bit in Jersey City, and then Queens, before moving here, which is one town over from his hometown. I like this part of New Jersey. It's woodsy, green, and dotted with lakes. It's where all of my children have been born. And each summer, we link our lives, past and present, in the place where I grew up. The real Jersey shore.
Did you move away from home? Would you go back?