I grew up at the Shore, and there is always an element of nostalgia in coming back. I was afraid that might be the only thing pulling me there, and was presently surprised that wasn't the case. Yes, it is always fun to drive around and see what has survived since my childhood days and be disappointed in what hasn't (this year's big heartbreak — Freedman's Bakery is no more.) But there is something else going on, too. Going home isn't just about memories, it's also about physically connecting to a place. I live by the ocean in Florida, but it is still renewing and refreshing to dip my toes in the cold Atlantic of New Jersey, the ocean of my childhood. Maybe it's in my DNA.
There is also something about the pace that I love. I grew up in a vacation spot. I seem to have always wanted to live where everyone, i.e., tourists, want to come and visit, whether it be the beach, or a major city like New York or Washington, D.C.
As much as I enjoyed my time in those urban metropolises, the other thing that seemed crystal clear to me on this recent vacation was how much I love the beach lifestyle. Ron Jon's anyone? I may never have learned to surf, but I completely connect with a slower, more relaxed vibe. Like the "salt life" stickers you see on cars everywhere down here, I connect to the ocean, the salt air, the sand in my toes.
Where we live now, Palm Beach, can be a bit fancy sometimes, but that's not what I'm about, and it's not why I'm here. It's the ocean, across the road, that calls me. And I can't help but answer, "Hello, old friend."