Rolls of quarters and we just kept playing

October 31, 2012

8:30 rolls around and I’m finishing the 3rd sinkful of dishes. My lower back aches.

A friend prompted me to check out photos of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy on the New Jersey shore. I had been feeling really lucky that we got away with only a gutter blown off our house and 10 minutes of power outage. I kinda didn’t want to think about this storm anymore, after days of anxiety and mental images of us standing on our rooftop waving to be rescued.

I still have nightmares about 9/11.

But I looked. Shit.

Haven’t lived there in 15 years but I grew up in New Jersey, going to the beach every weekend once we had our drivers licenses. Which of course was at age 17, not 16 like our out of state friends.

We were young. The Seaside Heights boardwalk was, above all else, about meeting boys. Flirting between cheese fries and airbrushed t-shirts. Sometimes we splurged for tickets to go on rides. I longed for the day I’d be old enough to rent a motel room and jump into the pool from the balcony. Where did I get that idea in my head?

Once I was at the boardwalk with a friend and we spent the better part of a day eyeing two guys. Tony and Trey? Aaron and Andy? It was something like that. We ended up exchanging numbers just before heading home. Damn, they lived in Union. Never saw them again, but I often thought about making secret trips to Union, NJ to hang out with my badass Seaside Heights boyfriend. I probably kept that scrap of paper with his number for a year.

Once a random date took me to the boardwalk. Turned out, he had no plans once we got there and was perhaps the worst conversationalist I’ve ever met. We ate at a weird restaurant. Funny thing – we worked together at a restaurant that was way better. Should have just eaten there.

Another guy I worked with at a different restaurant (waitstaff are scandalous!) took me a little further down the shore where it gets family-friendly. Played skee-ball. Tried to win stuffed animals. He had rolls of quarters and we just kept playing. That was reallllly different than how I grew up, which was – here’s 3 quarters and that’s all you get. I felt like a princess! I swore when I had my own kids I wouldn’t be stingy with the quarters.

Well, hell. Whoosh. All gone.

Sure, they’ll rebuild. Like stadiums and concert venues, it’ll probably come back as TDBank-Pepsico-Seaside Heights or something like that. But you can’t recreate decades of grease-stained sausage stands, can you?