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?


  1. Couldn't give up the Shore - that's why I commute to work an hour every day for the last 25 years.... Lived away from the beach when I went to college and that was long enough to be away..

  2. I have considered this a lot, and I am content where I am.

    I grew up in PR, and I think it was a great experience. It is certainly a beautiful place. But while there are really good reasons to visit, there are also good reasons to not live there.

    I am long overdue for a visit though...

  3. It looks so beautiful where you are - I'm breathing in the sea air vicariously. Having moved incrementally West ever since childhood, I agree with you - home is where I live now, with my family. Past homes are places in the heart.

  4. We are heading down to the Jersey Shore for our own family vacation. I love the beach, but I have never been tempted to live there year round. I guess if were going to move home, we could be neighbors.

  5. @ June: But see, you said "if we were going to move HOME." No matter how far away we get, I wonder if the place where we are born is always HOME.

  6. Anonymous6.8.11

    I would sell a child to live near a beach. Okay, not really, I only have three, and I'm very attached to them all. But yeah, home is where your family is. Still, I'd love to live at the coast. All year long in all weather.

  7. Seriously, is that last one a photo or an Edward Hopper?

  8. @Julie: I heard a rumor that Skye might have an available property on the Oregon coast. In a town called Seaside!

    @lora: straight from my iPhone to you.

  9. Beautiful pictures, Megan. We recently spent a week in North Carolina, also on a barrier island. It's so lovely. NC was one of several homes I've had over the years, but "home" is East Texas. I would not move back there for a hundred thousand dollars (but I might for a million. you could travel a lot with a million.) I love to visit all our previous homes. Our current location doesn't suit me particularly well, so it doesn't really feel like home, although we've lived here 18 years. I think I am too much of a rolling stone to be happy in one place for long, although I'm glad for my kids' sake that we've been able to stay here for their childhoods.


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