Trip Log – Day 259 – Toms River NJ

To Toms RiverJuly 21, 2016 – Sun, 85 degrees

Miles Today: 19

Miles to Date: 13,344

States to Date: 34

Thomas Wolfe wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again. He was wrong. You can return. Just be prepared for home to be so much smaller than memory insists. It took me half and hour, max, to roll through the precinct of my youth, the house, neighborhood, school, and church that stretched so wide to a young boy on his first bicycle. My family moved to Toms River when I was a year old. We lived on a street of cookie cutter houses within cycling distance of everything a child might want. By the time we moved to Oklahoma, when I was sixteen in 1971, the town had tripled in size. Today, houses on quarter acre lots crawl out in every direction. The streets I inhabited are now quaintly referred to as ‘The Village’. It is remarkably the same.

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The subsequent owners of our house have followed in my father’s ‘tinkering’ tradition. It is the most distinct on our indistinct block.

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Bishop Memorial Library, the first building I ever sketched, is still the most gracious structure downtown. I used to crouch in the stacks and savor Dr. Seuss, who was banned from my Catholic home.

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I puffed my one and only cigarette in the ally behind the movie theater, which has been turned into a mini-mall.

IMG_7060I have only one friend still living in Toms River, though Gus is much more than a friend. I spent the afternoon and evening with Gus and his wife, Robin, his children and grandchildren. His daughter Maggie is my only godchild. Seeing her after too many years gone was a reunion of the spirit.

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Trip Log – Day 259 – Toms River NJ

  1. Ken Bringenberg says:

    Just curious, Shorty…why did you return to Toms River? I’m truly interested in what drives us back to our hometowns. Was it on your route? Did you go off your route hoping to probe old memories? Curiosity?
    Each time I’ve returned to one of my early childhood homes, I suppose I’m hoping to recapture some memories. Sure enough, memories captured, but I’m still left feeling unfulfilled.

    Like

    • paulefallon says:

      I made it part of my route on purpose, for all the reasons you cite. A bit of curiosity, a bit of anxiety, a bit of wonder about the place that shaped me. I was not disappointed that the place felt small and a bit tired. It hasn’t worn any worse than I have!

      Like

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