Day 2: Sandy Hook, New Jersey, 364 miles, 5 states
Lori H. Ersolmaz, “Fatigue” (Video Poem)
We met Stephen on Tuesday and saw his new apartment in Central Park West.
Afterwards, we picked up a half dozen baguettinis at Perfect Picnic, a sandwich place across from the Park. While there, I learned that the owner wasn’t around because she was in Provincetown setting up a branch there.
It’s not authentic old Cape Cod cuisine but is a welcome addition, especially for a good, easy lunch. We ate sitting on a bench along the Hudson River around 100th St.
We’re staying on the barrier spit, Sandy Hook, which is a miniature Cape Cod (3 versus 339 square miles). It’s part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, similar to the Cape’s National Seashore.
There are beach plums aplenty, cedars more than pitch pines, shipwrecks, ospreys, seals, and inviting sandy beaches. There’s even an old military base (Fort Hancock) and an old lighthouse like those on the Cape.
I’ve received the good news that my new book, Thinking with Maps, is now out. I asked to have a copy mailed to Austin so I can pick it up there.
Thank you for posting my video. It was an early poetic film of mine. Looks like you had a nice time at Sandy Hook and on your trip. Safe travels and enjoy! Lori
I know Sandy Hook. The summer between junior and senior years at Rice, I spent at my parent’s new home in Middletown NJ, a few miles from Sandy Hook. My father had just been transferred to run the New York (meaning Newark) office of the insurance company where he was a lifer. I might have stayed in Houston and looked for a job, but I was curious about NJ. I searched for a job at the shore and found one as a busboy at a busy seafood restaurant in Seabright. It took 1 week to realize that I didn’t have the endurance for that job and to develop a lifetime respect for people who do.
I saw a sign that the park on Sandy Hook was looking for people willing to patrol the park. I applied and based on having the only requirement for the job – a driver’s license- I was hired. I spent the summer driving around the park mostly at night, sitting on the beach for “breaks” and directing beach traffic in the morning – another job for which requirements were modest – two arms for waving at cars that ignored me. During the day I slept some and spent time at the beach and hanging out with other shifts. The main crew were young people who had been passed on these cushy summer jobs as part of their family’s inheritance. The lived in Atlantic Highlands, the town across a small bay or inlet. It was – maybe still is – a working class town, mostly Italian. One of the jobs for the evening shift patrol was picking up the dinner orders at one of the restaurants there. The kids were shocked that someone from TEXAS!! who was NOT Italian!! landed such a plum position.
The very frequent irate drivers – “what the f*** are you kids doing out here screwing up traffic!?!?” (They had a point), the occasional wreck, the the occasional drunks, the occasional car far into parking lot late at night that had an odd rhythmic motion for a few moments – otherwise not much excitement. I had a couple of dates with one of the girls. On one we went to NYC and saw “Cabaret”. I enjoyed her company – working class, very Catholic, fairly sure that there was no life south of Asbury Park or north on NYC – but as I recall pleasant and bright although with little interest in life’s possibilities – sort of Saturday Night Fever without the sex.
All in all, I enjoyed the place.
While there my mother had a breakdown of sorts. It took her about 9 months to admit that she hated NJ, hated the neighbors, hated the weather, hated that she had to be there, hated her new dog and announced that she leaving my father, me and the dog and returning to Dallas with my sister. She was quite the prime donna throughout her life, but this might have been her crowning achievement. My day job now included helping my father move to an apartment somewhere up the Garden State. (He arranged a move to the home office in San Francisco about a year later and my mother joined him there.) I lived there for the last couple of weeks in NJ, stayed in Sandy Hook as much as possible before and after work, and returned to Houston for senior year which was also residentially challenging.
Sandy Hook … … go figure.