For all you Jersey brides out there, I hope this gets you even more excited to get married in the most underrated, misunderstood, and beautiful place in the country.
Dear Jersey Shore,
I was born with your ocean pumping in my veins. Your sand has found its way into every facet and crevice of my life. Your sun has made my happiest days even happier and my saddest days a bit more tolerable. You've been my playground as a child; you've been my make-out spot as a teen; you've been my escape; you've been my treat to myself; you've been the place I go to figure it out; you've been my fake-sick-day-because-I-hate-my-job; you've been my reminder that I can always come home; you've been my ever constant favorite place.
You've been the most important part of my love story.
I spent the first 24 years of my life searching the world for love. Everywhere I went, every state I visited, every country I trekked through, I looked for love. I looked for my person. I met boys with Southern charm and boys with British accents and boys who went huntin' and too many boys who made fun of where I came from.
Then, just when I was ready to start collecting cats, I met a boy from the Jersey Shore. This boy grew up 9 miles from me my entire life. Our paths had crossed a thousand times - our high schools played sports against each other, we frequented the same bars in Belmar, and some of our mutual friends had dated each other. What took us so long to meet I will never know but when we did, I knew I had finally found my person. And he was a local.
He took me to a restaurant on the Asbury Park boardwalk for our first date in the gut of winter. The beach was covered in snow but it was still the beach. The air still smelled gloriously salty and the waves still roared and crashed. I ached for summer the same way I ached to fall in love.
By the time summer came, I was living with that boy in a cozy little home less than two miles from your beaches. I saw him surf your waves for the first time, and I was already in pretty deep, but I think I fell in love with him all over again. When we took our dog to the beach for the first time, his joy was so pure and so contagious that my cheeks hurt from smiling so much that day. The three of us spent that entire first summer taking long, long walks along your shoreline. A few years later, we got engaged during one of those walks. And it's remained our most treasured weekend tradition, no matter the season.
We made sure to say hello on our wedding day. My favorite photos are the ones of me and that boy, who is now my husband, walking hand-in-hand along the Spring Lake boardwalk. The boardwalk was packed as it was a blue-skied, early summer day. There was not a single person who didn't stop to wish us well. Those are your people, our people, the best people.
You've persevered through some pretty harsh times, Jersey Shore. You've dealt with the talent-less ass clowns on MTV, and the richer but equally offensive "Housewives." You've welcomed the less-than-polite "visitors", year after year, summer after summer. You've had some recent political scandal that has made Jersey even more synonymous with traffic jams. We thought Hurricane Irene was bad until Hurricane Sandy rolled through. Hurricane Sandy - the one who pretended she was an angry Greek Goddess and created waves the size of buildings and flooded your homes and businesses; wiped entire towns off your map; devastated your economy. That was the truest test of your strength and resilience and you handled the worst disaster in your history with grace, courage and heart. So much heart.
You treat everyone as if they are a beloved guest but you can admit it - the locals are your favorites. Well, I want you to know, as a local, I love you. I love everything about you - the good, the bad, the ugly. Always have. Always will.
My 3 loves: husband, dog, Jersey Shore.