Friday, May 25, 2012

Sick for home

I've been off the blog for the last couple of days for a few reasons. One is that work has been insane--summer reading is starting, and a major upgrade just went through for our internet activity manager and it has been a test of wills, as with most technology upgrades. I'm also gearing up for two summer classes, one in June and one in July.

But I have to admit, the main reason I haven't been blogging--and the main reason I've been not reading posts and staying away from Blogger in general, because everywhere I turn, there it is--is because I'm homesick. I've been homesick for seven years, almost, ever since we moved to South Carolina. But this feels different, worse somehow. There's a pain in my stomach, a nervous pull that either says "I need some Wawa" or "I can never go back and I regret that".

It's not that I can't go back (I'm not in witness protection or something) but I seem to have been incapable of finding a way to make it back. My parents have each managed multiple returns for various reasons, but between work and a severe lack of money (between you and me, I love my job, but I skirt the edge of the poverty line in terms of my paycheck), I've only been able to stick my toes in the sweet Cape May sand once, in 2007. I celebrated taking my last Prozac during that trip, I was with my stepfamily for the first time in what felt like decades, I was tanner than I've ever been in my life. I dove under a wave for the first--and so far, the only--time. We stayed two blocks from my grandparents' house, on the same street with the same name as the street in Atlantic City where I grew up. I saw friends, family, acquaintances. I walked through a casino for the first time since quitting my job at one in 2005 to move, and found myself overwhelmed and fully resensitized to the aural and visual attack of the casino floor. Cape May diamonds rolled between my fingertips and I stared at the concrete ship, which had sunk on my birthday 81 years earlier. I ate a White House sub. I drank Barq's root beer. I tasted sea salt & humidity and found sand on my body for weeks afterward.

There has always been an undercurrent of homesickness in my heart, a low buzz that reminds me that I'll never be southern the way southerners want me to. All it takes is utterance of the words water or hot dog to know that. It's been worse lately, though, and the reasons are so many. One of my coworkers is moving to New Jersey to attend Rutgers in the fall. A college friend texted me today to say she was on the Turnpike on her way to New York City. Everyone and their mom seems to be planning a trip to the Jersey shore for this summer. My stepfamily is making a return this summer. My dad literally just returned from Seaville a week ago. And every time I run across one of these coincidental and incidental references to the place I hold so dear, I feel sick to my stomach.

I don't know if what I miss more is the place itself or the experiences I have had there, but I know it's some mix of both. I feel crushed under the weight of knowing that so many others have access to the place that holds my heart, and I hate not knowing when--or if--I'll ever be able to play another round of skee ball at the arcade while my hair, heavy with Atlantic Ocean water, drips down my back. And it may never be the same--I'll never see my dad, uncle and grandfather square off in the arcade, or build another sandcastle. At least not the way I did before. Some people may say it isn't worth it; it is New Jersey, after all, and if there are two things America remembers about New Jersey, it's that it is the armpit of America and it produced Snooki. But I just want to be able to touch, and taste, and wrap myself in Cape May. I want to kill this pain, and I don't know how to make it happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment