What does it mean to be from Asbury Park? That's not a question that can be answered so easily. My city by the sea will always be different from someone else's. My sunrises may bring me happiness and peace and to another could be disappointment of another day in beautifully lit darkness and despair. Sometimes it can feel like living in a couple different cities all at once. The quadrants, often defined by their activity in numerical blocks, all house completely different neighborhoods within each other. Retirees, artists, writers, millennials, struggling families, the purposely perpetually single, the couple just starting out... Straight, gay, vegan, hipster, straight-edge, outcast, socially awkward, average, recovering, rediscovering, working hard and hardly working live here, together, in this treasure chest of grit, glory and free form expression.
There are things that a person who doesn't live in Asbury Park will miss. The small details often get lost when just visiting for the weekend or for the night. The details of the well worn but still oiled machine, the intricacies that no matter how many times you visit, go undetected. There's a magic and stillness to it's awakening each morning, a perfectly painted sky, and richly colored light that seeps into the city like a warm kiss from a loved one, welcoming in a new day. That same magic and stillness will sweep the city in the evening, it's golden cotton candy tones providing a punctually placed backdrop to another evening's play. But it's those sparkling span of hours in which the routines of those that keep Asbury Park afloat day in and day out, not just in season and humming to it's very own tune, you will find the tried and true heartbeat of the city. From those who will dress the boardwalk in it's finest fixtures for impending visitors, to those taking a midday break from their artistry to walk a four legged friend, is when this pentameter can be heard loudest.
The face of Asbury Park is ever changing. The redevelopment that has hit the business district and boardwalk is taking it's time to seep into other sections but the spirit that has kept it alive during it's darkest time refuses to give in. We are the city of the underdog, littered with social heroes and misfits, labels and classifications. We are the ones who have seen her through the best and worst times. I encourage those who live here to not forget this spirit, revisit the allure that has kept you here within the city walls and to use that energy to push Asbury Park forward.
With all of that being said... It's not a secret that Bruce Springsteen's name has become synonymous with Asbury Park. Everyone has a story, a memory and a connection to this home town hero. But well before Bruce and well after him, will be more treasured entertainers, singers, artists, entrepreneurs, writers, athletes, pioneers and producers that will continue to inspire the world from a dizzied and dazzled city nestled by the sea. Asbury Park will always house hidden gems, like sea glass tossed among stones and bits of broken sea shells, special to those who know how to find it. Who will you be? What will your story be? How will your light shine? What will you tell the world when it asks what it means to be from the multifaceted, history rich and resilient city simply known as Asbury Park?
The Asbury Park Mermaid