When I think of summers as a child, I think of the boardwalk and weeks spent visiting at my grandmother's home.
At night it would be crowded. Families with hoards of hyped up children walked back and forth, stopping at stands and shops for fresh salt water taffy, warm fudge, cotton candy and souvenirs that would surely break on the way home.
The sound of the ocean rhythmically crashing against the sand could barely be heard over the hustle of the boardwalk at night.
The boardwalk at dawn is a more spiritual experience.
The fresh air smells of salt, and you can clearly hear the ocean roar, the seagull’s call and the occasional ring of a bicycle bell as early morning beach goers get to their destinations. 11th street beach is our spot. Not too many tourists, not too far from the house and just close enough to get to the Khor’s Frozen Custard stand easily.
The family trips to Jersey (or at least, my involvement with them) died down for awhile after I moved out of my parent's house and became increasingly busy.
A few times over the past year though, I had the chance to revisit the place where I spent so many summer weeks.
It was the off-season, November, the last time I went. Off-season is delightfully, hauntingly quiet.
The shops are boarded up, storefronts empty.
The boardwalk is peaceful and you're free to wander into places probably closed to the public (officially at least.)
Off the boardwalk though, it was clear that Hurricane Sandy had wreaked havoc on the town.
Parts of the boardwalk closed down, which is a big deal to Jersey home and business owners, my grandmother said.
Homeowners were also facing the task of "moving" their homes to meet new flood insurance requirements.
Houses were being lifted at almost every corner, bulldozers parked outside.
It was a strange experience, to view a side of the island that I hadn't seen before.The glimpse into the realities of living on the shore was unexpectedly troubling.
Have you ever revisited an old memory place and been surprised at how much is has changed, in some ways?
In others, not at all.