I told Liz that, while in New Jersey, I wanted to take a side trip down the shore to the Seaside Heights area, which was hit the hardest last year by Superstorm Sandy. She and I headed down there this morning and took a long stroll on the boardwalk. The businesses that are still intact on the boardwalk (there are lots of them!) are closed for the season and we were two of just a handful of people out there, not counting all of the construction workers who were fixing everything. As quiet as it was, I was able to imagine a bustling, noisy, funnel cake-smelling amusement area thanks to Liz’s description. The destruction of generations of memories made on hot summer days was palpable but so was the spirit of “Jersey Strong” as they Restore the Shore.
We spent some time at the water’s edge, too. It was a beautiful day. The juxtaposition of the constancy of the ocean’s beauty and the cranes, building materials, and workers on the changing boardwalk–along with the experience of seeing it all with Liz–made a memory that I will think about for a long time to come. We found some beautiful shells as well as a handful of sea glass and even some Costa Rican Colones, all of which I took with me as a reminder of this special day.
After grabbing some lunch at one of the restaurants that’s open year round, we drove back towards home along the bay where we passed countless homes that were deserted, under repair, falling down, or completely missing from their lots, thanks to Sandy. It was a sobering scene even a year later, and it’s mind-blowing to think about how long it can take to repair what Mother Nature can destroy in a matter of hours.
I found myself trying to find silver linings behind it all, as I do. And there are some. The construction industry is in full boom on the Shore, of course. There’s also the pulling together and strengthening of a community that happens in times of disaster. Jersey Strong is now a nationally known statement of community pride. There are the good works still being done–check out Hometownheroes.org for more information on that.
The takeaway from it all for me is that even though we can’t escape the bad–it’ll always be there–looking for the good is one small way to reconcile the unexplainable. If you look hard enough, beauty will present itself.