I want to ask you to forget something for a second:

forget, for a few seconds, that the MTV show, Jersey Shore, ever existed. Forget Snookie, J-Wow, the Situation and any other stereotype that this show has put in your head. For just a few minutes, I want you to wipe the slate clean so that I might paint a different picture.

One of the things I miss the most about being in New Jersey is the shore. I didn’t live on the shore, but I grew up there. That’s where I spent time with my dad: fishing and crabbing and getting stuck in sand bars. I got seasick all the time and usually would prefer playing Atari, but that didn’t make the time any less special. I grew up, learning from my dad how to appreciate life, take care of what was given to me and how to sacrifice what I wanted for family time. He showed me how to love,respect and fear something at the same time.  I grew up on the shore.

I saw my first real sunrise on the shore. I have to confess that I belong to a group of people in the world who believe that a sunrise doesn’t count unless you stayed up all night to watch it. I was fourteen years old and after a night of hyperactivity, the anxious buzz that dominated my insecure life was stilled. I sat on the beach of Ocean Grove with my best friends and was overwhelmed by eternity unfolding before us.  I grew up on the shore.

The shore is a guaranteed way to make anything better. Prom weekend always involved a trip to the shore because that was guaranteed to make the weekend epic. Guaranteed, 100% you can bet the farm. Want to make a date special? Add a trip to the shore to walk along a boardwalk or a beach. Kissing along the shore always tasted better. Every woman that I’ve loved…I’ve kissed on the shore. I grew up on the Jersey shore.

New Jersey can be a tough place to live. The cost of living is high and salaries are low. There are practically no stay-at-home mom’s because no one can live off a single income. Houses are on top of each other, traffic sucks and everyone knows that the state government is corrupt. Schools are hit or miss, the state university system is far below national standards and EVERYONE struggles, but EVERYONE can get to the shore. Look to your left or right and it’s beaches all the way.  Look ahead and it’s rolling waves forever. There are no oil rigs in the distance, but if you’re lucky you might see dolphins or boats or airplanes dragging long banners across the sky.  No matter what happened, I could escape to the shore. I grew up on the shore.

Sometimes people wonder why the Shore matters to those of us native to New Jersey. As usual, “the Boss” speaks for all of us native New Jerseyans:

‘Cause down the shore, everything’s all right
You and your baby on a Saturday night
You know all my dreams come true
When I’m walking down the streets with you

The shore was the place where everything was all right. Everyone should have a place like that.