You can tell by the pictures I loaded--all from the Outer Banks, North Carolina--where my heart is. (Two are Chesapeake Bay/Bridge/Tunnel, Virginia.) When I shellfished for 13 years off Long Beach Island, New Jersey, I had a camera only for the last six years, and used it little. I was focused on studies and writing and wanted distraction neither from my photography hobby or fishing. Shellfishing about four hours a day, sometimes two for months running, was enough. Otherwise, I kept active at all sorts of enjoyments with my girlfriend. It's worth putting this stuff online. Robert Plant's line comes to mind from "Oh, Rosie Girl," or "How Many More Times?" That there's no need to hide or run.
First vacationed on the Outer Banks 1969. More and less ever since.
My quandary began in 1982 when I really got serious about clamming as the way to earn a living while I studied. I wasn't sure if I should clam on LBI or on the Outer Banks. Communication back then was not like today. I really didn't know if clamming existed on the Banks until I visited there in 1996. But I had suspected.
Outer Banks pure, more solitary, aesthetically superior for natural form, have deep, deep memories of mine embedded.
But I imagined society on the Banks would be lacking.
Long Beach Island clammers not only associated with one another by respectful distance. The year round hard core who worked in, not on, the water even in January--all 20 somethings besides one or two early 30's--more and less shared a free spirit philosophy.
I was the only one intensely intellectual, although one of us saved enough of his earnings to earn a Psy. D. in psychology from Rutgers. I didn't speak like an "intellectual," nor was I only "one of the guys." The purpose of my studies involved eventually making money. Writing is all I can really do. I do a million things besides, but not one of the things I do isn't in the service of my purpose as writer.
Hurricane Sandy virtually left all the boardwalks behind us, just as if Bruce Springsteen foresaw this decades before. But like any society, New Jersey rebounds. Twentieth century Jewish Prophet, philosopher, and anthropologist, Martin Buber, wrote that resistance sustains until God crashes the very roof over the head. But fortunately, no tree fell on our house, though climate change deniers could get a rude awakening. Buber spoke hyperbole at not very far remove from reality. First thing out of my mouth when my brother Rick phoned the morning after 90 mph winds had raked his house a mile from the beach: "Jobs are created." Why not be upbeat? That's how things get done.
I like New Jersey more than North Carolina, even though I have a deep, deep sentimental attachment to that southern state where I played the radio on stations and found songs I loved before Starbuck's song, "Moonlight, Feels Right," came out, as if in answer. I always felt I could do without scattered doses of potion, and have done without this form of vernacular sunshine, but at least the song had an association to a girl way, way back in 9th grade. Opens with an electronic sound wave like the modification of a steeple bell.
I wouldn't live in this state if I didn't feel its industrial challenge is worthwhile, at least by the fundamental principle of the free mind, which applies to art and business alike. I know about Superfund projects and lesser environmental disasters, just as I am wholly optimistic about the open space revolution in this state.
Philadelphia was just 60 or so miles away when I lived on LBI. My girlfriend Maureen lived on the city's outskirts. We traveled back and forth constantly, sometimes listening to the rock DJ with "the Animal," on WMMR. From Philadelphia, we traveled north and west in Pennsylvania. We always got around to various places. I always noted in my accounts that I was "at Lawrence," rather than "at my parents'" when I visited my hometown township of that name. I had thought of leaving it all for a new start in California, then I considered Santa Fe, flew out there, and found the place a bore. LBI is a resort fantasy in a way, but I thought of it better than Santa Fe.
The wilderness of bays sustained me, and having the Boulevard to drive, usually just minutes or so a day connected me with any and all venues. With Maureen, the Island's attractions always became charming. But towards the end I called the whole place a backwater. Not the bays. The bays are a part of the planet inseparable from the whole. I found my life in them. Even more than I had found my life on Stony Brook of Princeton Township and the ponds of Princeton Day School.
But I had to go. And now I drive 150 mile weekdays through some of the busiest of the Northeast Corridor. No backwater. It's the most important place in the world.
12/1/12 Put a picture of Maureen and I up at the bottom of the post. Why not? Don't think she'll try to sue me. :-)
Check out the tan! December bronze. January, February, and March too--year round sun!