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59 at 38th: Reversible Jersey/Santa Cruz Closure = Open Door Policy

November 6, 2013


Jersey Boy makes it to a California lifestyle and celebrates blowing out cancer on the birthday cake

When I was a kid in Freehold, New Jersey, the first record I purchased was The Beach Boys Surfer Girl album. I had blonde hair and blue eyes and always felt I belonged in California. Growing up in Freehold was a great childhood, and our family was so happy there, when my Dad moved us to Fairfield County everything changed: a world of status and yuppies took the place of a neighborhood. I wrote about it in Blind Guys Break 80. I believe that childhood was what gave me the extra strength to survive testicular cancer and pursue my dreams. I was always proud of Freehold and still feel indebted to those memories. Hey, every day is an opening, okay. But I guess the greatest sense of protection and contentment that I can always crawl into, is a memory of lying in bed at age 13 on the first day of summer, the light breeze coming through the window, gentl;y lifting the white curtains, and hearing my parents downstairs and smelling breakfast. And I go that that once in awhile, but not in  a Catcher in The Rye way, it was nice to know that is my safe room. It feeds me a a belief of the love in my life.  Maybe that’s why I decided to wear my Sorrentos Subs Freehold, New Jersey shirt today.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. On my birthday, I wanted to spend the day at Pleasure Point and surfing. So after Laurie made me breakfast and gave me one of my presents, a $50 gift certificate for wetsuit booties at The Freeline Surf Shop, I hung at the house and read, The Unwinding for an hour, then I pout my board on the car, and  drove to Pleasure Point listening to the Surfer Girl album, feeling a sense of accomplishment, that I did build a life for myself in California and became a writer, and comedian, and surfed, and not one of those activities was a hobby, but a dedicated path I refused to relent. Cancer almost took me away from this. I was here to blow out cancer’s candle on my birthday cake. There’s so much in life that evaporates before it gets to hurt me, I can only see the sense of quiet and humble wonder. I’m in  another room without walls but still lying in that summer bed and hearing my parents love and knowing I got out of the way to continue to be shaped by it all. I’m still living that dream.

I went for a breakfast, a treat, and overt tipped the waitress–because your birthday is also about spreading the gift of giving. After I finished, I dropped off three copies each of Aliens SUrf Santa Cruz and to the Freeline surf shop. Then had an Americano across the street at the Verve coffee shop.

“Freehold,” said a guy working the counter.,

“Yeah, I grew up there. Been out here 25 years,”

“Bloomfield. Where about is Freehold?”

“Monmouth County, Marlboro, outside Asbury Park.”

“I know it.”

“And you?”

“It around Perth Amboy.”

“I jad relatives in Passiac, Lyndhurst, and grew up in CLifton, still have strong memories of it too.”

“Really? I know Clifton, I know where your from.”

“What’s an Americano?”

“It’s a watered-down espresso which really has the same effect as a coffee.”

“I’ll have that,” I said. “Something different. It’s my birthday and I’m doing a Jersey meets Pacific moment day.”


ANd so the curtains life. The summer winds blow in November. And I’m paddling out. AT this time last year, I wasn’t strong enough to surf, but now I have regained most of my strength and I’m catching waves, and actually surfing better than ever. I’m still struggling to get rid of nerve damage, and anytime there’s an ache I sometimes wonder if cancer is trying to shoplift my organs again, but I still look outward. The water is lapping over my board. And I’m here.

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