Me, I Just Got Tired of Hanging in Them Dirty Arcades Banging Them Pleasure Machines.

Madame Marie's.

Madame Marie's, Asbury Park NJ.

"Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for telling fortunes better than they do."


Viewer, Ocean Grove.

"This boardwalk life for me is through, you know you ought to quit this scene too."

Sometimes, most of the time, particularly in the dead of winter or right before spring's wild explosion of life and green, I am seeking out what summer feels like. Stifling heat brings a sense of wide open youth, playful desire, endless twilight and wonderment to the world. I want a perpetual summer. I perpetually want sand in my hair and around my toes, I perpetually want sun-licked skin and sticky sweet ice cream and a light heart to make life brighter, easier to bear.

Sea View Avenue. Jesus on the Beach.

Sea View Avenue, Beachside Jesus.

"Sandy the aurora's rising behind us, the pier lights our carnival life forever."

So, during a phone conversation I impulsively suggested to A. that we go to Ocean Grove, New Jersey for a long weekend by ourselves. Admittedly, I wanted to be close to Asbury Park, enchanted as I am by the mythology that is Springsteen. I wanted to explore the place more, intrigued as I was by what I saw the last time I was there. I loved Ocean Grove's obvious preoccupation for it's past but it's attention for it's present and longing for it's future. Ocean Grove, tucked away from the interstate, sleepy-eyed and quiet seemed like the best place for us to spend our short but much-need time away.

The Boss.

The Boss, Pleasure Island Pinball Game.

My hunt for the elusive light, playful essence of summertime completed it's self on the Jersey shore, in a second floor room of a historical B&B, along the stretch of Asbury Park's boardwalk. I fell hard for both A. and Ocean Grove. That sandy strip of beach and the town's narrow streets lined with quaint Victorian houses and the soft skin of her palm in mine gave me that feeling of summer that I hadn't felt since I was young. Enormous, weightless, in love.

Asbury Waterpark.

Asbury's Waterpark.

"Love me tonight and I promise that I'll love you forever."


Roberts' 100th Reunion.

Gathering for the Big Group Photo.

Gathering for the Big Group Photo, Roberts' Reunion. Drums PA.

The first Sunday of every August, since 1909, the relatives and (now, since there isn't anyone actually named Roberts there) decedents of the Roberts family gather in Drums, PA to "reunite" with one another. August is not August unless the first Sunday is spent eating food, chatting with people who's names I can only sometimes recall, drinking birch beer from the tap jutting from the side of the green refrigerator, and gazing out across the pond/lake.

Summer Cabin & the Pond.

At the Pond

It is like any place I go that is populated by my former selves, by my family's history. There are photo albums containing the group photographs from the time I was born until present day and all 25 of us, all different incarnations of me linger there in the cat-o-nine tails and the swampy ground, around the stream that feeds the lake, with mud-caked feet and a full belly. See, every year each cluster of families is photographed together and those photographs stretch all the way back to the mid 30's.

Food Stuffs.


Like it's very existence, the reunion is punctuated by ritual. The potluck lunch is at noon sharp, preceded by a brief thanks given to the Lord for the bounty and nourishment that he's provided. There is the 50-50 drawing, the meeting to discuss affairs regarding the fiances and future of the reunion, the Chinese auction where my uncle always wins my aunt's quilt. There are the photo of the families and then there is corn, which has been steaming quietly over fire and under wet burlap sacks the majority of the afternoon.

Gaby & Rafle Tickets. Steaming Corn.

Gaby Takes Charge of the 50/50 Tickets, Steaming Corn.

This year had little to no variation on these themes. Inhaling the sweet, damp air, eating my aunt's macaroni and cheese, flipping through the albums filled with photographs, and wondering around the lake was like most years before. The sensory input at the reunion, forever unchanging, fulfills and marks the beginning of August, to mark the beginning of the end of summer.



Behind but Still Here.

Steaming Corn.

Steaming Corn, Roberts' 100th Family Reunion. Drums PA