Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Flood of Memories, Washed Away

"When your best hopes and desires are scattered to the wind. And hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go. Yeah just to come again, bring on your Wrecking Ball." -New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen

Typing the title to this post brought tears to my eyes. I see the pictures and they're heartbreaking. Devastating. I know these are just things, places that can and will be rebuilt. But they're more than that to me.
They're a part of me. A part of my childhood and the person I've become. A part of my history with My Director. A part of Peanut too.

This is what's left of the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ:

Many of you may only know Seaside through the horribly offensive lens of the repugnant show Jersey Shore. I admit, even before that show hit the air Seaside was not as family-friendly as it once was. But it's where I grew up. Right across the bridge, actually. That boardwalk where my parents took me on rides during the summer, where my Grandpa Sal took me to "watch the waves" (Yes, that's a thing), where I hung out with my friends. 

More recently, it's where me and Peanut shared a nauseating ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl and a wacky spin through the Fun House:
You can see the ocean over my shoulder
This was 2 months ago
Every time I see the images of these places now, I get choked up. Places remind us of the good times we had and the people with whom we had them. About 25 miles south of Seaside, the island where we spend a week every summer is now underwater, changed forever:
Long Beach Boulevard, LBI
That ferris wheel you see in the picture is the amusement park where My Director had her big triumph this summer, winning Peanut a pillow pet in a feat that I couldn't duplicate if I tried 100 times:
My favorite memory from summer 2012
I don't think of these places a lot when we're not getting ready to go to them, actually at them, or having just left them. I assumed they'd always be there when we were ready to return. Now they might not be. And if they are, they may never be the same again.
Peanut running to fly a kite with me,
Mantoloking, NJ. Summer 2011.
Mantoloking Beach after Sandy
You know what they say? "Take a picture. It lasts longer?" It most certainly does:

Peanut and I, celebrating my mom's birthday: July 2012
The same restaurant after Sandy


  1. At a loss for words. I can't say how sorry I am. When the storm first hit the news and the projected path was shown... my first thoughts were of you and your family. I'm glad to know all of you are safe.

    I'm sorry about the damage to the venues, as you described them above with all their importance from your childhood and adulthood. I'm glad you have your memories and pictures to help carry you through.


  2. I'm glad you have the pictures, your safety, and time to make new memories.

  3. GULP.

    I have no words.

    I have friends and family who have been stuck/stranded there for days trying to get home. They are all now safely on their way, but I can only imagine the devastation for those who actually do call it home.

    I guess, the best thing to say is what Gina already has.

  4. I feel you. I grew up in NJ and had the same experiences, have the same memories, and am shedding the same tears as you. The Log Flume, that wild mouse roller coaster, the cotton candy, the cheese fries, the sights and sounds, winning a Bruce Springsteen cassette tape and a Pink Floyd iron-on decal from the wheel games...

    All of it is either gone or forever changed. I can't even type this without tearing up.

    We also have been vacationing down in the Stone Harbor/Avalon area since my boys have been born and that area was completely under water as well.

    College? Fairfield University in CT. The houses we lived in for our junior and senior years along the beach... under water. Our favorite bar, the one I spent many hours wooing my wife in... under water.

    This was an all out assault on my memories.

    As Governor Christie said, we will rebuild, but it won't be the same. My attempt at perspective is that people across this planet experience similar loss each time one of these disasters strike, we are simply the latest victims. The only thing we can do is build new memories while cherishing those from our past at the same time.

    Still doesn't stop the tears.

  5. That's crazy. There just aren't words...

  6. I have lived in SWFLA since 1994. We moved down just two years after Andrew. I lived through Charlie in '04 and Wilma in '05 which made landfall just south of me. Just after the storm, nothing seems like it will ever be okay again. But the sun rises, people start clearing the wreckage, power gets restored and we slowly put our lives back together. Yes, those places you've made memories with are forever altered. But your memories can never be taken away. They will rebuild and you all will return. Life never stops moving forward. Even when we wish it would stand still. My heart goes out to everyone affected by Sandy. You are in my prayers. As a survivor of two hurricanes I can tell you that you will be okay. It will take time, but you will be okay.

  7. Living in a state with almost no natural disasters, I can't imagine living through one, much less picking up the pieces afterwards. I hope your memories serve you well, and that the community rebuilds itself in such a way for you to create new great memories with Peanut to weave into her own story for her children.

  8. So many good memories at the shore with you guys! Your family has been in my thoughts a lot this week. Hope everyone has been safe. Thanks for this post.

  9. I feel the same emotions when I look at the devastation from this storm. It's so surreal to have memories of these places associated with happiness juxtaposed with such sadness. Every year we give the kids a book of tickets for Casino Pier in their Easter basket to continue the thrill-seeking fun. We didn't use them all this year and I was told that don't expire so I was saving them in my desk drawer. A slideshow of flashbacks plays in mind every time I see them now.
    I can remember back when Casino Pier was once a source of income for our family. Before there was an arcade, there was "The Italian Village", a variety of retail stands and mom and dad's entrepreneurial debut in the early '70s selling painted statues and Roman columns. As new beginnings go, they managed their expenses often by packing food from home. Grandpa would eagerly hand me a homemade sausage and peppers sandwich and proudly ask "You know how much they'd charge you for this on the broadwalk?" It's one of my favorite memories.

  10. i also am living in florida, i just moved down in august. all my family is at the jersey shore, and we also vacationed in seaside in the summer as kids. it is devastating, but im so proud of the people in jersey cuz they are "jersey strong" and will get thru this...

  11. spent many summers there. grew up in Lakehurst......actually had my first apartment in Seaside Heights. This is heartbreaking. I'm very sorry for all those affected. I wish you well.

  12. i two lived in seaside for a couple of years and bought my first house right there in gilford park at the base of the bridge lived there for 20 yrs rasied my boys there i move to joplin mo in 2005 and my boys still live in tomsriver i lived threw gloria in 85 two blocks from the beach i also servide the f5 tornado here in joplin last yr i lost everything my house car everything and my kids watched it all happening on tv i now know how scared they were watching what was happening to me and i could only watch what was happening to them from here in mo but thank god they are fine it does feel like that it will never end the pain and hurt and the lost feeling but it does get better never the same but better u do find somewhere to live again and u start to build new memories just hold tight to the memories u have now and pics and u and peanut will make new one god bless all in my beloved jersey shore god bless

  13. I have so many memories of the Jersey shore, especially of Seaside!!! The cotton candy, the arcades, the coconut patties that you can never find in any other beach resort, the rides, the beach, the ocean...the "feel" of the's gone. I went to Monmouth University, and much (if not all?) of the boardwalk in Long Branch where I spent so many days walking the boards, is gone. The old "Club Mars" (it seemed to change names every month or so) on the boardwalk is gone. Even the WindMill is damaged. I don't even know about the campus, but I probably don't want to know. Unless you're from NJ and spent time at these resorts, you can't begin to's childhood memories. Someone else mentioned that this is what people all over the world go through after natural disasters, and that's true...we will all somehow get through this, but even once we rebuild, it will never be the same. :(

  14. All of us New Jersey residents are heart broken seeing the devastation all along our shores. You are not alone. We are with you and we are all in this together. Together we will rebuild and get our shores back. God bless you and know that you are not alone. We are here with you and we care. We will stand beside you and help you through this tragedy. The people of New Jersey are joining forces to help!

  15. So shocking to see the "before and after" photos. I didn't discover the Jersey Shore until I was almost 30 (Ocean City specifically), and it's one of my favorite places to visit with the kids. Hard to look at those photos and think that what we knew before may never be again.

  16. I'm almost ashamed to tell you that I am just now reading this. I have seen hurricane destruction and I just wasn't ready yet because I knew you and I knew you would move me. This gave me goosebumps and breaks my heart all in one fail swoop. Without these photos and this blog, many of us would not have an idea of what you all are going through. Thank you for sharing with us and keep your chins up :)


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