The power slowly returned. Sporadic and weakened TV and Internet followed just this morning. Almost a week later. We were all in a fog. Radio reports were shoddy at best; political speeches of community and inner strength, company lip service by utility PR reps, and vague descriptions of the devastation. Hurricane Sandy was over but the rebuilding process was just beginning.
We felt violated. Like the innocent victims of a home invasion or a car break in. The crime may be over but the dirty infringement and unsettling vulnerability rises and falls like the ebb and flow of a tide. The feeling is repeated with each new image of destruction, and every new tale of horror and loss. They were all personal. This was our state, our towns, our shore, our people.
Jersey, Staten Island, the Shore...
The Jersey Shore - the playground of our summers and our youth may never be the same.
Going on vacation within the boundaries of your home state may make more sense for citizens of larger states like Texas or California but for many in the Northeast, summer vacations and the Jersey Shore go hand in hand. It is difficult to convey to outsiders just how culturally important the shore is for us and how many of our lives blossomed on the hot sands and crowded boardwalks that line the 200 mile coast, from the nude beaches of Sandy Hook to the tip of the Cape May peninsula. I can assure you the Jersey Shore is not the lampoon MTV blasted to the world. As millions from Maryland to Pennsylvania to New York can attest to, the shore is a place for families and singles alike, with crazy weekly beach house rentals and boutique hotels, wild bars and fun boardwalk games and rides, top notch restaurants, salt water taffy and miles upon miles of clean excellent beach.
The Jersey Shore is unlike any other beach. It's the shore. Each shore town and beach has is own unique personality. Every lover of the shore had their favorite and least favorite beach and that opinion was iron clad and would be defended with every fiber of their being. We knew what was the best approach to get the shore with the least amount of traffic, and how to properly find parking in the unbelievably packed grid of one way streets that line every shore town. We knew which boardwalk is the best for each age and out of town guest, where to get the best pizza, calzone, sausage and peppers and salt water taffy. The Stone Pony and The Boss, Atlantic City and Miss America, week long beach house rentals with extended family who have all vacationed at the shore since they were children themselves.
I remember week long vacations at Wildwood with dozens of bikers and what seemed to me to be the largest boardwalk in the world. I remember going every summer to Belmar and Bradley Beach, the lunacy of Point Pleasant and Sea Side Heights after dark, and riding tandem bikes to the point of boredom in old time Cape May. Seeing Primus at the first Sno-Core tour in Asbury Park, and bumping into RZA, GZA and Deck in their Bobby Digital van during the 4th of July fireworks at Point Pleasant beach.
There is always something special about the Jersey Shore. The amusement park rising over your shoulders while high tide tickles your toes. The nasty sea gulls stealing lunches while parents chase down blown away beach umbrellas. Ten thousand cultures and millions of people huddled together enjoying wave after wave while the sun beats down.
That is my Jersey Shore... and now I can only hope we can rebuild it so my daughter can enjoy it too.