May 26, 2012

She sells seashells...


Central Jersey... by the seashore.

For most of my teenage summers, we vacationed in New Jersey at the shore. We stayed in a centrally located community about halfway between Atlantic City and Newark, close to the ocean. We ate delicious seafood, walked on the boardwalks and listened to Springsteen on boom boxes. I felt like a character in one of the songs I listened to over and over, spending 4th of July at Asbury Park and watching Atlantic City start to make a comeback. Time stood still in the small beach bungalows and sandy streets.

The shore today is characterized by mass media depictions of spray on tans, lots of glitter, big hair and even bigger biceps, but that's not all the state has to offer. Speaking as a Jersey aficionado, the history and beauty of the state is a well kept secret. From parks and gardens, to entertainment to world class universities to Edision's historical Menlo Park, there is more to New Jersey than any Situation or Housewife.

For the past several years as the media has stereotyped New Jersey, I've wanted to defend my borrowed home state where I learned to love music, academia, and good food. One of the things we liked best about visiting Jersey was the ease of traveling around via the trains or highways. Central Jersey is conveniently located to both NYC and Philadelphia. We took several day trips to see Broadway shows,  go shopping, or walk the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia.

I love the enduring friendships that carried me into adulthood. People are always surprised when I talk about the friendliness and welcoming attitude, but pride goes a long way and we were lucky to befriend natives who shared the true treasures of their home. My memories of the state are fond and the opportunities endless.

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