To a place like Ocean City, the world spins on a separate axis; a thriving year that lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In that time, this tiny barrier island off the coast of southern New Jersey is packed ocean to bay with the buzz of a thriving tourism industry.
Living up to six deep in one bedroom summer rentals, it feels like the tri-state area opened up and spilled the contents of its residency onto our beaches, into our restaurants and in line at our convenient stores. All at once they come, and it never fails that all at once they leave. Residents of this town know better than to even try using the bridges on or off the island on those two pivotal days of the Ocean City year.
Some of the local businesses don’t bother staying open but for that small time frame. They make so much money from these tourists they can afford to close for the fall and winter and spend the season in more tropical locales… Ironically becoming “Shoobies” themselves somewhere else.
I guess that’s what you call the circle of life.
This morning I watched them go. New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware license plates all in a row; in line for their turn on the bridge out of town. This morning you still couldn’t get a seat at the coffee shop. You had to wait in line everywhere and grit your teeth at the beach sand and coco butter smell of the people you’ve been forced to tolerate all summer. You couldn’t have paid a thousand dollars for a parking spot, but you could laugh as a man in a Mercedes complained out loud about a quarter for the parking meter.
Then, like the ebb of the ocean, they were all gone. I emerged from a stint on my couch to find the parking lot below my balcony not just empty, but totally abandoned. The town sits in absolute silence. Just like that. The invasion of Planet Ocean City has ended and the shore has been left to the care of it’s residents once again.
That is until the next rotation and the OC year begins again.