The Peace House and retirement goals in the place that Bruce made
A love story and picking the right lotto numbers
Asbury Park in New Jersey is about a 90-minute drive straight out of Pennsylvania on the turnpike into and onto the Jersey turnpike. We have a lot of turnpikes out here. Someday I will google that.
Usually, the trek is a day trip to either camp out on the beach and look for dolphins, or a quick overnight stay in a hotel a town or two over. Last year, not wanting to deal with driving to and fro, I looked at what Airbnb had to offer a little closer to everything.
I admit it was the large peace sign adorning the front house that caught my attention. A glass mosaic hangs from the top of the balcony roof and covers the windows on the second floor. It’s a beautiful piece of art that captures much of what I love about Asbury Park.
In this area, as I’m sure in others, Asbury is almost synonymous with Bruce Springsteen, who grew up not far from and used the streets as a backdrop for many of his early songs.
Of course, it has a much longer history, and the lasting art scene is just some evidence of that.
That isn’t to say the music scene isn’t big — from the early days of jazz through “The Sound of Asbury Park” to the punk scene, there is a lot of great music to be heard at any time.
The guest house sits behind the peace sign house and is a renovated barn with a garage downstairs and the most perfect little escape upstairs.
The owner, a retiree and artist, has layered in her own works with unique second-hand pieces and what would be brilliant finds while out thrifting. A cross between modern and bohemian style, it just feels good to be sitting in a room created out of a passion for each piece.
As I usually do at some point, I flipped through properties in Asbury for sale. While I often say that I want to retire in the area, the truth is that I would move in an instant if I could find the right place for (more importantly) the right price.
Forget the inflated real estate market, prime property on the ocean in a highly rated place in metro New York is to say a little out of my reach. Even the places that “need some work” are more than what is realistic for me. Especially when I can’t do the “some work” on my own.
I texted my mom to tell her that she was going to need to come up with a half-million for her share — I assume my next house will have space for my parents. She sent back a laughing emoticon and asked if I would take a check. I may have told her I could not accept a check from her. Obviously.
Imma have to buy one of them lotto tickets.
Maybe? Paw never gots any luck on them thar things
He doesn’t do it right. You have to pick the numbers they draw
She may or may not have noted my genius at this observation.
The day after beach day was a cooler but humid day so we opted to walk around downtown admiring the locals in bizarre traditions and check out the shops in the area.
Shopping in Asbury isn’t something we have done much of in the past save a boardwalk tee or sweatshirt, but there are dozens of unique shops between bakeries, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. There are also a good number of reality locations shining gorgeously small properties for twice what my double-the-size townhouse cost. Location, location, location.
One shop, in particular, I fell in love with as the walls were lined with beautifully carved and stained whales.
There were other pieces done by the same artist that would have happily made me turn a wall of my home into an ocean. We ended up buying not a whale but another piece entirely and happily heading back out into the wilds.
A good deal of time was also spent in the indie bookstore where I was delighted to get a copy of Colin Kapernick’s book for my littlest sister who is visiting in just a few more nights of sleep.
Part of me wishes I could read it to her from the boardwalk while we admired all the different people that passed by. That’s a brilliant thing about sitting there and watching the world walk by, the world really does walk by — and most under the spell of sea salt on the air creating a sense of contentment.
On the drive home, I thought a lot about my desire to live in such a place. It’s one of the few places (outside of Paris) that I’ve been in that I not only loved but that felt natural to me.
But, I also realized that I didn’t need a place in Asbury to work on my art, I just needed to make the space for myself to do it now. Find others who burn around me. Maybe spend more time at the art league I’ve been a member of but barely participate.
“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars ~ Jack Kerouac, from On the Road