A Summer Recharging In New Jersey

6 Aug
Double rainbow over the George Washington Bridge, view from my parent's apartment.

Double rainbow over the George Washington Bridge, view from my parent’s apartment.

Another visit to New Jersey begins. A cat is rubbing her head up against my computer and me. She really wants to sit on my lap. My sister’s cat, Tilda, wants some attention. And that is part of what makes my visits to New Jersey now somewhat strange. I am at my sister’s home, not at my parent’s home.

When my parents passed away within nine months of each other, I thought I might not travel to New Jersey each summer as I had for the previous 30 years I was married and lived in Kansas. But that turned out not to happen.   In fact, I continue to visit my family in New Jersey for a week each summer, staying with my sister. Visiting with my brother. Seeing my cousins. Going into the City for a show or to go to a museum. Then spending a wonderful weekend in the Catskills at our family home.

It is almost the same. I have a room to stay in. I have a great place to stay. But it is not the same. My parents are not here. My home away from home is a different place. It is still New Jersey, but I no longer have the magnificent view of Manhattan right out the window. I am not staying in an apartment, but instead a house. And I have cats here that want love and attention, just as my cats do.

I love my time here. For some reason I need a week on the East Coast each year. It is like an energy pack! I return to Kansas with my Jersey accent much stronger and a sense of well being. There is nothing like Jersey for the Jersey girl in me.

When I stroll the malls or take the ferry to New York City, I am in my element. I have visions of my childhood underneath the current events.   In Kansas I do not have that double vision. When I am in Kansas, I see the changes in the last 35 years, but they are adult years. When I am in New Jersey, I see the sights of my childhood changed and reinvented in my adult eyes.

Last summer my brother drove me to the two homes I lived in when we lived in North Bergen. It was remarkable to see how much they had stayed the same, and what had changed.   I plan to ask my sister to drive past my grandparent’s bakery in West New York this time. I wonder what it is now. After they sold the building, it became a restaurant. But I have not driven past it in a long time.

Of course part of the excitement of coming back East, is to travel to our home in Kauneonga Lake, NY. We visit with our cousins. Sit by the lake, go out on the boat, and just enjoy the time together. Pizza on the beach is a tradition! When we sit there, I also see my parents and aunt and uncle. They loved to sit under the tree and watch the grandchildren grow into adults, seeing the changes that came each summer.

Another generation comes to the Lake. My two of my cousin’s are grandparents now. The fourth generation to come to Kauneonga Lake and enjoy the beauty and peace, as well as the fun! We were so blessed to have this oasis from the City.

A trip to New Jersey and New York in the summer is a welcome relief to me. It brings me back to my self. I will eat at a diner; I will see a show on Broadway; I will take the ferry to the City; I will travel up 17 to the Catskills and get off at exit 104 in Monticello. My journey on 17 B and then 55 will lead me to Kauneonga Lake.

I might live in Kansas for over 30 years. But when I close my eyes I am sitting in New Jersey. The house might be different. There might be a cat on my lap.   My parents might not be physically here. But my soul resonates with the love and joy of my childhood and I become rejuvenated.

I love my summer week back East.

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