garden state of mind

Part of why I’m writing anything right now is because I feel like every passing day that I don’t exercise my creative muscles I risk their atrophy. I sit at my desk at work and can practically feel my brain calcify, or some other ridiculous biological metaphor that comes with having poor writing skills (even when I DO feel creative).

But mostly I’m writing this because I’m really pumped about my upcoming weekend.

Tomorrow is the last work day of this week for Valerie and me since we get Friday off in advance of Independence Day. We’re heading straight up to her mom’s house in the evening to have dinner and hang out with her mom and sister for the evening. Then we drag ourselves out of bed before first light and drive up Eisenhower’s Interstate to Red Bank, New Jersey. This will be my first visit to my home state since the passing of my father in March last year, and it’s been far too long. There is much to be done.

You see, Red Bank celebrates Independence Day with fireworks a day earlier than most places. There’s a veritable cannonade of colorful explosions in the sky over the Navesink River, a display to rival New York City (and, indeed, formerly executed by the same people). My step-mom carries on the tradition of hosting a serious party at her house marking the occasion, and there I hope to see several members of my dad’s family.

Red Bank is, itself, a treat for me. It’s like all the charm of Richmond’s Carytown on steroids (with some of the same inherent problems, unfortunately, like greedy landlords). Whether it’s Zebu, or The Bagel Oven, or even the played-out and kitschy Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (comic book shop), I don’t much tire of walking along Broad or Front Streets taking in the scenery of my youth. I have to dwell on The Bagel Oven for a moment, too, because it’s seriously my favorite bagel shop on the planet. I love me some Cupertino’s while I’m here in Ole’ Virginny, but even their fine bread pales in comparison to the goods on Monmouth St. The only concern I have is whether I can make up my mind between an egg or salt bagel…

On the 4th itself (Saturday), Valerie and I will travel a little southeast to Sea Girt where Jammie (my mom’s mom) lives. She’s trying to sell her home and move down south to retire near my mom, but while she’s still on The Shore I’m happy for the chance to visit her in the home where I spent half my childhood. We’re definitely hitting up The Ice Hut, some of the most glorious Italian Ice around, and who knows? Maybe we’ll have pizza at The Squan Tavern if I’m lucky. If the weather is as nice as expected, I’ll probably take Valerie down to the boardwalk at night so we can see the other small towns up and down the coast set off their 4th of July fireworks displays.

I also have to make sure, at some point, to procure a proper pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich on a poppy seed hard roll. If half of that sounded foreign to you, you’ll just have to make a trip to the shore yourself sometime. Words fail.

On Sunday we’ll start the long drive home, but we’ll stop in Delaware to see my brother, Mugs, his wife, Valorie, and our nephew, Donovan. There’s even a chance that our newest nephew will be there to greet us…

Those are the roughly-laid-out plans, and here’s some needless alliteration for you: family, food, and fun. It’ll be a welcome break from the daily soul-suck of work this past month. And of course I’m taking a load of pictures 🙂

One thought on “garden state of mind

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