Hi guys. My Internet access has been going in and out all day due to Hurricane Sandy. I can report that all Coppa family members are safe and I owe uncle Bri a huge thank you for all he did for JD and me. From filling the kitchen with non-perishable foods to his quick thinking about freezing water in Tupperwear containers as a means to save our food if the power went out. And it did. It was scary. The winds shook our condo. I felt safe with uncle Bri here and I know JD did too.
If you’ve been following my blog all along, you know I have a soft spot for the Jersey shore and that both uncle Carlo and my mom live in Bradley Beach, NJ—a family orientated beach town next to popular, Belmar.
Tonight, as JD played Legos on the carpet and I admittedly sipped wine, a tear slipped from my eye as I listened to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie via NBC Nightly News. He described the iconic places on the Jersey Shore that have been wiped out after Sandy, such the boardwalk in Belmar (where JD and I would walk Max the dog every summer weekend). Christie confirmed what we all now know: All that remains is water, sand and debris. The ocean met the bay in some places. He is committed to rebuilding with the help of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, but like he said, for people my age and his … it will never be the same again. We will rebuild. We’re Jersey Strong.
When I was a young girl, my parents rented summer homes for weeks at a time in the Ortley Beach area. I have fond memories of sand between my toes, the backdoor policy my parents issued to my friends, inviting them all down, the rides at Seaside. We would dine at a place called Gabriella’s and play video games at Barnacle Bill’s. Every night my parents would take us to the Seaside Boardwalk, now gone, to ride the rides, play games; eat Kohr’s ice cream.
See, growing up in Jersey, Snooki and Pauly D didn’t make the MTV version of the Jersey Shore exciting or alluring to me. My friends and I were fist pumping at Temptations and drinking fish bowls at Bamboo when those guys were in diapers. Good for them for making millions off my shore (no sarcasm)—if someone followed my friends and me around we’d be just as famous, no joking, here. The Jersey Shore to me is a million things in one pristine sea shell.
It’s home to a vault of secrets only my best friends know. It’s Three Brother’s Pizza at 2 am with George, Carlo and Co. It’s first love, lost love, new love. It’s Krista in the rain, mascara down her face (secrets). It’s walks on the beach with my dad—greatest conversations of my life. It’s flying kites with Carlo and Bri. It’s lazy days with my mom, feeding baby ducks, at a bay house we rented one year—I was just 17. It’s the summer of 2004 where life was just … unimaginable … insane, but a cute Argentine reminded me how to live and … love again. It was a place of solace when I was pregnant and … single. Sand. Sun. Rush of water.
And it is unfortunately where my first bikini at 13 led to the most devastating moment of my life: My Spinal Fusion.
I begged for a bikini. My mom and dad were both against it, but I won. And I wore that orange and pink number to the beach and while it wasn’t super skimpy, it did give my mom, dad and second cousins a view of my body they were not privy to see. It was a hot day in July of 1995 when my second cousin, Ro, said to my mom, “Chrissy’s hips are crooked.” My mom told me to stand up straight. I fled. Thirteen. Bikini. Body. Puh-lease. But they were right.
I was sick. So sick only a 9 hour operation could fix me and I have the battle wound, scar from neck to hips to prove it. That moment on the beach—to the moment in the hospital when a single tear fell from my eye to my lips and I tasted the salt is a moment in time I will never forget. Talk about backbone. Bad day? I go there. To the beach and to the operating room. Backbone sustains me. Always will. I guess, I could say, the Jersey shore saved my life. Doctor Roye said my spinal curve was so aggressive, so rare that it could collapse my lung and without sign.
But, listen, guys, I didn’t set out to tell a sob story about my scar. I really wanted to tell you all what the Jersey Shore has meant to me since becoming a mommy. Because my family has residence there, JD has gotten to grow up there. What a joy to watch him go from a curious baby with sand between his fingers, to one who feared the ocean; now loves it. A child who can dig for hours for “treasures,” sand crabs and more—and fish with his godfather. We’ve made so many new friends at the beach. Here’s a look at the past five years of JD at the Jersey Shore.
Godspeed to you, pretty sea. The tide, you pull in and out and are a constant in my life. Something I always counted on. My sincere prayers to all harmed and changed by the storm. I have many friends in trouble. I ache for them.
I wrote this beach-themed blog for glamour.com in 2009. Reading it now, made me cry. I hope you like it, too.
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