Sunday, October 23, 2005

Discovering my inner Jersey boy

My wife, from North Plainfield, has a shirt proudly emblazoned, "Jersey Girl: Best in the World."

After quite a slog on the road—250 miles Thursday night—300 miles Friday night, and another 500 on Saturday—I pulled into the parking lot of the new Wawa here in Villas just after sunset. It came rushing back to me how much I like New Jersey. Colonial villages that morphed into Victorian towns and then into doo-wop sprawl and there are still enough farms to call it the Garden State. No wonder it's the most densely populated in the nation: it's the coolest. People are intense, direct, and sure of themselves. There's the ocean and there's New York City just over the border.

The wind was howling in from the west, so much so that after I unloaded my bags and took my perfunctory walk down to the bay, I felt like one of those t.v. guys reporting on approaching hurricanes. I held my arms out as I faced the water and felt the wind might take me away.

But it didn't. It helped me home along Wilde Avenue, pushing at my back. After I brushed my teeth and crawled under the sheets, it howled all night long. It tore through the leaves of the huge oaks that tower over the cottage. Acorns pounded down onto the roof and I worried they'd put dents into my beloved pickup truck—the truck that had just hauled me a thousand miles without a whimper. I didn't worry long because I fell asleep soon: I was dead tired..

When I awoke this morning, the light was brilliant, suffused by the sea. The wind must have blown all the clouds away. I went outside and there were leaves and branches littering the ground everywhere. The sky was so brilliant I had to ask myself whether I'd ever seen that particular shade of blue before.

I spent the gorgeous day buying appliances at Lowes. Afterwards I took a walk on the beach, still stunned by the way the sky looked. I watched the Cape May ferries headed to Delaware. I stopped on the way home for dinner at Harpoon Harry's in Townbank. I sat at the bar and watched the sun set over the bay, eavesdropping Jersey fishermen bitching about the Coast Guard. We all wolfed down Yuengling beer and fried grouper sandwiches.

Poke fun at it all you want; Jersey's one of the richest states in the nation. It may be a little tacky, but it's got it all.


At 11:32 AM, Blogger DetroitGirl said...

Your brief missive makes me want to visit there, too. What a powerful sense of place your writing evokes...


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