One Day


Because so many plans got screwed up this past Spring, I’m on vacation this month. To be honest, it feels a bit weird. There’s not much to do, we’ve got to be careful with anything we do end up attempting, and most normal vacation leisure activities are non-starters. It’s good to relax, but in some ways it’s even more stressful because, without the distraction of work, the oddness of this pandemic world hits home. I’m adjusting, but it’ll take a bit, and some more deliberate steps.

But there has been one day.

Our neighbors had access to a beach house and invited us to come down for the day. They’re in our circle of trust, so we took them up on their offer and packed up the car for a nice afternoon on Long Beach Island. The house was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and the stroll to the beach was less than a block. It was a win all around.

Yes, masks were worn wherever social distancing couldn’t be maintained.

It was nice to sit on the beach for a bit, and Bump loved the waves. For about five minutes, then he started repeating, “I done now, we go home? See Uncle Mike?” So after I was able to play in the water a bit I packed Bump up and headed back to the house 1, whereupon Bump had his first experience with de-sanding. I would have had also given him his first taste of a Jersey Shore outdoor shower 2, but he’d skipped his nap and was not happy. He got a quick bath and got to play with Uncle Mike while I got cleaned up. It wasn’t too long before everyone else headed back to the house and began going through the de-sanding process. Just a normal day down the Jersey Shore.

And then “Uncle Mike” and I decided to head out and get a couple of things before we picked up dinner. That’s when things got weird.

Early in our walk we avoided other pedestrians with the same sort of strange right of way ritual we employ at home. Once we got on the main drag, however, the crowds grew and we both masked up. Most folks we passed also had masks, some were even wearing them 3. We also passed a number of groups of younger folks, who weren’t wearing masks and were blocking the entire sidewalk, which was annoying. Still, by the time we reached the shopping area known as Bay Village 4 I felt comfortable being out. Especially since just about everyone in Bay Village was wearing a mask 5. But it was weird.

Bay Village should have been mobbed. In normal times I do not like going there because it is so crowded. On Thursday, it was a ghost town. A few shoppers milled in an out of the stores, and the restaurants had some diners in their outdoor seating, but the busyness of the season was just… absent. My neighbor got some sunglasses, and I picked up a pound of coffee–and we had to compete with no one for attention. Don’t get me wrong. Shopping this way was pleasant experience, which is something I do not associate with the shore in peak months. It was weird because it highlighted just how different things are.

So much of our day down the shore was normal. The house smelled like a beach house, the sea breeze was blowing, the surf was amazing 6, I got to use the outdoor shower and wash the sand off my feet using the spigot by the door. People strolled up and down the streets and the Jersey Shore’s unique architecture was on full display, and even the masks people had didn’t make things feel out of place. But the emptiness tilted the experience a few degrees out of whack, so it felt off.

One day of almost normal vacation fun, which also highlighted how different things have become. Welcome to 2020.

  1. I’m good for maybe two hours on the Beach. After that I’m done. I love going down the shore, though. It’s one of my favorite places to be. 
  2. It’s like a little shed attached to the house. I love outdoor showers. 
  3. Granted, we were outside and both proximity and time of contact with others were limited, so the risk was minimal. 
  4. LBI has no Boardwalk. Bay village is as close as it gets. The lack of a boardwalk is odd to me, but to each their own I suppose. 
  5. With the exception of the shore equivalent of mall rats, who were sitting in the middle of the eating area. 
  6. LBI has horrible undertow, though.