|Jersey Shore's new normal - cliff shows just how high the tide came up|
Welcome back to somewhat regular programming.
Our governor here in Jersey is calling this time after Hurricane Sandy “the new normal.”
I have no bloody idea what that means exactly but it sounds good.
In my head, we are always experiencing a “new normal.” Our normal in the days after September 11, 2001 looks nothing like our normal of the autumn 2012. And that’s normal.
Thankfully, my most recent normal made it through the storm alright.
Honey Badger is asleep in my chair before a blue flickering television screen. Fletcher the dog is snoozing in his bed on the floor nearby. Our families throughout the Garden State are safe and most have power again. The night outside is cool and dry and dead quiet. Not a tree branch is moving in the darkness.
Our North Jersey home is warm again, the lights shine inside, hot water is ready for morning showers and the cars are filled with gas for their usual duty.
Out on our wind-damaged deck glowing prematurely with white Christmas lights, a peaceful silence offers time for thoughts about the last few weeks as I pull on a cigarette staring at stars.
Sandy, to mangle the words of a Springsteen song, lost her desire for us well before she crashed into New Jersey.
Forget desire, she had fury. She killed wildly.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the scores killed by the storm and all the thousands displaced and left homeless by her raging waters and tides, and insane winds.
Most of us encountered some discomfort the last while but not the heartbreaking loss of those in many Jersey Shore towns, on Staten Island, out the Rockaways and on Breezy Point.
We lost power and heat. They lost love ones and homes.
Still many of us are lost in a flood of nostalgia.
Local newspapers and websites are filled with memories from World War Two vets to my shower of Generation X brothers about their youthful days spent on the Jersey Shore.
It is a natural reaction to a deadly disaster hitting so close to home. All loss, no matter how small, is personal.
We are all out of sorts and push our thoughts to happier days. I understand. I grew up on the Shore and worked as a teenager on a boardwalk now in the sea.
Thankfully, in these parts we had no dead to bury, only neighbors to help and memories to resurrect.
One of those memories is being a 17-year-old kid with a new license driving Shore roads at night in a four-door blue ’79 Chevy Nova with a cassette from some guy from Freehold jammed in the dashboard radio. The tape was called “Nebraska” and the second track had a line that always hit home.
“Everything dies, baby, that‘s a fact/But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.”
From the Rockaways to Staten Island, from Belmar to Seaside Heights, from Long Beach Island to Atlantic City nothing is going to be close to our version of normal for a long time. Actually, it is never going to be the same again.
These communities lost souls and homes and memory touchstones but someday they’ll come back.
It just isn’t going to be the same and that’s normal.