It’s here. Memorial Day weekend. The official start off to the summer here in New Jersey.
I’m not kidding. My Dad said that 34 South was already congested at 9 am this morning. I can’t even imagine what the parkway looks like right now. An hour ago there was a 13.5 mile delay.
As cold and brutal as the winters are here, the summers are as warm and beautiful. Nothing beats a summer at the Jersey Shore.
Memorial Day signals the beginning of warm days and cool nights, but it also signals some other things.
Namely, traffic. Especially on Friday afternoons. I would not want to be you if I get on the parkway by accident. Your 20 minute drive home just turned into short of an hour. That’s if your lucky. And with traffic, comes Benny’s. Benny’s are an acronym that stand for: Brooklyn, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York. There are variations but it essentially characterizes anyone who lives north of the Raritan Bridge. Sorry, but you’re a benny.
Benny’s are what keeps the Shore afloat during the summer. We love their business but they can get on our nerves sometimes. Especially when driving. For some reason New Jersey still has circles, or roundabouts as they are known elsewhere. And unless you learned how to drive here, you don’t know how to navigate them. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get home on the weekend and someone, usually with a New York license plate, is in the inner most lane trying to get all the way to the outer lane. It’s usually followed by a lot of beeping and obscene gestures. It’s something you come to expect.
Benny’s aside, Memorial Day is something everyone here looks forward to. It means Monday off, barbecues, and a couple early beach days if the weather cooperates.
To me, there is nothing better than a day spent at the beach. I’m lucky my entire family, except my sister on some days, are total beach bums. We usually arrive between 10-11 and don’t leave until 4. The best is when it’s hot enough outside that no matter how cold the water is, it always feels refreshing. And after a hot day on the beach, what’s better than going for ice cream? I’m lucky enough to live within spitting distance of some of the best homemade ice cream places (something I took for granted when I only had Dairy Queen at school). Hoffman’s is my fav.
Sadly, I will only have a few of those days this summer. I leave at the end of the month to work in Florida for the next two months. When I told my friends, they were surprised. Vee said, “Ash, no one loves summers here more than you do.” Now that may be a but of a stretch, I’m sure other people love it here as well, but she’s not wrong. Luckily, I might be able to swing being home the week of July 4th. If I’m not laid out on a towel that week, well, then it’s probably raining.