Bittersweet Summer

(This essay originally appeared in Main Line Today magazine.)

There comes a time every summer when you finally get your well-deserved week at the Jersey shore. You’ve managed to squeeze a week in between sports, dance, sleep-away, and tennis camps and the beginning of school. Your packed and overloaded family car resembles a suburban version of the Beverly Hillbillies as you careen joyously into Avalon or Stone Harbor or Ocean City, the entire family singing along to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music. Summer vacation is here at last – the kids have no scheduled activities, you and your husband have coordinated a week off, and the sun is shimmering benevolently over the Boardwalk. Aahh, the dog days of summer…

Fast forward one week. You never noticed it before but it is quite possible that you are the only truly sane, normal person in your family. How this fact has eluded you when you have lived with these people for decades is a mystery. You start thinking that maybe, just maybe, it is time to go home. If you have experienced any of the following phenomena, then perhaps you truly have been at the Jersey shore too long. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Beaches

(Originally published in The New York Times in 2004)

A Tale of Two Beaches

I was walking along the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey last week when I remarked to my husband, “It’s weird, but the people here all look as though they could be my relatives. I feel like I’ve returned to my roots.”

“I always knew you were a Jersey girl at heart,” he replied.

I wasn’t sure if I liked that observation, or agreed with it. After all, my parents (both born in New Jersey) had left in 1958 when I was six years old. The first stage of our westward migration took us to Golden, Colorado, where we lived for the next fifteen years. Our family grew from myself and two sisters to six girls and finally, a boy. During our extended sojourn in Colorado (my father never really considered it home; it was more of a stopping off point), various relatives would visit us from New Jersey. They would marvel at the mountains and the wide-open spaces, fill up their suitcases with Coors beer, and go back. No one was ever tempted to join us out in the wild West.

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Debunking Travel Myths

(Originally published in Main Line Life on July 9. 2008)

It seems that every time I am about to go on a trip, some well-meaning friend or another feels compelled to offer either a last-minute dire warning, or a negative comment on something I am looking forward to in my travels.

A nervous Nellie of the first degree, these types of proclamations can throw me into a fretful fit at worst, or at best cause a night or two of restless sleep.

However, as I’ve traveled more, and further, I’ve gained confidence in my ability to assimilate the information declared as fact by these same nay-sayers, but not necessarily to act upon it. For example, a few years ago, on a trip to China, all I heard about was how I shouldn’t eat any of the local food. One friend said that she brought along several boxes of granola bars, and she subsisted on these and not much else during her trip.

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