My whole life I have lived at the Jersey Shore, Long Beach Island to be exact. I live in Barnegat about 15 minutes from the beach and living so close has made the beach a very big part of my life. So, when I tell people for the first time where I am from, I typically get the same reaction.
It is usually along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, really? That is so cool!” I usually give the same response of a sigh and rolling my eyes. If only they knew what it is really like, they would realize it’s not all its cracked up to be.
Where I live, the summer and the winter are about as different as night and day. During the winter, the island is like a ghost-town. There are places that are only open during the summer, two of my favorite restaurants included. Traffic is not an issue. Most of the traffic lights are turned off and the speed limit goes up a little bit. You can actually find a parking spot on the streets to go up to the beach.
During the summer, well, that’s a totally different story.
The summer before my freshman year at Cabrini, I worked at Ron Jon Surf Shop. If you have ever been to L.B.I., you’ve seen the place because of its obnoxiously loud colors. The store is located right at the beginning of the island. Typically, it only takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to get there. During the summer, it could take up to over an hour.
There is only one way on and off the island, and the traffic from the bridge backs up on Rt. 72 for miles sometimes. There would be many times when my bosses would get a very aggravated call from me telling them that I was going to be late because I was stuck in traffic on the bridge. I could have walked over the bridge faster than it took me to drive. I was actually jealous of the crazy people that rode their bicycles over the bridge. At least they were getting to where they were going faster than I was.
The amount of traffic during the summer is absolutely horrendous. Of course, it isn’t just limited to the island; the mainland is terrible as well. And the Garden State Parkway is even worse. Thinking about going south on a Friday in season or north on a Sunday? Forget it. Trying to drive on the Parkway on these days is absolutely unbearable. Vans with bike racks and beach chairs secured to the roof are everywhere.
Summer is right around the corner and soon enough the tourists will start flooding in. Besides warm weather, going to the beach and no school, summer always means traffic and overcrowding. As annoying as it all is, we’ve all grown up with it and it never changes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If I had the chance, I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. I have loved everything about growing up near the beach. I’m not sure I would ever be able to survive living in the Midwest. I can’t imagine going through life never having seen the beauty of the ocean
Of course we complain about the shoobies, bennies or whatever you chose to call them, like there is no tomorrow. It’s just the price we all have to pay for living by the beach and that price never gets too high.
The ocean is in my veins and the sand is always between my toes. The saying, “Welcome to the Jersey Shore, our lives are your vacation,” well, that couldn’t be more true.