What is the point?

I have a mini-philosophy about life; about people and relationships. I have always thought that people are put into our life for a reason. I don’t claim to know what the reasons are, nor do I believe that each and every person that you meet or talk to has some cosmic significance, but generally I think that the people that have impacted our lives in some way have value & meaning.

Friends come & go, people move, change schools, jobs and grow apart. I always enjoyed writing letters to my best of friends, but had a hard time staying in touch with people who weren’t on my daily radar. I would have liked to keep in touch with everyone, but phone calls and letters take up a lot of time and energy! That is, until Facebook came along.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get a Facebook account. Several friends had invited me to join, but I was wary. In many ways, unless my brother Niel tells me about it, I am not an early adopter. It took me about a year before I finally gave in and accepted a friend request, signed up for an account, and started Facebooking. For me, it has made all the difference!

Whereas in the day to day activity of real life I would be hard pressed to make time to call up a friend and reconnect, on Facebook I can reach out and find all sorts of people that I would love to get back in touch with. It’s so easy, and the best part is that now I have a one-stop shop to catch up on everybody’s doings (as long as they keep their facebook updated, of course), and keep them all up-to-date on my life too.

Being the very outgoing, social person that I am, for me Facebook is a great tool. It’s so nice to be able to see photos of my friend’s families as they grow, see photos of them on vacation, and comment on posts and share a laugh about our everyday lives. It really takes care of all the catching up you have to do when we finally do get to see or talk to each other, like during my 20th high school reunion last year. Since most of my former classmates and I were already connected on Facebook, we didn’t have to spend 4 hours in a banquet hall getting to know each other again. All that was taken care of beforehand, so we got to party, dance and have fun, just like the old days when we were in high school.

Which brings me to the subject of this post: what is the point?

Social media – especially Facebook- for all of its charms and real-time instant gratification is a poor substitute for human interaction. I don’t friend anyone on Facebook that I would not geniunely be happy to see in person, because ultimately, for me that is the goal. Yeah, sure we might not have seen each other for twenty or twenty-five years. So what? I don’t pursue a cyber-friendship for the sake of having a cyber-friend that I used to hang out with. It’s the opposite, I pursue a cyber-friendship for the possibility of hanging out again together someday.

Yesterday my family and I went to Gainesville, FL, and while we were there I decided to surprise my friend Nandy. I have seen Nandy only once since 1993! Nandy is older than me, but I know her because we went to the same high school. I used to date her brother, and we would all go out as a big group. We are friends on Facebook, and its neat to stay connected. But yesterday it hit me. We could drive to Gainesville and not see Nandy, and nothing would change. Yet, something in me said, “why NOT?” We come up with so many excuses not to do things sometimes, but what is 20 minutes to stop by and say hi, and give a quick hug to someone you’ve known for over 20 years? I figured out that if I wasn’t going to go out of my way to see a friend, no matter how briefly, then I shouldn’t even be friends with them on Facebook. There’s no way I was going to unfriend Nandy, so before we left Gainesville all 7 of us went to see Nandy (at work, no less).

It was a surprise alright, but a nice one, and it was great to see her! Thanks to Facebook, we didn’t have to spend the 20 minutes or so that we were there catching up. I already knew that she had surgery on her foot, and that her husband has a food blog, and that she likes Roller Derby. She already knew that I have 5 kids and a bunch of goats. It wasn’t a long-lost-friends type of reunion, but it was FUN! So, if you get a chance to see an old friend, do it! Friendships are what make life interesting, and that’s the whole point!

Summers on the Jersey Shore

One of my favorite memories of living in New Jersey is spending time at the beach, and on the boardwalk, in Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, and other places up and down the Jersey Shore.

My family lived in a two story home in West End, just three blocks away from the beach in Long Branch, NJ.  At that time there was a great boardwalk, and at the end of the boardwalk, on the pier right at the end of Broadway, a mini amusement park with a roller coaster, bounce houses, haunted house and arcade games. Across the street from the pier there was an awesome (for the eighties) water slide, and more games and amusements, restaurants, and shops.

I remember that around 1982 some enterprising folks installed a miniature golf course right along the boardwalk, just north of the pier. The theme was “safari” and they had imported ten huge royal palms from Florida to complete the picture. Everytime we would drive past we’d check to see how the palms were doing – they looked pretty gnarly at times- I don’t think they every really thrived there.

My favorite things to do at the boardwalk were play skee ball, and the game where you had to shoot a watergun into the clown’s mouth. I thought it was so cool how you could spray water into his mouth and a balloon would start to blow up over his head! The object was to fill the balloon so much that it popped, and I think that I actually accomplished this one time.

August, 2010

Besides spending days on the beach, eating peanut-butter-and-sand sandwiches – or my dad’s favorite, mustard and liverwurst (ugh!)- we would sometimes go for an italian ice over by Seven President’s Park, or over to the Beach Plum for the best ice cream cones ever.

Sadly, the pier in Long Branch is gone, victim of a fire that burned the whole thing down in 1987 … I believe it was under suspicious circumstances I think, and was promptly replaced by a huge Hilton or Sheraton hotel. Broadway and the downtown area are mere shadows of their former selves, and Ocean Ave. is dominated by strip malls. But, there are some vestiges of my childhood that are still there … such as the Windmill and the Inkwell.

I’d love to hear of some of your childhood summers on the shore too… and keep it alive at least in our memories!

Found this on YouTube:

%d bloggers like this: