[Originally written on this date in 2004]
Since the beginning of the warmer weather here in the Garden State, I have found myself inexplicably drawn to the sea. There are a few theories that I have come up with, to perhaps make sense of this phenomenon.
Could it be that like the turtles that migrate every year to the Galapagos Islands, I too have a born instinct that pulls me to the sandy beach?
There are many memories I have of visiting the ocean as a child. My mom took my sister and I to many shore points including Keansburg, Point Pleasant, Seaside, Sandy Hook and Wildwood, to name a few. Usually she would lay on the beach and soak up the sun, while I liked to drown myself in the salty water and get sand in my bathing suit. The sun bleached my hair and freckled my skin and I loved every minute of it – except for those times where I had painful sunburn. There is still a memory of one time when we were down in Wildwood with my aunt and uncle, he was so drunk that he fell off the tram car, and it left him there! My sister and I used to spend hours in the water park or on the boardwalk obtaining cherished prizes that have been long-forgotten.
Obviously I still love to go. Whether it is 18 miles out to Coney Island or down the Parkway to one of the many beaches here in Jersey, I just cannot get enough. The sights and sounds and smells that hit you all at once. The salted aroma of the sea mixes with scents of seared animal flesh, fried fat and teeth-rotting candy confections. The rumble of a roller coaster. The blinking and buzzing rides and games. The obnoxious guys that try to get you to play their obviously rigged games. Going to the beach is perhaps one of the few parts of my youth that I can honestly look back on with fondness and still enjoy now.
The trip down to Wildwood last weekend certainly helped to renew my love of the sea, and I lost count of how many times I have been down to the Shore within the last month. In fact, it seems I try to go at least once a week, and even though I went twice last week, I could not resist the urge to go again today, especially since it would be such a shame to waste a beautiful day sitting inside.
Gave Jon a call before I hit the Parkway to see if he wanted to keep me company and he was thrilled at the invitation. Since gas is absurdly high in price [the average is about $1.80 or higher right now], we met at Sandy Hook. There is always an awkward moment when I am in the process of parking my car with a mad grin on my face as I try to contain my excitement. It lets loose when I step out and set eyes on Jon, who is incredibly happy to see me no matter how recently we may have shared company. He swoops in and catches me with a giant hug, smothering me in scents that seem to be as firmly embedded into his skin as his tattoos are. My heart swells with so much love I want to cry with happiness but I manage to maintain my composure.
There was a nice fog that had rolled in, which was kind of creepy but fun at the same time. We strolled along the beach holding hands while passing a joint back and forth. It is not always necessary for us to talk, because I find soaking in the peace and quiet is part of the point of being at the beach. The ocean roars and occasionally a seagull swoops down to pick at something the tide left behind. The air is filled with a salty aroma that I can feel sticking to my skin and my toes sink into the damp sand. When I turn to see him smiling, the sun catches in his eyes making them sparkle like the ocean, I find myself lost in their brilliant blues and striking grays, wondering how I am so fortunate to be friends with this amazing human being.
Perfection may not technically exist, but I have to say that being with Jon on a beach is about as close as it can get and not something I want to stop doing any time soon. Every time I visit the ocean, I always come away with a new feeling of determination and other emotions I find difficult to put into words. No matter what may currently be going on in my life, it’s all forgotten the minute my feet touch the sand. We do not need a cooler or blanket or any of the other things people drag onto the beach. If I want to sit down, I use my leather jacket, and I love walking barefoot even though my feet [and sometimes even legs] get a nice wake-up call from the frigid waves that creep onto the shore.
The more I go, the less I can stay away, and I consider myself fortunate to live in a state that is surrounded on three sides by water. To be honest, I do not think I could ever be in a place that did not at least have access to a body of water. There is just something about the open ocean that cannot be compared to anything else, and I greatly enjoy being able to go whenever I feel like it. Having someone to share this experience with certainly helps, but I am no stranger to walking around a beach by myself, because there are times when being alone is needed.
Often I dream up grand schemes of living by the ocean, which is not entirely impossible, but I do not want to be tied down to one place just yet, so visitations will have to suffice for now.