George Carlin once titled an album, “What Am I Doing In New Jersey?” It’s a good question, and one for which I do not yet have an answer. Even though I’ve lived almost my entire life in a state located right next to New Jersey, I’ve never actually gone there for any particular reason other than to drive or take a train through it on the way to someplace else, presumably more alluring.
We weren’t planning on taking a vacation this summer; we saw little point in doing so with a kid who isn’t even a year old yet. However, when we were offered free use of a house at the south Jersey shore for a few days, we jumped at the chance. I’ve taken trips to the beach plenty of times in my life, just never to the beach in New Jersey. That has never been for any particular reason, and I’ve never been scared by the stories of medical waste washing up on shore there about 20 years ago or the unexploded World War I-era munitions repeatedly found along parts of the coast today. I’ve just never gone to New Jersey for a vacation because I never thought of it as someplace to go, probably because it’s so close.
So tonight we are heading off to the Jersey shore, baby in tow. The only thing that I know for sure about southern New Jersey is that I will almost certainly feel like a doofus sitting in my car while somebody else pumps the gas. The Garden State has “staggering drawing power,” if one is to believe the dialog from Kevin Smith movies, and I am about to feel its magical pull for the first time. I’ll just have to remember not to dig in the sand while I’m there.