Monday, August 9, 2010

A bad day at the beach beats a good day in the office

A whole week at the beach with my family was an indulgence I’d been without for four years. Each summer, conflicts with summer jobs, camps or another commitment prohibited me from joining my family at the shore for our traditional Stone Harbor, NJ vacation.

Growing up, we’d pack the car the night before and set alarms for the break of down to beat traffic and maximize our week rental. After fighting a few miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic, we’d finally emerge onto the delta and roll down the windows to allow the fragrant eruption of salty sea air to permeate the car.

Stone Harbor is small, family beach town in Southern New Jersey about and hour an a half from Philadelphia. Rows of Cape Cod style homes flank the quiet streets where pedestrians maintain the right of way and bikers account for half the road traffic. The three-block downtown strip on 96th street consists of some boutique clothing shops, a movie theatre, an arcade and the Fudge Kitchen, one of my favorite haunts as a little girl.

On our final day, we stopped down town to pick up some salt water taffy, fudge and other mementos before hitting the road. It had been a couple years since I’d even been down there, so I quickly walked down to the corner where my favorite trinket shop, Neptune’s Gift Shop, had been. I was disenchanted to find that the shop had been replaced with an art gallery. As I trudged back to meet my family at the Fudge Kitchen, I couldn’t help but think of the Bob Dylan song, “Times they are a Changing”. Each year, I had spent most of my time and savings on anklets, mood rings or wish bracelets, and seeing the shop gone reaffirmed that even my most sacred childhood memories weren’t safe from change.

It’s always with heavy hearts that we pile the boogie boards onto the roof of the car, scrape the last bit of sand from our feet and wave goodbye to our summer getaway. After 7 months away from my family, seeing the water tower and the coast line disappear as we pulled away was even more difficult. It marked the end of the vacation and the end of my week with them. Separating your life between two coasts is no easy endeavor. Every misty goodbye at the airport tugs at my heartstrings- no matter how adoring I am of my new home in San Francisco.

But wiping away a few stranded streams of tears from my cheeks as I checked in at the airline kiosk, I was contended to know that one piece of the vacation, one of my favorite pieces, wasn’t left behind on the East Coast, but in fact calls California home as well.


ea10is said...

Iced or not iced? "Is there a little similarity here?"

Anonymous said...

I don't think you could have summed up Stone Harbor any better...