One thing I don’t like about New Jersey is that one must pay to access the beach. It just feels wrong. The rationale is that the beach must be cleaned and maintained and the fees help with the cost of that. Ok, fine but it also pays for the salaries of people like this woman pictured about who collect the beach access fees. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to install a turnstile? In states like California, the beach is public access and are a part of the state parks system. New Jersey could do the same and ensure that ALL New Jersey residents, not just the ones who can afford the $9 fee. Some beaches in New Jersey are free. Belmar and Avon-on-the-Sea and Bradley Beach are not among them.
The clouds were mostly gone and we could feel the sunlight. Finally!
We set up our beach chairs and sat down to enjoy the smell and sound of the ocean, the warmth of sunlight on our skins, and the salty sea breeze.
The day didn’t start out on a good note but it turned out better than I expected. I had a few hours to chat with my family and forget about work. My only regret is that we didn’t do this earlier in the summer and that our daughter, Kiran, could not join us.
For this week’s challenge, I had a few ideas in mind. There is a rusting abandoned car along one of the trails of the Autumn Hill Reserve in Princeton. I wanted to take a hike out and see what sort of images I could create with that. However, it rained a lot over the weekend, and the ground was quite wet. The last time Bhavna and I hiked out in the Preserve after a rain we found the trail unpleasant. I didn’t fancy slipping and sliding in mud or being up to my ankle in muddy water but I grabbed my tripod and camera and started down the trail. About twenty minutes later I had to turn back. The water on the trail began to seep into my boot. I got a split in the path and realised I could not remember which directly led to the rusted truck. I turned around and walked back to my car.
I was starting to feel a bit down. My weekend photography projects were working out the way I had planned. The weather was putting a damper on things. I was feeling dispirited.
On Sunday we decided to drive down to Asbury Park. I’ve wanted Bhavna and the kids to see this old New Jersey shore town I had discovered for myself several years prior. The sky was 100% overcast, with no chance of sun and the weather report suggested a high probability of rain. But, I wanted to get out of the house, and I hoped that walking the boardwalk would provide some opportunity for photography.
Located in Monmouth County, Asbury Park is one of New Jersey’s old shore towns. The town was developed in 1871 C.E. as a residential resort. The Asbury Park Boardwalk, an orchestra pavilion, public changing rooms and a pier at the southern end of that boardwalk attracted a lot of tourists and subsequent development including some grand hotels.
In its heydey as many as 600,000 people visited Asbury Park each summer, riding the New York and Long Branch Railroad from New York City and Philadelphia. The Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall complex, the Casino Arena and Carousel House were built in the 1920s. The photos in this post are from the inside and outside of the convention hall.
We had planned on playing some miniature golf but my wife complained it was too cold. The boardwalk is normally quiet on a Sunday with only a few people. But earlier in the day, the borough hosted a gay pride parade. The boardwalk and restaurants were packed with people. We walked around, and I gave my family a history lesson — as much as I knew — on each of the buildings we passed.
Later we walked downtown and had pretzels (kids), bratwurst and beer at the Asbury Biergarten und Festhalle. We sat outside on the roof patio but soon it was too cold. We walked around exploring the downtown before heading home.
As I reviewed the photos and wrote the words for this post, I could not help myself. I cried like a heartbroken teenager. So many memories of so many moments, but they all seem like they just happened yesterday.
Eighteen years ago a nurse handed us a 7 pound 6 oz. sack of flesh and wished us luck. Seriously! The only instruction received was some short advice to my wife on how to express organic baby formula from her breasts. Oh, I got some help with the baby seat.
So we looked at each other with a look that expressed complete and utter dread. We knew we were supposed to feed, cloth and love this thing with every fiber of our being. Any regret we had was dashed away with every breath he — oh yeah the thing was a small male person — took. Nature had filled our brains with s rush of hormones that made it nigh impossible to dislike the thing.
It was a cruel joke. The thing — we decided at the hospital to name it Shaan — refused to eat and a few weeks later we took it — I mean Shaan — back to the hospital. He had developed a skin colour more akin to a Star Trek alien than a human youngling. We spent 48 hours in the ICU while the doctors tuned his system.
I knew then that that would be the worst moments of my life and that if Bhavna and I could weather that, then the rest would be a piece of cake. After all, we were never really doing this alone.
He was surrounded by knights ready to provide protection from the dangers of life, wizards, and witches who could heal any injury with a kiss, seers who would teach you about the wonders of the universe, and jesters ready to entertain at a moment’s notice.
We were given eighteen years. Eighteen years to take a lump of human flesh and turn it into a human being. We didn’t always do our best. We made mistakes.
In our trying to make him perfect, sometimes our words and action left scratches and we hope the dents can be smoothed out over time.
Fortunately, he had an in-house advocate who was always by his side. She kept us honest. She jokes that she’s his twin.
But the mistake was in the trying. You see, our son was born perfect. He was given to us fully formed. Complete. His care was given over to us for those eighteen years so we could share him with you.
Thank you all.
And so to you, my baby boy — you’ll forever be our baby — I want to thank you. Thank you for challenging me in ways more rewarding than any career; for reminding me daily about the wonders of the world; for allowing us to be vulnerable enough to put our love out into the world.
I know that you will do great things with your life.
If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he’s not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open