When I was one year old, my parents and I moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Rumson, New Jersey. My dad had been offered a great work opportunity, and my mom said yes to the move on one condition: it would only be temporary. So five years and one little brother later, our family of four moved back to Minnesota. I cried and swore that someday I would return to the paradise that is New Jersey and call it home once again.
Obviously, that never happened. I actually didn't set foot in New Jersey again until we went back to visit during my freshman year of college. We spent a few days in New York City, and then took the hour or so drive out to Rumson to see the old house and neighborhood. It was a surreal experience, because I had (and still have) such vivid memories of my childhood there, and to be back was like walking through a weird, lucid dream. The house was much smaller than I remembered it being (probably because I had gotten bigger), but otherwise it was completely unchanged. We drove to the nearby town of Sea Bright, where our old beach club was located, and I instantly pointed it out it from afar. I would recognize those circular windows anywhere.
The whole trip was full of conversations and shared memories between my parents, my brother, and me. One New Jersey memory that continues to stand the test of time (even my brother, who was only about two years old when we moved back to Minnesota, claims to remember this) is the December 1992 nor'easter, during which we made Christmas cookies by candlelight.
|The sweater. Oh dear lordy, the sweater.|
"Christmas cookies by candlelight" is one of the dominant phrases of my childhood, and it is one of the only details I can recall about that nor'easter. I remember that our electricity was out, our neighbors Patty and Ed came over to check on us, and there was snow, which was exciting because it was so rare. What I don't remember is all of the damage that happened right in our area, within only a couple of miles of our house.
Seeing and hearing about the damage from Sandy a few weeks ago spurred me to ask my mom if she remembered anything from that storm. We talked about it on the phone for awhile, and then I asked her to send me any photos she could find. Since my parents don't own a scanner, she got these onto her computer by taking pictures with the laptop's camera and cropping them down to email to me. Ah, the wonders of technology.
Interesting side note: my mom had originally thought that the above photos were taken during the Perfect Storm (the one that inspired the book and movie) of 1991, otherwise known as the Halloween Nor'easter of 1991, but it turns out that my brother and I did our trick-or-treating in Minnesota that year while our parents were on a trip, so we weren't actually in New Jersey when it happened. However, as a result, it turns out we DID get to experience the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, and which I previously believed we had missed out on.
|My brother and me on Halloween in 1991, ready to trudge through the snow with our cousins Aaron, Grant, and Blake.|
Special appearance by my mom's hand. Look at those healthy nails!
I love making little connections like that.
Anyway, the point of this is not to say that I have any idea what anyone on the East Coast is going through right now, but a little piece of me will always be back in Rumson in that house during the nor'easter, listening to the wind howl outside and making Christmas cookies by candlelight. My mom emailed me an article about the flooding that happened in Sea Bright (the town where our old beach club was located) during Sandy, and it was crazy to think about how close that town was to where I used to live, and how different my life would have been if we had stayed there, not just because of the storm, but because I would have grown up without cornfields, a plethora of blondes surrounding me at all times, and elongated O sounds.
|(For reference: a screen shot of where Rumson and Sea Bright are in relation to each other and the ocean)|
I am grateful that the nor'easters that happened while I lived in New Jersey didn't affect us enough for me to have any bad memories, and the stories of courage and kindness that I've been hearing these past few weeks during and after Sandy have been a great reminder of just how much our country can come together when it really needs to, even in the midst of the most ridiculous election season ever. We're all connected somehow, whether it be through shared history, shared location, or a shared love for our country and its people.
Also, I'm grateful that living in coastal New Jersey instilled in me a love of the ocean, which eventually led me to the West Coast, where it rains once every million years. I know, I know, earthquakes and mudslides, yadda yadda bleep blop bloop. I'll still take sunshine over hurricanes and all other extreme weather any day of the week.
I leave you with a clip from The Colbert Report about the nor'easter that hit the east coast right after Sandy ended:
"Yes, a nor'easter, a storm so powerful it can wipe out a region's supply of t's and h's!"
Politics aside, you have to admit that that's pretty funny. Love it.